MRM EXCLUSIVE: Growing Your Restaurant Franchise: It’s All About Perspective

The restaurant industry is quite possibly the epitome of what business people view as those who are “stuck” in what they do for a living as opposed to “working” on what they do or moving toward a goal.  It is a business category overflowing with some of the most talented and detail-oriented people on the planet who, in many cases, literally can’t get out of their own way. 

Why do some brands grow, expand and seemingly leap into new markets without a care in the world …

Over the years, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with restaurant owners and food service entrepreneurs in my work as a franchise consultant.  What I’ve found is that only a very small percentage of food service business owners really “get” what it means to build systems and structures that would allow them to actually “own” a business versus “owning a job.” It is an understandable quagmire. 

The food service business model quite possibly has more moving parts, more hard to control variables, less dedicated staff and more unruly customers that any other business on the planet.  So why do some brands grow, expand and seemingly leap into new markets without a care in the world and others devour their owner’s lives in the kitchen as they slave away for decades to never expand beyond the original four walls?  There are many things that would play a part here, but what I’ve found is that it really comes down to one very simple variable: perspective. 

The Victim

The first type of restaurant owner is what I affectionately call “The Victim.” The Victim always has something going wrong for them. Literally, the world has collapsed on their head every day of their existence since they opened the restaurant. They just can’t seem to catch a break and are really motivated to tell everyone about it. You can typically find the Victim in the kitchen, probably because one of their employees let them down and they were forced back into hard labor. The Victim’s perspective is that doing as much hard work with their own two hands is the best way for them to contribute to the success of the business. They don’t understand why the business doesn’t have direction, why people don’t see them as a leader and they have a hard time elevating themselves to anything more than an hourly employee within their own business. 

The Dreamer

The second type of food service entrepreneur is “The Dreamer.” The Dreamer is always talking big, sees opportunity for growth and is always dipping their toe in the pool of innovation. Most of the time, the Dreamer is in their office or at the register. They like to talk with customers and share their excitement or get caught up writing up plans and reviewing the expansion goals in the back office. Dreamers have a hard time executing and don’t put the systems in place needed to make the dream a reality. 

The Commander

The third type of restaurant owner is the profile who franchises effectively. “The Commander” is generally not in the location at all. They stop in to check on people and see how the operation is doing, they put people and processes in place to allow others to succeed and they never even hint at the idea of their coming back into the restaurant to lend a hand in operations. Their perspective is to build the business and work on strategic initiatives that will grow the company. Commander’s restaurants have more than one company location, they have franchised, they offered Joint Ventures … they do something that scales the business and capitalizes on their brand and business model.   

Every restaurant owner has a unique perspective in what it takes to make their food service business successful, but typically, you can categorize business owners into one of three categories. None are necessarily better than the other, but if you are aiming to scale and grow outside of your original location and not be stuck, your perspective needs to be addressed.