Whether you are a franchise or other small business owner, you probably have asked yourself at some point how to grow your business. Entrepreneurship is both rewarding and extremely hard. You must lead, coach, counsel and direct your employees each day. You have to walk the talk and be the chief executive, the bookkeeper, the marketing department and even HR.
Because of this, it’s best to focus on growing one step at a time—don’t try to skip steps along the way. For example, even as a franchisor, Penn Station focuses on assisting franchisees with opening one successful restaurant and then another, as opposed to lofty goals that we could attempt to achieve without regard for our franchisee’s profitability and their overall success.
Before you think about growing your business, make sure your current operations are going well and you have the infrastructure in place to grow. Your current location or locations should be profitable before you open more. If they aren’t, fix any operational or marketing problems to increase sales, then focus on opening one location at a time.
Your goal could be to increase sales or open more locations, but no matter how you want to grow, advice from people who have already succeeded is a great place to start. We asked some of our top franchises for their tips on growing your franchise business. Here’s what they had to say.
Eric Fairbanks, owner of two Penn Station restaurants in North Carolina
Focus on operations first and then marketing. Operations are having the right person running your restaurant, following the procedures, training the team, and then backing them with good systems and support. The rest will follow. The baseline for marketing is community involvement. Personal relationships with local schools, churches, athletics and business leaders go a long way with local marketing.
John Doyle, owner of nine Penn Station restaurants in Ohio
You have to have an infrastructure in place to grow, and you don’t want to grow too fast. Going from one to two locations is kind of like having multiple children. Two stores feel like three or four when you have to split your time and resources, so make sure you are completely ready before you make the move.
Jeff Kelsey, owner of nine Penn Station restaurants in Kentucky and Indiana
Have both short- and long-term plans. Pay attention to the details and hire individuals who believe in your values and culture—don’t just hire warm bodies.
Don Robinson, owner of 20 Penn Station restaurants in Kentucky
Focus on developing a strong team and culture inside your four walls before trying to increase traffic with promotions. You should go to over-prepared and deliver from day one.
Growing is a natural next step once you have a successful, profitable business. To maintain your success, avoid pitfalls like growing too fast and never lose focus on operational excellence.