"The strongest brands provide the same experience regardless of where the restaurant is located; and in order to accomplish this, it is imperative that each location in the system consistently do the following."
For emerging restaurant concepts, scale is the name of the game. Increasing the number of locations is the quickest way to obtaining meaningful additions to revenue; however, the industry is littered with brands that didn’t get it right—chains that grew too much too quickly. There is a delicate balance between growth and instilling processes that ensure quality and consistency at each location. The strongest brands provide the same experience regardless of where the restaurant is located; and in order to accomplish this, it is imperative that each location in the system consistently do the following:
Adhere to brand standards
Listen to customers about their experience
Building out brand standards should be the first step in developing a business plan for multi-location restaurants, including a process easy to replicate providing a system of checks and balances. The common problem: as location counts begin to increase, there are often fewer resources to ensure brand standards are met. The solution: routine audits and mystery shops. Whether conducted internally or externally, these evaluations can safeguard brand compliance and provide a system of accountability mirroring crew training to “inspect what you expect”. Another advantage, evaluations can be used to identify and reward employees for ‘doing the right thing’.
Capturing the voice of the customer (VOC) is of equal importance as customer-based feedback clarifies what guests value during a visit. And can further help each restaurant understand how it is delivering against guest expectations. With this feedback in hand, restaurant operations can then set priorities and adapt services as dining preferences change. VOC can easily be extracted from customer surveys or through unsolicited feedback via contact centers, web forms, review sites, or more prevalently – social media.
At the end of the day, the formula for growth in the restaurant industry, while difficult to execute, is not complex. Simply generate traffic into each location, deliver an operationally excellent experience that delights customers so they return, and refer the brand to friends and family.
By integrating operational measurements like audits and mystery shops with subjective measurements like surveys and social reviews, Market Force supports emerging brands by helping to answer three essential questions for growth: i) what matters most to my customers, ii) where do operational deficiencies exist, and iii) what is the ROI for investing in one initiative compared to another.