3 Ways to Generate Big Business in a Small Market
3 Ways to Generate Big Business in a Small Market

How these franchisors and franchisees have found success in suburban areas

The retail and restaurant climates are getting increasingly more competitive – with new concepts coming into the market, challenges finding and maintaining top talent and a surge in both the price of real estate and the cost of goods. It takes creativity and a strategic growth strategy to survive.

But this environment can become even more challenging in a small market, where competition from local businesses might be lower, but so is the population. So how do you target the limited number of consumers in a small market to help your business grow? 1851 connected with franchisees and corporate development representatives that have found ways to create an impactful business no matter the market size.

1. Understand the target demographics of your brand and your city.

Checkers & Rally’s currently has a presence in 37 states across the country, and while the majority of these locations are within larger metropolitan areas, the brand has also found success growing in smaller suburbs based on the preference of franchisees.

“The markets that our franchisees choose are often within their hometowns - areas where they have family and friends or where they currently work,” said Bruce Kim, Checkers & Rally’s Director of Franchise Development. “While we ultimately want to be in a metropolitan market, we understand the needs and desires of our franchisees and work with them to determine the most successful location possible.”

In order to help zero in on a market, the brand uses an industry tool called Buxton to analyze the success of a site based on demographics, income and economic conditions.

“When we analyze the success of market entry, we look for the presence of other QSR restaurants,” said Kim. “If there are none in the area, we have to ask ourselves, why not? Is this a major growth opportunity or do people in the area prefer to eat in rather than out? On the opposite side of the spectrum, if there are a lot of QSR restaurants in the area, we wonder if we can compete by being a value player.”

The Nashville DMA is an example of an area where Checkers has started targeting suburban development.

“The Nashville economy is booming and has proven to be a great growth opportunity for our brand,” according to Kim. “We’ve recently opened locations in Smyrna and Laverne, which are smaller cities on the outskirts of Nashville. They’ve been doing really well because the demographics are a good fit for our brand and we’re well known in the market.”

Utilizing a similar approach, Checkers & Rally’s is now looking at growing throughout Dallas, Chicago, Milwaukee, Columbus, Houston, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, targeting smaller suburban areas along with their metropolitan development.

2. Become active in your community.

Hitting the pavement is always a viable way to get your name out in the community, and few people know this better than GYMGUYZ franchisee Debbie Morikawa. Morikawa recently opened the brand’s first Hawaii location in Honolulu – the capital city of the island state with a fairly large population but limited growth potential. In order to improve brand recognition to find success in the market, Morikawa became the face of the franchise on Oahu.

Utilizing connections from previous jobs, self-promoting with local businesses and finding partnership opportunities, Morikawa has already built a base of loyal clients since opening in the fall.

New concepts in smaller markets can find similar ways to differentiate themselves from the competition by sponsoring local events, getting involved with a charitable campaign or joining the local Chamber of Commerce. The more people that see the brand name and associate your face with the business, the better opportunity you have at gaining new customers.

3. Find new revenue streams by expanding your market.

FSC Franchise Co., the parent company of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and The Brass Tap, launched a partnership with UberEats earlier this year and one of the first locations to jump on board was the Cooper City, Florida Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, a Fort Lauderdale suburb with a population of about 35,000 residents.

Owner Brent Ginsburg recognized the shift from sit down to delivery in the casual dining industry and volunteered to be a test location.

“Consumers today expect us to have clean facilities, good food and great customer service,” said Ginsburg. “Our hope through the launch of UberEats was that we would do a good job with the food and that the drivers would do a good job with delivery. If everything ran smoothly, then we thought we’d be able to gain new customers outside of those within a one to two-mile radius.”

Since launching UberEats just six months ago, Ginsburg noticed immediate results. Not only has he reached new customers, but delivery sales have added an extra day of revenue to the restaurants forecast almost every week.

By adding new services to expand beyond your small market, it may help you gain more clients and ultimately make more money.