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The COVID-19 pandemic altered the restaurant industry considerably, causing many struggling restaurants to shut down or reduce their business hours. But today, many establishments are back in the swing of things and bringing in pre-pandemic restaurant sales numbers.
As many restaurants move forward from the hardships of the previous couple of years, there’s more opportunity to open an additional restaurant location. There are tons of restaurants of all different sizes and styles across the country, and seven out of 10 of those are single-unit operations, according to the National Restaurant Association. This means that there are many managers who may be considering branching out or expanding their operations to different neighborhoods, cities or states.
If the thought of expanding locations is going through your head but you’re undecided, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at how you can best transition to operating multiple restaurant locations at once, what management styles may work for you and why you should contemplate opening a second restaurant.
Transitioning from one to multiple restaurants
Whether you choose to open multiple restaurants or simply want a single unit, there’s only one of you, the owner. Because restaurant management can be taxing, running more than one establishment can be challenging. Here are some common factors to consider when making the decision to branch out:
If your goal is to open another restaurant business, then you must ensure your finances can support that choice. Opening another location for your business requires a building, new equipment, technology, employee salaries and benefits, raw materials, dining materials and more. There’s a lot to consider! Depending on the financial establishment that you bank with, there should be loans and funding available to you. Some of these options may include equipment and technology loans, working capital loans and lines of credit. It’s important to review your restaurant business plan as you consider your options to expand.
Although you’re the restaurant owner or manager for a reason, owning and operating multiple restaurant locations comes with the need to ask for help. You may think you can do it all on your own, but you’ll most likely end up burnt out and tired.
Be willing to delegate some of the responsibilities to another trusted person’s shoulders so you don’t have to bear the burden of successfully running every aspect of your business. That may mean handing over the financial side of your business and having an accountant or specific money-focused employee handle the cash your restaurant makes. Or, maybe you should take a step back from the employee relations side of restaurant management: hire a designated human resource professional to ensure the people working for you have what they need. Whatever the tasks may be, ensure that you have other people to help you.
Time and attention
This factor goes hand-in-hand with delegation. Time management is key when it comes to running multiple eateries at once. When you open a new restaurant, you can expect a very work-heavy beginning full of long hours that require a great deal of commitment. Plan to divide your time between your various restaurant locations as best as you can by scheduling regular visits to check in and see how things are going.
If you’re opening a branch of an existing brand or franchise, then you must ensure that your customers will receive the same experience at this new location as the current restaurant. People want the convenience of having a branch of their favorite restaurant near their home or workplace, but they won’t want to sacrifice quality. Give them a positive customer experience by making the additional business an extension of their already beloved restaurant, featuring all the well-known aspects of your brand.
There are many more elements to take into consideration when adding a new restaurant to your portfolio, and, there are as many management styles that you can employ to make this a smooth transition.
Restaurant management types to test out
Being a restaurant manager is a constant balancing act. It’s helpful to pin down your management style and build guidelines for you and your other authoritative figures to follow to ensure a consistent front. Here are some of the more frequently used leadership styles:
This is a type of management where the person in charge makes confident decisions and gives very few explanations for why they did something a particular way. You can think of it as the “because I said so” approach to taking charge. The benefits of this style include the ability to make decisions on the fly, the appearance of full control and quick reactions during emergencies.
In contrast to the previous approach, a democratic leader considers the restaurant staff majority when making decisions. People who use this style of management will ask questions, seek opinions and engage with employees regarding everything that happens at the restaurant. The pros of this approach are that everyone will feel like a part of the decision-making process, and, therefore, it can foster a sense of community. Just be cautious not to allow too many cooks in the kitchen (literally), because this can make coming to a final decision difficult.
Just like a sports team, a manager who guides their restaurant staff can work toward future goals and boost morale. This management style is all about instructing new hires, teaching cooking techniques or testing out different equipment. The only issue this style of leadership can have is when someone just isn’t fitting into your restaurant’s culture. It can be difficult for these “coaches” to let people on their team go, even if it’s what’s best for the restaurant.
The benefits of managing multiple establishments
Even with its challenges and obstacles, opening up another restaurant can truly benefit you. One of the main perks of managing more than one establishment at a time is the ability to take advantage of bulk discounts for food and supplies. When you serve more people, you need to purchase more ingredients, and many wholesale food companies will bring prices down when you buy higher quantities of raw goods. You can also share resources like staff and marketing materials across all of your locations.
If you serve a large customer base, your staff may be constantly overwhelmed. By opening another location, you can hire more people, spread the workload between the various locations and give your staff more of a break from constant high-volume shifts. On top of that, you’ll have more flexibility in terms of your employees’ scheduling and delivery hours. With additional staff and locations to choose from, team members can better find replacements for shifts they’re unable to fill and you can move people to specific locations when the restaurants are busier or need backup.
One additional (and recently developed) benefit of owning and operating multiple restaurants is the flexibility of the new establishment’s style. Let’s say that you want to open a new restaurant but don’t want to spend a fortune on a physical location. That’s where virtual restaurants come into the picture. Also called ghost or dark kitchens, virtual restaurants are delivery-only establishments that are located within an existing restaurant. They’re a great way to bring in new customers and more revenue without increasing your overhead costs. You can take advantage of Grubhub Direct online ordering and branded virtual restaurant services that make this type of restaurant a smooth process to open and operate.
Ready to open another restaurant? Take a peek at some tips and tricks for operating several establishments simultaneously.
Tips for running multiple restaurants
As a restaurant owner or manager, you have the power to make the process of opening a new restaurant work. Just implement some of these helpful guidelines to get started:
- Be organized: You may be able to get away with disorganized data, financial documentation and business processes with just one restaurant. However, overseeing multiple establishments requires automated inventory and operations management systems that can keep your reports and business intelligence secure.
- Be consistent: We already mentioned consistency as an important aspect of management, but we’re bringing it up again because it’s so vital to your restaurant’s success. Keep your procedures for all establishments the same by employing a multiple-unit POS restaurant management system to run your locations smoothly. This will also help you share staff across multiple locations without having to show them the ropes.
- Communicate: Using proper and efficient communication in one restaurant is important, but it’s essential for managing multiple-unit establishments. Make it easy for your employees to put their skills to work and understand what’s expected of them by being open and frequently sending messages, calling or meeting in person.
- Use technology: According to SmallBizGenius, 95% of restaurant owners say using technology improves the overall efficiency of their eateries, so invest in trusted resources that can help your company flourish.
Speaking of helpful technology, Grubhub for Restaurants is specifically designed to streamline your operations and make it easier for you to:
- Be more efficient.
- Make updates to your menu and services.
- Train employees properly and more quickly.
- Deliver to your customers.
You don’t have to manage multiple restaurants on your own. With Grubhub by your side, numerous operations can be a piece of cake!
Take advantage of Grubhub and reach 33+ million diners who are hungry for their next meal which could be from your restaurant. Partner with us today!