Growth is what every restaurant operator wants, be it in sales at a single operation or multiple units of a large, franchised chain. We asked Steven S. Little, author of “The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Small Business Growth,” and a speaker at the 2014 Restaurant Leadership Conference, to tell us his suggestions for growing a business in today’s conditions. Here are his four core steps:
1. Have outstanding market intelligence. If you know your competition and understand how you’re different, you’ll be a step ahead of everyone else, Little says. To develop a concept that is “growable,” be clear on what you’re doing. And make sure everyone in your company, especially your frontline staff, knows your point of differentiation. “If they haven’t been trained on it, they can’t articulate it or demonstrate it,” Little says.
2. Plan for growth. “There’s a correlation between organizations that plan growth and have systems in place—they are written, communicated through the organization and regularly updated,” Little says. Just having the plan holds you to growing, he says, while the daily grind often takes our focus away from long-term plans. “And the more people you discuss it with, the more likely you are to go ahead with it,” he says. “It’s about putting stakes into the ground and saying, ‘We’re committed to this.’”
3. Make technology work. Operators who use technology most effectively constantly tweak it. Sometimes, says Little, “you need to examine that the [technology] tools are serving the growth plan and not working against it.” Survey your frontline people who are using the technology, and find out if it is helping business. “Usually, the systems aren’t the problem, it’s lack of knowledge about how to use the tools properly,” Little says.
4. Hire right. We should be slower to hire, he says, because recruiting and training are among the biggest expenses for operators. Use electronic assessments and background checks; never rely on your gut. We tend to hire ourselves, Little adds, which is a mistake; instead we should hire for a person’s problem-solving ability, cognitive skills and motivation.
Steven S. Little will lead an innovation forum at RLC,“The 7 Irrefutable Rules of Business Growth: 21st Century Strategies for Building Your Company,” April 1 at 7:30 a.m. MST.