Do you want to be comfortable today, or really rich in a few years’ time?
If you’re a small hospitality or retail business owner with dreams of running a chain, you’ve probably picked the second option. The path to operating a chain isn’t smooth but it’s exciting, and the rewards are massive.
It isn’t the kind of thing that happens by accident, though, so the first thing you need to do is create a business plan that’s focused on getting you there.
This needs to include specific goals – exactly how many outlets do you eventually want to operate? How much profit do you want them to generate? And how long will it take you to achieve that?
Think about the challenges in your way, too, and what you’ll do to deal with them.
Your responsibilities will change in a lot of ways when you switch from running one shop to several, so it’s important to consider how you’ll adapt.
When you’re running a single outlet – especially if it’s just you on your own, or a couple of members of staff – you’re able to see everything that goes on from day to day, from customer service to footfall.
With a chain, you need to be organised and able to delegate effectively. You’ll also need great staff on board who you can trust to run the business successfully when you’re not there to watch.
Another thing to think about is how you’ll deal with the competition – in particular, with online retailers.
Even if you’ve built a loyal customer base in your local area, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get the same results when you open up in a new location, if your customers could just as easily shop online.
To contend with that, focus on the things that make your business a better option than buying online. Maybe your products fit a certain niche in the market – in which case, your expertise in that area, and the reputation that follows will be a big advantage.
Good customer experience is also vital. If you can offer an experience that customers want to come into a store for, you’ll be better placed to compete with online-only businesses.
That service should be consistent across all of your stores or restaurants, so be clear with your staff about what you expect, and how they should interact with customers.
Consistency with everything in your business, from your signage and interiors to staff uniforms and products, will help to build your reputation and develop a strong brand.
It should also help to create a sense of trust, as customers will know what to expect when they walk into any one of your stores.
Finally, to make any of this work, you need to keep a close eye on the numbers and measure your business’s growth. Stick to your plan, check it regularly, and put the work in, and you’ll be on your way to success.
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