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How to scale up your restaurant business plan without breaking the bank

Posted by the Wi5 Team27th August 2019General

Change is scary. It challenges us to think outside the box and wade into unknown waters, waters that could drag us to the depths or carry us to new opportunities. But, as explained by Simon Sinek:

Most people ignore opportunities because they see only danger. Entrepreneurs ignore danger because they see only opportunities.

As a business owner, then, it’s up to you to scale up your restaurant business, plan for the future, and face that fear of ‘what might happen.’ The thought of reinvesting in innovative areas and gambling on growth is only daunting if you haven’t prepared enough.

In this blog post, we explain what you need to consider when scaling up your restaurant business without breaking the bank, and how, by doing so, you can make your business more efficient and profitable.

1.     Automate where you can

In a report published by Toast, 95 percent of restaurateurs agreed that technology improves their business efficiency. By deploying smart technologies that develop processes and scale with you, you needn’t worry about the trouble of overhauling new systems that no longer meet your requirements (and spending an armful to do so).

There are plenty of affordable automation tools that can integrate into your existing POS systems. These will improve things like supplier management, customer experience, and how you handle your growing employee base, all without needing an employee to physically do that work.

For example, when Pizza Express integrated new online booking software into their existing POS systems, it allowed the company to analyse their entire customer journey, from booking all the way through to paying the bill. It also gave customers the chance to make reservations 24/7.

2.     Remain agile, remain competitive

As a small business looking to scale, you have two big advantages over larger competitors:

1. Your ability to provide a personalised customer experience.

2. Your ability to remain agile.

For large multinationals, change is difficult. It’s costly, time-consuming and bureaucratic. As a smaller business, however, if you can adopt new and innovative solutions early on, it’ll be easier to bring them with you as you grow.

A Mobile Order & Pay solution is one such example. We already know that two of the most important technology features for customers are online reservations and free Wi-Fi. We already know that digital ordering at restaurants will triple in volume by 2020. We also know that customers don’t want 20 different ordering apps cluttering their phones.

By finding a Wi-Fi-based alternative that lets customers connect to your internet, order direct from their phones and avoid the queues, you stand a good chance of outshining your new competitors as you enter into larger markets.

3.     Invest in areas that work for you

Opportunity is rife if your business is in a period of growth. And, if your restaurant business plan is strong enough, that means you can try new things without diving head first down the rabbit hole.

Perhaps you stumble across a new tool that makes employee scheduling easier, or you decide to invest in some iPads so that your employees can take orders direct from the palm of their hands. Whatever it might be, because you’re the decision maker, you have a chance to run some low-cost, small-scale testing across a variety of areas of your business before you decide to invest and scale.

The only trick is to know when to run with a new investment or idea, and when to call it a day. General Electric, for example, once tried to become a successful computer company, but after 13 unprofitable years, they gave up. Know better than they did.

4.     Build a reliable and flexible workforce

More than a third of restaurant operators have job openings that are difficult to fill, according to research by the National Restaurant Association. Further, only 40 percent of those employed in these types of jobs believe it is viable to have a long-term career.

If you’re considering scaling up your chain restaurant, be sure to invest in your people and build a reliable, consistent and close-knit team. The added expense of hiring a new employee mid-way through a stage of growth could make or break you.

5.     Diversify your revenue streams

Warren Buffet once said:

‘If you don’t find a way to make money in your sleep, you will work until you die.’

While the sentiment here is rather black and white, Buffet has a point: you need to diversify your income streams to maximise revenues and minimise risk, especially if you’re considering scaling up.

Ozone Coffee in London is great example. They’ve built a meeting room in the downstairs space of their coffee shop, which is available for corporate hire. Not only are businesses paying to host meetings here, but they’re also buying coffee and lunch at the shop upstairs.

Scale smart, not fast

Scaling up your business isn’t about speed or spending; you don’t need to invest large amounts of money into revolutionary new ideas that may or may not work. To scale without breaking the bank, you need a careful and considered approach that, ultimately, works towards one thing: an improved experience for the customer. Every restaurant business plan needs to have this goal at its heart.

By automating repetitive tasks, deploying innovative solutions like appless mobile ordering, and focusing on keeping your employees happy, you’ll stand a good chance of turning one-time customers into lifetime customers.

After all, it’s continuous improvement that makes you a better business, and its better business that will keep your customers. In the words of Life Coach Tony Robbins:

‘By changing nothing, nothing changes.’

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