In the restaurant industry, expanding to more than one location isn’t uncommon, but often, it comes with added pressure, since there’s now more staff to hire and manage. Then, of course, there’s the large financial investment that comes with opening a restaurant.
Yet, with added stress comes an abundance of opportunity. The private events sector is booming — according to research done by Gather, it’s a major revenue driver within the industry, making up 20-30 percent of revenue for restaurants. This means companies with additional locations have even more hosting opportunities. While incorporating a private events business seems like a no-brainer, planning and hosting private parties can be uncharted waters for a lot of owners. So, how can restaurant owners learn to navigate the private events business at more than one location without dropping the ball or simply, going crazy? Check out the below tips and suggestions.
Take Time to Establish Each Location
It’s true, private events can make up a piece of the revenue stream for restaurants, but 70-80% of profits still come from the bread and butter of the business: casual diners. Before jumping into private events, make sure the restaurant is off the ground and running. Take your time building that initial clientele, and the rest will follow. Private events can be an undertaking, so a great first step is to get people excited about the dining experience.
Don’t Treat Each Location the Same
For each location to reach its greatest potential and be successful, it needs to be treated as a separate entity within the company. Although brand awareness is the goal, each restaurant will be in a different location, could possibly reach different clientele, and have a different menu, so it’s important to play to that location’s strengths and market it to maximize its potential.
Does each restaurant have the same menu, but specials change based on location? Market those specials as something new and exciting each month or week (dependent on the timeframe), driving foot traffic and an increase in event leads. Or maybe each location has a different flare and ambiance with a unique menu and vibe? Treat each restaurant as if they aren't connected, making them a unique hotspot for private dining. Take into consideration all aspects of the restaurant when properly marketing each location.
Find Yourself a Stellar Management Team
Hiring the right management team can be difficult. They’re expected to keep all aspects of the restaurant running smoothly, which can be a lot of pressure when you add managing private events into the mix. Because each restaurant location is just one branch of the company, it's important that management at all locations work with one another, ultimately understanding that bringing in business for the company is the main goal. Knowing what is going on across the board is key. During the interview process, look for people that are willing to go the extra mile, can work well with others, and are ultimately looking to help you grow your business. They’ll need to work as an extension of yourself and accurately represent the company’s values.
Take Advantage of Technology
Using the same technology platform across multiple locations creates efficiency and consistency when planning private events. Mistakes are minimized and communication is improved, as paper trails become a thing of the past and all information for each location is stored on one platform. No more worrying about lost forwarded emails, because all communication between employees and clients can be traced using the software’s portal, minimizing mistakes due to miscommunication. Using events software also allows owners and managers insight into all the restaurant’s locations, which means they’ll have the ability to book a larger volume of leads.
Sometimes one location might be booked due to a high volume of parties during that day or time period. This is huge for driving sales across multiple locations, because according to the Harvard Business Review, businesses who contact a potential client within an hour of an initial inquiry are 60 times more likely to close the deal with that venue. Additionally, customization is key when working with clients who are trying to differentiate the experience for their guests. By using a software like Gather, managers handling client requests are able to easily design custom menus and create estimates based off of those requests without starting from scratch on an Excel spreadsheet.
Opening multiple locations is a key first step in growing a business, but in many cases, owners are deterred from making this decision due to the overwhelming added stress and financial obligations that go along with it. Using the tips above should help encourage growth, unlocking untapped revenue through private events at each new location.