Many large, successful businesses start off in someone’s garage, basement, or kitchen. As a home-based food business owner, you may be standing at your kitchen counter right now, wondering what’s next in line. Do you stay here and fill up your living room and extra storage with delivery boxes? Or is it time to expand your business?
It’s every food business owner’s dream to expand into a commercial eatery of their own, set amidst the bustling market streets and gaining its own crowd. There are several practical reasons for expanding your business, like:
- Wanting to respond to growing demand for your product.
- Moving into a bigger market.
- Needing more space to conduct operations.
- Increasing your visibility as a brand.
While all of these points are perfectly logical reasons to expand your home-based restaurant, there are countless other considerations you need to keep in mind before you make that final decision.
Before you move your business into that cosy little cafe space in town or start building that outdoor eatery you’ve always thought about, here are some factors for you to consider:
1. Do you have an optimal location in mind for the restaurant?
This is the first thing you need to think about when you get the idea to expand your restaurant. You might have initially done well while operating from the comfort of your own kitchen. But now that you’re looking to grow your reach, you need to consider a ton of factors about where you should locate yourself.
Before you go ahead with deciding on a location, here are some basic questions you should ask yourself:
- Where is your customer base located?
- Where are you located?
- Are you going for a central location or somewhere separated from the market traffic?
- Will you be leasing or purchasing?
It’s extremely important for your location to be in a place that is easy for your customers to reach. If your home kitchen was a convenient location, your commercial restaurant needs to be convenient as well. This means that customers should be able to either reach it with ease, or get easy delivery.
Similarly, your location should be easy for you to reach as well. As a newly expanded business, you’re likely to experience late nights and constant commutes. Find a location closer to your home to save on commute time and expenses.
You also need to figure out how you’ll be attaining your new property. Will you be purchasing a shop or leasing a space? It may make sense to buy a place if you’re looking to turn this expansion into a long-term investment, but leasing might make more sense if you want to get your finances stable first.
2. Are all your permits in order?
Everyone requires a permit to start their own business, but chances are that the city you’re located in requires occupancy permits as well. If you’re looking to move out of your home kitchen into a brand new space, the first thing you’ll need is a permit to operate the business from a commercial location.
This will likely also vary depending on what sort of operations you’re running in your location. So, make sure you have your permits and licenses in order before you decide to upscale your business operations.
Some of the most important licenses and permits you’ll need to open your business are:
- Restaurant business license. You’ll need to visit the US Small Business Association’s website to see what rules you need to follow for a license to get a license specific to your state.
- Restaurant food service license. This will vary with the type of restaurant you operate and will be issued by your state’s health department.
- Restaurant liquor license. Since alcohol laws vary from state to state, you’ll need to check out your state’s Alcohol Beverage Control Board for both an on-license and an off-license.
- Food handler’s permit. Check with your state’s department of health to learn how you can earn this certification.
- Employee Identification Number. While this isn’t a license itself, you’ll need this when applying for permits with the state. Apply for an EIN through the IRS website to get started on other license applications.
3. Is your current consumer base big enough?
You might have a string of loyal customers who love your signature dishes. But is that enough to want to expand?
Think about your current customer base. How many buy from you regularly? Do they prefer your food items over other competitor options? Are they likely to stay loyal to you if you shift locations and move to a more public area?
To figure this out, take a dive deep into the habits of your current and potential customers. Find out which menu items are popular and should be kept. Learn what attracts them most to your current business. Is it the food? The location? The service? Figure out what will keep them loyal to your service if you choose to expand into a more public location.
To do this, conduct surveys with your regular customers. Keep a database of your current customer contact list and email them with a short survey to find out what aspects of your business they are most attracted to. Make sure they know that their most preferred factors will be replicated in your new commercial space.
Of course, not everyone will fill in a random survey in their inbox. Give your customers a reason to respond by offering a special discount voucher that can be availed only by filling the questionnaire. Once you find out that enough customers are loyal to your services and can be retained, you can consider expansion.
4. Has your team been assembled?
You might be doing most of the work at home by yourself, with a little help from family. That’s acceptable in a home-based work environment. But if you’re thinking of expanding, you’ll need a lot more help.
Take a look at the help you currently have. Is it enough to help you run a public eatery? For this, you’ll need to first make some decisions on how much you’ll be handling yourself and how much you’ll be delegating.
Your first task here is to do one of two things:
- Manage the new location yourself.
- Hire another manager to keep operations running in your absence.
While it’s good to still be in charge of things to make sure everything is running smoothly, there’s no harm in delegating work to a manager who can oversee things on your behalf from time to time.
And that’s not all the hiring you need to do. Here’s a short list of the manpower you will need in a commercial eatery:
- Kitchen staff
- Waiting staff
- Cooks and bakers
- Cleaning staff
Do a survey of the labor market in your area. Put out some ads in the newspaper and online. If you find a good amount of people who are interested in working with you, you’re at a better place to move out of your kitchen and start expanding into a public location.
5. What else are you expanding in your restaurant?
If you’re expanding your business, surely you must be thinking about expanding your menu as well. Take a minute to think about the extent of your expansion strategy.
Simply moving to a public location may not be enough. You need to show through other means that you’re a grown business with much more to offer your customers. Your menu and the services you offer are a huge part of this. They will show your audience how much you’ve branched out and improved over time.
Take a look at your current menu and see what additions you can make to it. Add some new dishes that your customers would love trying. Or take an old item and put a new spin on it. Your custom breakfast menu can be converted into a live omelette station and a smoothie bar. You can make a show out of your signature coffee range by hiring a talented barista who knows coffee art.
Make sure your customers know these changes are taking place by including them in your new, expanded menu. This is one area you don’t need to worry much about. The internet has you covered. Use PosterMyWal to change up your menu with ease by gaining access to a wide range of free restaurant menu templates.
All you need to do is create a free account on PosterMyWall and pick your template of choice. Then hop onto the editor to add your own personal touches. If you’re going for a bigger place, you’ll need a more prominent menu. One that showcases all the new things you have to offer.
See if you can add a digital signage board to present your new, better menu. Once you have that ready, you’ll be better prepared to succeed in a bigger place.
6. What promotional strategy do you have in mind?
You’ve decided you want to expand into a bigger place. And you’ve even taken all of the above points into consideration before making the decision. That’s great. But you’re still missing a key ingredient.
You can’t grow your food without having a proper promotional strategy in place. Your expansion plan is incomplete if your customers aren’t fully aware of what you have in store for them.
So think about what you need to do to ensure that your new restaurant is being marketed efficiently. Will you be announcing your expansion through social media? Are you planning on creating a range of vibrant flyers to post around town? Have you reached out to your email contact list to let them know there’s something to look forward to?
To get you started, here’s a short list of effective promotional measures you can use to make sure your food business stays on the map:
- Plan a soft launch and invite your current regulars and influential bloggers to dine with you and post a review.
- Keep your social media following engaged by offering live video updates of the expansion process.
- Engage in interactive online conversations with your following. Use your Twitter page and Instagram feed to ask your customers what their favorite aspects of your business were. Get suggestions on what additions and improvements they would like to see in the new restaurant and use these opinions to plan out your restaurant design.
- Provide special discount vouchers to your current regulars to ensure footfall in the early days of your launch.
- Use PosterMyWall to create vibrant restaurant delivery flyers to post across town and catch the public’s eye. Every customer loves convenience, and there’s nothing more convenient than getting your favorite food delivered to your doorstep. So make sure to put up your delivery flyers in all the areas you deliver in to make sure your customers know you’re ready to come to them with your best selling offers.
Promoting your new business decision is just as important as actually making the decision. And with these tips, you’ll be ready to expand.
Ready to expand your food business?
Expanding out of the comfort of your home and into a more public location can be daunting. You can’t just do it without a proper plan in place. There are a million things to take into consideration first.
Before you make a decision, take some time to think about your strengths and weaknesses as a home-based business. Ask yourself all the questions raised above.
Once you’ve answered all these questions, it’s time to take your food business to the next level. So get an early start on your marketing strategy and promote your new restaurant in style with PosterMyWall’s range of design templates today.