Five Questions To Ask Yourself Before Expanding

Once you’ve got your first restaurant off the ground and it’s been a few years you might be looking for some new opportunities or new challenges. Armed with the knowledge and experience gained from your first, now successful, restaurant you might think it would be a fairly straightforward process to open up a second venue and expand your business. You might assume you’ll know what you’re doing and how to do it.

But you might wrong. A shocking amount of business owners and managers don’t consider everything when expanding to a new area. There are no guarantees that what made your first endeavour such a success will work again second time round in a different location.
So here are five questions you should ask yourself before you go ahead and expand.

1. What type of food should you serve? 

Although You may think you have this one answered by virtue of your existing menu performing so well, you should think again. Your new venue might make re-designing your menu a necessity due to the size and location of the kitchen area and the new customer base.

What and how you serve differ hugely. Families and sit-down meal types are very different customers to someone look to grab a quick bite on their lunch break.

These customers will like like the restaurants and their cafes to mesh well with their community. So re-assessing your menu would be a wise move, even if it’s something as simple as putting a local spin on existing items.

Doing some guerrilla market research in the area can help here, go to existing places as a customer and find out what’s popular. In the early days of your new venue analytics can also be a tremendous help in deciding how to move forwards.

Many POS providers can collect analytics & insights on sales trends, It may be the case that a breakfast menu was popular in the original venue but not suited to your new expansion at all. Understanding what performs well at each location is key to continuing success when expanding to new areas.

2. How will you manage the extra staff?

More than 66% of restaurant owners say staffing is one of their top concerns. You’re going to want to find, hire and keep the best people so quality and service at your new restaurant matches the standards you set in your first venue.

An effective tactic for ensuring you can manage additional staff is to lean on technology for extra support. Finding a staff management system can be of great benefit in in making sure you’ve always got training materials, staff accounts and rotas at your fingertips.

3. What types of payments will you accept?

We all know now days you need to be able to accept both cash and card payments, but the way you take these payments can vary a lot. Will you have tableside payment, where a member of staff takes their payment, or up to the counter to settle their bill?

A lot of customers are now preferring to skip the middle man and pay via an app, and not need to wait to talk to a member of staff. This is also convenient for your customers as they can easily split bills and pool money within the app. This can seem like it’s on the impersonal side, but customers do love the time saving aspect of apps.

Although this may be out of reach for a lot of smaller restaurants it is worth looking into. Check out Wahaca’s app for some restaurant app inspiration.

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The Wahaca app makes it easy to pay right from your table

4. How will you maintain a great experience?

A restaurant management and booking system (like Booking Ninja for example, that’s a great one) can be of tremendous help. As we not only make booking online simple and manageable, we also create profiles for individual customers and provide general online bookings analytics, we also have a feature for collecting feedback from customers after their visit. This is especially important in the early days of your second venue, as it can tell you straight away what is working your new customer base and what isn’t.

With tools like Booking Ninja at your disposal and the right research and preparation you’ll be able to expand beyond your original solo restaurant and create more loyal customers than ever before.

If you’ve got some good regulars they’ll likely want to try out your new place. To make them feel more at home you could even move one or two of your existing staff to help start up the new one, having a familiar face for customers visiting will stop them feeling it’s too ‘different’ to the first, and you could have that same staff member help with training the new team if they’re up to the challenge.

5. What type of technology will you need?

Now that you have two venues under your management you’re going to need a bit of extra help keeping them both running successfully and independently of each other.

A tool such as, oh I don’t know… Booking Ninja, let’s you create more than one restaurant for the same account so you can keep track of bookings, customers, busy & quiet days and feedback on your venues all from one system.

Online POS systems can also help with keeping consistency across different venues, allowing you to transfer menus, branding materials and even employee training & accounts from one location to another, so you’re not starting from the ground up all over again.

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Thanks for reading!