Owning a restaurant can somehow be the most exciting thing in the world, and the most terrifying all at once. For many people, operating a restaurant is a dream come true. Unfortunately, many restaurants fail within the first year of business. If you’ve been lucky to experience longevity in your business but you’ve noticed a lull lately, you don’t have to panic about closing your doors.
What you may need, however, is to branch out.
Finding success with your restaurant is great, but you can’t stay the same forever. If you do, what will keep people coming back? Having great food and a good atmosphere can be enough to keep your business stable, but your goal should be to consistently grow, not remain stagnant. So, what changes can you make to your restaurant business to branch out and build on your success?
Building a Better Brand
If you really want to branch out, you need to stop thinking of your restaurant as a business and start thinking of it as a brand. In some cases, that might mean creating a complete overhaul of what your restaurant looks like and how you present it to the public.
Branding is important for any business. It gives people the opportunity to recognize who you are and what you do — and if your restaurant is already stable and you have a loyal customer base, you’re ready to build on that and create a brand that can carry you for many years to come.
Branding takes some creativity. It could include revamping your menu or creating something completely new to build around a specific theme or idea. Have certain colors in mind that people can associate with you, or a simple, recognizable logo. Take advantage of digital marketing techniques like social media and video marketing to reach a new audience.
When you want to turn your restaurant into a brand, you’ll need to make sure your name gets out everywhere, and you stick to the theme and ideas behind that brand. When more people recognize you as a brand, it builds your business’ reputation and will attract new customers.
Opening a Second Location
Part of building a brand can mean opening a new location for your business. You might offer the same things as your current restaurant, or something completely different but with the same branding behind it. Starting a catering business on the side, or even a food truck, can also be a great way to generate new traffic and grow your restaurant.
But, don’t go into branching out without planning ahead. First, make sure you’re covered from a legal standpoint. Opening a new business requires you to meet certain regulations and have special permits in place. You don’t need to put your current operations on hold to do that, but it’s important to make sure you have your legal bases covered before you open the doors on a new location.
It’s also important to make sure you have the funds to fully branch out. If you’ve been in a bit of a jam lately with your current restaurant, your credit score may be struggling. Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need a business loan to make a new location or catering business happen. If it’s something you believe in, you can take out a personal loan, even with no credit history.
Finally, you’ll have to share your idea with your partners and other members of your existing business. It’s easy to get excited about branching out and trying something new, but if everyone else isn’t on board, your new location may not get off the ground. Make sure the time is right before you present the idea to your partners, and communicate it in an effective and efficient way. Share your vision with them and alleviate any doubts they might have so they can share that vision, too. Using the right tactics to get them to support you will make the growth process much easier.
Creating a Bigger Buzz
If it isn’t the right time to open a second location or add onto your business, you can focus on bringing new people into your existing restaurant by offering events that generate buzz. Take a look at your slowest nights of the week. What can you do to bring people in on an otherwise-idle Wednesday?
What about team trivia nights during the week? People can come in small groups and play several rounds of trivia for cash prizes or restaurant gift cards. It’s a great way to ensure food and drink sales.
Open mic nights, karaoke, and even nightly food and drink specials are also great ways to entice people to come in throughout the week. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try different things. It can take some trial and error to see what really gets attention in your area.
Above all, remain consistent in everything you do to branch out your restaurant. When you’re confident in the brand you’re building, your business can continue to serve satisfied patrons for years to come without the risk of getting burned!