Taziki’s Mediterranean Café is quickly becoming a well-known restaurant chain. The casual eatery has 63 locations in 15 states in the Southeast and Midwest. The restaurant’s story often begins with Keith Richards’ trip to Greece with his wife, Amy, where they say they fell in love with the food and culture.
While it’s true that the Greek vacation served as an inspiration for the restaurant’s menu, the work necessary to operate a successful restaurant began decades before that, when 18-year-old Richards first entered the restaurant business. He went on to work in various restaurants before landing at Bottega, the restaurant of the James Beard Award-winning chef Frank Stitt, in 1988. Ten years later, Richards purchased a closed hot dog joint and transformed it into the first Taziki’s Mediterranean Café.
Richards’ business was clearly built on hard work and passion. Similarly, anyone looking to grow a franchise must love what he’s doing and be willing to put in long days and lots of effort to make it work. In addition to passion and hard work, however, there are a few additional steps that emerging franchisors should consider if they want to grow quickly and become household names:
1. Define your brand and its values.
The first key to successful growth is clear branding: determining your core values, creating brand guidelines and establishing national and local marketing plans. You also must zero in on what makes your brand different. Use all of these to craft the story of your brand across multiple channels.
Confusing brands are not successful brands. If you don’t define your brand — who you are and who you’re not — from the franchisor level, you won’t be able to expand across national and international markets.
2. Build relationships with top franchisees.
Franchisees need guidance and support, and potential franchisees look for businesses with strong leadership networks. Ask your franchisees what they’re doing locally and learn from their experiences, taking note of what works for each and what doesn’t.
Position your top franchisees as leaders and resources for your entire system. Franchisees can serve as ambassadors for your brand and provide strong leadership, serving as resources for other franchisees.
3. Look at the big picture.
If you want to rapidly expand into multiple markets, you need to consider the logistics. Do your vendors have the capacity to handle your growth? Do your vendors really understand franchises? Can they help you grow nationally and locally?
We recently spoke with an emerging fitness franchise with fewer than 25 locations. Its leaders said they wanted to operate their marketing and branding as if they had 100 locations to make sure they were on the right path as they continued to expand rapidly. We know this brand will see long-term success with that mindset. Other times, though, we’ve seen franchisors so focused on expansion that they overlook some of the gritty details of their company’s infrastructure — a recipe for trouble.
4. Think nationally and locally.
As a franchise, your goal is always growth. But that doesn’t mean your marketing focus should just be on national efforts: You should give equal weight to local campaigns, too. Determine what your national brand will handle best and what your franchisees or co-ops would be better at rolling out. As you expand, make sure both corporate and franchise locations are clear on their marketing roles and expectations.
The top complaint we hear from franchisees who pay into national ad funds is they don’t feel the impact locally. The right marketing partners can help structure the campaign to be a win-win for franchisors and franchisees, maintaining brand standards while giving franchisees some local control. Without local success, your national brand will struggle with long-term success.
For franchisors looking to become as successful as Taziki’s, success will be determined by factors ranging from the strength of a brand’s story to scalable plans to local and national marketing. The task of growing your business might be daunting, but if you keep these four steps in mind, you’ll be on the path to becoming a household name.