The restaurant industry is prone to the “staying small” trap. It can be easy to start a restaurant, but it demands long hours and extreme amounts of work, often by the entire family.
The restaurant may also supply very little financial return and it can be very hard to expand.
Have you considered franchising?
That being the case, more entrepreneurs should consider the possibility of franchising their operation, whether they ever reach that goal or not.
By thinking of a first restaurant as the beginning of a franchise, an operator is already on the way to beating the biggest problem most restaurants face—a failure to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Look for a particular kind of food, a certain ambiance or, most especially, a process that can be duplicated and performed by anyone.
This latter point is extremely important in the restaurant business. Every aspect of its operation, even small details such as what servers wear or the seating arrangements, must be analyzed and tested for efficiency and effectiveness and written down.
These procedures can then be followed by anyone who wants to create a better, more profitable restaurant. They force you to concentrate on the business of the restaurant and not only the technical aspects of the operation, such as cooking or serving.
Examine your personality
Before you actually go ahead with franchising your restaurant, you need to examine your motivations and personality.
If you simply like to cook, or serve people, you are a doer and will not be happy or successful operating a full-blown restaurant chain. If you are a manager type, you will concentrate only on financial and logistical aspects, but be frustrated by the more artistic cooking and serving process. An entrepreneur, on the other hand, will spend much time planning a restaurant chain but will avoid the detailed managerial work.
A successful franchisor must combine these characteristics—he must be a doer, a manager and an entrepreneur.
Identify and codify your processes
Codifying your processes will also help with another large problem in the restaurant industry: Attracting investors.
These days, a restaurant must invest large amounts of capital in equipment, décor and staff.
People who supply this capital—investors or lenders—require that restaurateurs know what they are doing. Having a clear and detailed business plan, with all processes identified and codified, goes a long way toward meeting this requirement.
Joining a franchise
If you are thinking of becoming a franchisee of an existing restaurant chain, much of the work listed above has been done for you. For these reasons, franchise networks tend to be much more successful than independent restaurants.
Not all are, however, so it is up to you as a potential franchisee to determine if the network meets all the above requirements and if the master franchiser will offer intensive training in restaurant operation.