How to turn a single outlet into a chain: Top ten tips

Follow our experts' and operators' advice to launch a successful second or third site

We asked a selection of experts and operators for their top tips on how to turn a single restaurant, pub or hotel into a chain of two or more sites.

"Think clearly about the welfare, training and development of the people you employ because ultimately the retention of that investment is huge. It’s one of the most costly elements of running any business anyway." – Nick Halliday, managing director, Abode Hotels.

"When working with a designer, have a really clear brief about what your brand is, how you want to develop your business and what your customer profile is. The more you communicate to your designer the better the end product will become." – Adam Zombory-Moldovan, founder of architect company ZMMA.

"If you go into your bank half-cocked you’ll be turned down. Also, it’s usually a one-shot deal with your bank and if your concept doesn’t fit into the bank manager’s often narrow view of what will work, and what won’t, you’re likely to get rejected. This can be demoralizing, but remember there are other options available like the Enterprise Investment Scheme or private equity." - Paul Thompson, director, Acorn Finance.

"Ask friends in the industry for recommendations for builders who can deliver on time and on budget. We’ve opened four different places and used four different sets of builders so far." – Huw Gott, co-founder, The Underdog Group.

"No matter how big a brand you want to become, remember to stay focused on delivering an experience for your customers. People are more discerning these days and are looking for something different to a chain that feels its offer has been delivered straight from the assembly line." – Tom Byng, founder, Byron.

"Understand your product and how it places into the local market. Consider what your offer is and why it’s different to the rival brands already out there." - Richard Negus, executive director, Fleurets.

"The most vital issue you must consider is the level of competition when considering new sites. Where there's a lot of competition, like Islington, there's a lot of demand. As long as you're better than the rest you'll win." - Eric Partaker, co-founder, Chilango.

"Make sure that your rent will be affordable. Don’t be too optimistic about how your business will perform." - Simon Chaplin, director, Christie & Co.

"Our expansion in recent years has been dependend on having everything in place as soon as the right sites come up. It's vital to have the right people, operational systems and finance all ready to go at the same time, as well as having enough extra resource to keep all of the existing sites running as they should." - Hannah Bass, operations director at ETM Group.

"Don’t over complicate the brand, keep it simple, flexible and effective. With regards to the graphics and branding we look to provide our clients with a concise and portable brand tool kit which ensures consistency when the brand is applied to multiple sites. With regards to the interiors we would recommend clients establish parts of the existing concept that would be recognized in other locations." – Anne Rhind, associate and Garry Clemente, branding director at Design LSM.

Read more articles in this series here.

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