How Do We Know When to Grow?

We've had a bit of a busy couple of weeks around here in the A. Marshall world. I suppose I could make that statement nearly every week, and really who isn't busy these days? But we did make a pretty big announcement last week...  

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In case you missed it, we opened two restaurants this past year (Puckett's Chattanooga and Homestead Manor). We really truly did not have any plans to pursue another adventure this quickly. So "WHY??" you might ask. Why indeed. Let's talk about it.

We ask three primary questions when we are analyzing a new market for an existing brand or a new concept altogether. The caveat is that the answer has to be a YES to all three questions.

1. Is it the right place?

This is usually the first question. We get several emails and calls a month (sometimes a week) with the latest and greatest next location.  Location can be quite the temptress. A gorgeous building with exposed brick, or a diamond in the ruff waiting to be polished can be hard to say no to, especially if you are a creative visionary like my Dad. And given the market today, one can quickly feel pressure to jump on a great spot before someone else snatches it up.

Fortunately he has party poopers like me around to ask the other questions.

2. Is it the right time?

This can sometimes be the hardest one. When is it ever really the right time? It's like trying to decide when the right time is to have another kid (please don't ask me that question). You can easily find excuses to say no forever. Too busy, market is too crowded, the economy is too volatile. These are all things to consider. But also consider that we opened Puckett's in Downtown Nashville in 2010, the during the valley of the recession. Within 6 months, it hit our sales projections for year three. Now it is our sales leader and continues to smash records and expectations every year. A lot of this is due the international wave of attention that Nashville has received the last few years. We like to be just ahead of those kinds of waves whenever possible. This can be risky, but can definitely be worth the gamble in the long run.

3. Do we have the right people?

This is the most important question. When asked when we will stop opening new restaurants, Dad's favorite response is "when we no longer have good people to grow with us." Each location means hiring new talent both on the staff level and management level. But I feel like I can safely say that we will never open a new restaurant without at least one key person that we have already developed within our own system. Our people are vital to maintaining our identity and culture. More importantly than that though is that it is our greatest joy to provide opportunities for our team members to grow and be successful in their own rite.

So... what about Westhaven? Is it the right place? Definitely. It's a gorgeous community, the architecture is beautiful, it has a great patio, and a quintessential Tennessee view of rolling green hills. Is it the right time? It certainly is for the Westhaven community. They have been through their share of excitement and disappointment as restaurant announcements have come and gone. For us, it does come on the heels of a pretty aggressive growth spurt these past few months. Perhaps the answer to this one could be considered questionable, but I think it hinges on the next. Do we have the right people? Yes. We are overflowing with talent and it's time to give them more opportunities.

More updates to come!


xx Claire

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