In addition to taking some time to focus on their own commitment and goals for brand growth, Reinstein says, operators should study their financials and replicability. Opening a first unit or second unit can be a completely different process than widespread expansion into a chain of additional stores. It’s a common scenario: An entrepreneur opens a first location and is passionately involved in every step of the process. Some of the tasks that would usually be farmed out to contractors or other professionals are easily handled by the operator or an employee, decreasing expenses and increasing the hands-on involvement of operators. But she can’t devote the same one-on-one energy to additional units as her concept grows beyond her personal control, and so costs naturally increase as stores are built with less hands-on attention.
For PINCHO, building a replicable model meant streamlining processes and systems for easy construction in various cities. Othman says the PINCHO team worked to digitize any pen-and-paper processes, enable cloud-sharing for recipes and other information, and establish a brand-wide manager training process to prep for new locations. “We’ve never had to change our brand, but it has been crucial to establish the right systems and to leverage technology to help us scale our concept with consistency across all locations,” he says.
Akash Kapoor founded Curry Up Now—an Indian street food–inspired fast casual—as a food truck in San Francisco 10 years ago. Seven brick-and-mortar locations, two in-restaurant cocktail bars, and a national growth strategy later, Kapoor has units in the works in Georgia, New Jersey, Utah, and additional California markets, and he knows firsthand the commitment that widespread expansion requires.
“You have to ask yourself how much you want to travel, how big you want to get, what exactly you’re looking for,” he says. “Once you figure out if this is what you really see in the future, you can put blinders on and laser-focus on getting your brand out there.”