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Managing multiples: 9 Steps to Managing Multi-Location Restaurant Businesses

Managing multiples: 9 Steps to Managing Multi-Location Restaurant Businesses

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From full-service to fast food and everything in between, having the efficiencies that come with an existing brand, business model, and established infrastructure can be an advantage for operators. 

This article was written by Katie Fairchild, CMO of R365, for Retail & Restaurant Facility Business.

The dynamic world of running multi-units, multi-brands, and franchises offers many advantages. From full-service to fast food and everything in between, having the efficiencies that come with an existing brand, business model, and established infrastructure can be an advantage for operators. 

However, with these advantages comes unique challenges. One of the major issues for operators of multiple entities is that the individual businesses or locations may have their own goals, processes, software, language, and more. The final goal is for operators to streamline their operations and reporting to improve performance and maximize profits and create a successful and consistent brand.  

Below are nine tips for managing multi-restaurant locations: 

Create consistency

A restaurant group’s initial and continuing growth depends largely on the brand’s reputation. Recent statistics show that the average American has not tried a new restaurant in five months, and sixty percent of those surveyed said they enjoy ‘the comfort that comes with familiarity’ so it is important to be consistent. The guest experience includes everything from how the staff greets them to how their favorite dish comes out time and again, it’s important to be sure their expectations are met every visit. 

Standardize processes

The primary and perhaps most challenging part of running a multi-unit or franchise model is managing the complexity of many individual locations and all the variables involved in the day-to-day operations of each. Each location might have generic accounting software, a separate system for scheduling, a hodgepodge of systems for hiring and training, and a pen-and-paper for taking inventory. The first step is to implement standardized, trainable and scalable systems that maximize efficiency across multiple units.  

Centralize everything

With multiple entities and locations, it becomes difficult for operators to oversee everything. One of the primary challenges of operating a multi-unit restaurant business is the mashup of disparate systems used throughout the day. Ideally, once all the processes are standardized, they should be housed in a centralized management platform that helps operators set protocols and monitor each team’s performance both independently and collectively. This accessibility to real-time data is particularly beneficial for making on-the-fly decisions and monitoring restaurant performance remotely. 

Ensure visibility

While operators often want to ensure they have an accurate, up-to-date picture of the business and its performance, it’s just as important to provide leaders at all levels with similar insights pertinent to their responsibilities. When front-line leaders can see how their peers are performing, they can identify strengths and implement them in their areas to help the company grow. 

For example, if a manager sees that their colleagues are running about 3.5% for beverage compared to their 4.7%, they will ask themselves what to do differently going forward. Without comparing apples to apples, they would have assumed that they were doing the same as everybody else – ultimately leading to lost profits. 


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Empower communication

Managing a distributed team often means that operators cannot speak to their managers face-to-face every day. A cloud-based system with robust communication tools enables an environment in which managers and leaders across the company can share challenges and best practices to solve problems and seize opportunities together – regardless of their location. 

Delegate responsibility

Whether an operator is overseeing two restaurants or 200, building a team of trusted managers and delegating responsibility will be critical to success. It’s vital to ensure that front-line managers champion the company’s culture, share the same expectations for excellence, and have what they need to perform at their best. Plus, teaching and coaching your star front-line managers will expand the pipeline for future general managers and enterprise executives. 

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Provide managers with the technology to win

Top-line and bottom-line numbers are necessary, but managers at all levels need the ability to drill down into the specifics to bring any challenge or opportunity into focus. This will help them quickly leap into action rather than being unaware of a possible setback. For any multi-location group and its managers, consistently improving guest experiences, margins, and profits requires a detailed understanding of how they’re performing.  

Benchmark restaurant performance by location

As a multi-unit or franchise operator, it is critical to easily access and understand the corporate Profit and Loss reports (P&L) and each location’s P&L. Even more valuable is the ability to create a P&L of all locations side-by-side. This is the foundation of identifying the best-performing stores and bringing those that aren’t doing as well up to a higher standard. 

Reduce waste with automated intercompany accounting processes

For restaurants with multiple operations, transferring inventory between stores can be a great way to reduce spoilage. However, these transfers need to be recorded as accounting transactions. With a centralized database, transfers between restaurants are automatically recorded in the general ledger, while still allowing high-level management to see what is happening at the store level. This automated process can streamline the tedious task of making multiple separate entries, as well as increase the accuracy of data.   

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