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Blog / July 21, 2022

6 Restaurant Expansion Strategies to Try

Stephanie Schalow Headshot

Stephanie Schalow

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for expanding a restaurant business. Growth can come in many forms. Whether you want your restaurant to be as ubiquitous as McDonald’s or simply would like to open a second location, our restaurant expansion strategies can help you take the next step.

Keep reading for:

  • Our top restaurant expansion strategies
  • Best practices for restaurant expansion

How to Expand Your Restaurant

Ready to take your business to the next level? Study these expansion strategies for inspiration for how to expand your restaurant.

1. Add New Revenue Streams

You can grow your food business while maintaining the same footprint by introducing new revenue streams, such as:

  • Offering off-premises dining via takeout and delivery
  • Selling branded merchandise in your restaurant and online
  • Introducing catering services
  • Offering prepaid bookings to secure advanced revenue during your busiest times
  • Organizing events and selling tickets for them
  • Renting your space out for events

These strategies can help you grow your business without spending more on real estate.

2. Create a Mobile Concept

Consider making a mobile concept part of your restaurant expansion business plan. A food truck or pop up can help you reach new audiences outside of your walls.

With a food truck, you can serve your delicious dishes in new areas or cater events. Having a food truck is a low-stakes way to see how popular your concept could be in a different location, or test new menu items in the place where you already have name recognition. 

There are a number of ways to expand your business through pop ups. Some bars and venues don’t have kitchens or chefs but instead work with restaurants to serve food to their clientele. For example, Philadelphia rooftop bar Bok Bar partners with a local restaurant or chef every few weeks for their food menu. Seek out similar partnerships in your neck of the woods.

Setting up a booth at a seasonal or pop up market is also a good way to reach new customers.

3. Expand Your Space

If you’re consistently booked to full capacity, you may want to consider growing your business by increasing capacity. See if the space next door to your restaurant is available. If not, consider making adjustments to your current layout to increase capacity. If there’s no way to increase capacity within your current footprint, move to a new, larger space.

4. Open a Second (or Third or Fourth) Location

If your existing restaurant concept has been successful and financially viable for several years, why not replicate the concept and open more locations? You can own and operate them yourself if you want full control, or franchise your concept if you’re up for a new challenge.

5. Start a Franchise

Considering global domination? Franchising your restaurant can help you get there. If you want to scale your brand, let other entrepreneurs handle it by starting a franchise and selling the rights to operate your business. Franchising can help your brand reach new markets at scale.

6. Form a Hospitality Group

Another restaurant expansion strategy is to open different concepts and operate them under one hospitality group. Hospitality group Bloomin’ Brands, for example, began with Outback Steakhouse and has since grown to include Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill, Fleming’s and other concepts.

Leverage the name recognition from your existing restaurant to generate buzz for and draw customers to your new concepts.

Best Practices for Restaurant Expansion

Deciding how to expand your restaurant is only the beginning. Follow these best practices to execute your restaurant expansion business plan successfully.

Create a Consistent Experience

Whether you’re repeating the same concept or opening new ones as you grow, it’s important to create a consistent experience that represents your brand at each restaurant. 

Start by putting your company’s values down in writing to ensure that you exhibit them at all of your new locations. Then, formalize employee and manager training to ensure all employees perform at the same level.

Use guest data to create a consistent dining experience across properties. Reference guest profiles from your customer relationship management (CRM) platform to anticipate guests’ needs as they dine from one restaurant to the other. 

For example, let’s say you learn that a customer doesn’t eat dairy when they dine at your restaurant. Your team should make a note of this in the guest’s profile. Then, when that customer visits your sister restaurant, the staff there should see the note on the profile and be ready to point out dairy-free options.

Focus on Branding

Brand visibility is extremely important as you grow your restaurant empire. Feature your brand prominently across all customer touchpoints. 

For physical touchpoints, include your brand all over your restaurant’s interior, signage, menus, delivery packaging and staff uniforms.

When it comes to digital assets, look for tech partners that whitelabel their consumer-facing platforms so you can strengthen your brand’s presence, not theirs. SevenRooms lets you whitelabel its reservations platform so you can put your brand front and center.

Use Values-Based Hiring

Form dream teams at your new locations by finding employees who will fit into the existing culture and who share your values. Then, use veteran team members to train new hires. Shadowing is encouraged for both training and team-building purposes.

Grow Your Audience Through Marketing 

Marketing is something you need to be doing consistently to help keep a steady flow of customers coming as you expand your restaurant business. Leverage email marketing, social media, PR and ads to let people know about new locations, pop ups and franchise opportunities.

You don’t have to do it all yourself. With marketing automation software, you can spend less time sending emails. SevenRooms leverages guest data from your CRM to send highly targeted email marketing campaigns on your behalf.

Cross-Promote Sister Properties

Keep it in the family as your business grows by promoting sister properties to existing customers. Mention your other restaurants on social media and in email newsletters. 

If one venue is booked up for an evening, promote your sister properties through your reservations page by letting guests know which other locations have tables available.

Wrapping Up: Restaurant Expansion Strategies

Franchising isn’t the only way to grow your restaurant business. From adding new revenue streams or a mobile component to the business, to expanding your existing space and adding new locations, the possibilities are endless.

Set yourself up for success by following expansion best practices. Create a consistent experience at every touchpoint, focus on branding and marketing, hire people who share your values and cross-promote sister properties.

SevenRooms’ enterprise solutions can help you scale your restaurant. Book a demo today.

FAQs About Restaurant Expansion Strategies

1. What Is Good Growth for a Restaurant?

The rate at which restaurant guests are spending per visit grew during this past quarter. Average check growth of 3.1% in Q4, year-over-year, is significant. 

2. How Can I Make My Restaurant More Popular?

These tips can help you attract more customers to your restaurant: promote your business on social media, offer free wi-fi, provide live music, leverage email marketing, sign up for online ordering and food delivery apps, give away gift cards and partner with social media influencers.

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