Top tips for growing your retail or leisure business

Insight from two successful entrepreneurs

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Building a brand in the increasingly competitive retail and leisure market can be a daunting challenge, with many small independents falling by the wayside once it comes to expansion.

There are countless exciting concepts that have successfully built up loyal customers at one or two sites, but unfortunately stalled once it comes to expanding, or in worst case scenarios, folded. At Bruntwood Works we want to help great concepts grow to become successful names on the high street.

In June 2019 we hosted an event with Enterprise Nation, the most active small business network in the UK, looking at the challenges around building a successful restaurant venture. Two successful entrepreneurs; Carl Morris, co-founder of popular restaurant chain Yard & Coop and Jonathan Poole, co-owner of Red & Blue Restaurants, the company behind Bacaro, Salt House Tapas and Hanover Street Social in Liverpool, gave us a fascinating insight into their journeys.

Jonathan and Carl spoke about how they started out, attracting customers and creating brand loyalty...and how they're beating the odds to make a success of building popular restaurants on the High Street.

Here are some key learnings from Jonthan and Carl...

1: Find your passion and be bold in your approach
If you’re working on something that you are personally passionate about, you are more likely to reach your goal. This will undoubtedly mean you need to take risks - but don’t shy away from this.

2: Know what you want to achieve and have a strong business plan.
If you set out with the premise to create a brand with national aspirations from the beginning, you won’t get to be comfy in just one shop or restaurant. Having a business plan and sticking to it will lead to ultimately making a profit and achieving your goals.

3: Think about your growth plan.
If you’re launching a new venture with aspirations to grow, decide how quickly you want to do this and what that means for your business. Do you want to grow from day one for example? If you do, this means you need to plough any initial profit back into growth from day one.

4: Test your concept, and be willing to adapt.
When it comes to launching a new venture, pop-ups can be a great test bed for products and getting the right teams on board. Carl shared the experience Yard and Coop had with a pop-up in Leeds. They always knew their end goal was be in bricks and mortar, but they wanted to get to know the market. They took a year long pop-up, meaning that when the time came to make the move into a restaurant they had an existing team in place from day one and were serving perfect food from the start. The pop-up also meant they’d built up a following in Leeds and had sold 25,000 dishes before opening their permanent home.

5: Evolve to survive.
Keep on looking at how to make things better and improve your offer and customer experience. This is something that some of the larger brands have taken their eye off and have suffered as a result.

6: People are at the heart of everything.
Want a loyal customer base? Then listen to your customers and make them happy. Hire people who want to work for you and your brand, not someone just to fill your empty role. They’re the face of your brand and key to customer experience.

7: Be part of a thriving environment.
Innovation can come from anywhere...it could be communication with customers, your team, or other areas of business. This is where a thriving environment for your business is vital; like-minded neighbours and a landlord that’s open to new ideas and concepts can only add to your success. Johnny highlighted that on today's market landlords are very keen to get independents in their buildings, supporting the cooler concepts.

At Bruntwood our aim is to create the right environments for entrepreneurs and established businesses to work and thrive alongside each other.

We have a range of retails spaces and units which can help you to realise your goals across Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Birmingham including Hatch and Afflecks in Manchester city centre. So if you’re thinking of launching a new concept or are ready to grow, we’d love to hear from you.

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