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How to grow a restaurant into a multi-unit brand

Growing your restaurant into a multiunit isn’t necessarily difficult. However, it’s not without its pitfalls either. Many restaurants scale to 2-4 locations by replicating the procedures established in unit one and relying on “gut” to find new locations in the same market. Savvy restaurateurs are notable intuitive when it comes to this level of scale due to their natural ability to observe the world around them. But what happens when you start to grow outside of the area with which you’re acutely familiar? How do you ensure you’re picking the right spots for your restaurant brand?

Get ride of gut feeling, and replace with insightful thinking

The fact is, many leaders at this scale continue to go with their gut. Inevitably they start to pick locations that are doomed to fail because they seemed like a good fit. And thus begins the decline in footprint and negativity surrounding what could be a growing brand. In order to successfully scale a restaurant concept, you have to ditch decisions driven by gut feeling and replace them with more reliable tactics. Namely, data-driven insights and intelligence.

How do you acquire the data and insights necessary to scale?

There are numerous ways to accumulate the data needed to grow strong. You could rely on a commercial real estate agent to provide it, or you can get to work on your own research. Many visitations to the market you have in your crosshairs quickly increase your investment dollars with no guarantees of payoff. And commercial real estate agents will take your direction to find optimal spots, but what if your direction is off? Fear not, we have some tips!

Here are three steps to scale your restaurant brand with success:

Understand WHY your restaurant works so well today.

The first step is excavating what’s made your concept so successful. It’s easy to be arrogant and think you have a Midas touch and that it simply works because everything is amazing. But that’s not true (sorry.) Concepts realize success for a number of reasons. Yes, your keen senses help, as does sound operations, however, the other side of the equation is a match between people, the food they want, and various other factors including the type of real estate in the area, trips to and from the area, and more.

So understanding why your restaurant is rocking it should take into consideration the group of people who frequent the business and love it, the unique attributes of the neighborhood, the size and scale of your location, and more. We suggest documenting these details, and digging deeper into the people.

Identify WHO your brand attracts as early adopters.

It’s not enough to understand who your brand attracts as a whole. While that’s good, it won’t do much good when going into new markets. You need to identify the early adopters and the ones who love your restaurant brand the most. Newsflash: it’s not “everyone.”

Look through what data you have available to get an idea of demographics and psychographic profiles of those who are your most loyal and frequent guests. For psychographic information, you want to understand what other brands they buy and why? How do they fit into their projected values set? What makes them love those brands? What makes them love yours?

When you have this info documented, not only can you embark on a smarter approach to growth and scale, you can also deploy smarter and more effective restaurant marketing and advertising efforts!

Leverage location intelligence to find pockets in new markets.

The third step is to employ the knowledge you’ve excavated to find areas that have pockets of your customers. While a real estate agent is crucial in this search, we suggest using a location intelligence platform to help. The more information you have direct access to, the better the results will be.

Location intelligence should be specific to the restaurant industry and not merged with industries like retail, industrial, etc. It should leverage data from multiple sources, not just one, and should cover the bases of what’s needed to identify prime spots for your restaurant concept. With the right system, you should have insights into consumer behaviors, drive times, cannibalization if you’re a larger brand, market demographics and behaviors, and so much more. The more data and insights, the more informed your decision.

If you’re looking for a great location intelligence platform, we have a suggestion. It may be biased, but we happen to think Borne is the best!

Ask for the Borne Report!

If you’re working with a real estate agent, ask for the Borne Report on any location they show you. The Borne Report can give you deeper insights and a Score that helps you identify which is best for your concept.