Opening a New Franchise Restaurant with Barrel House

December 2022

After our most recent franchise’s opening in Bloomington, IL, we thought now would be a great time to discuss the process for becoming a Barrel House franchise partner, and what our support for owners looks like! 

When opening a new franchise restaurant, a good partnership is the cornerstone of success. We’re committed to supporting our franchise partners through every step of the process, and we know that new partners are always looking for more information about the parent company they may want to work with.

In this post, we’ll walk you step-by-step through the process of opening a Barrel House franchise, from the first phonecall to ongoing support for our successful partner restaurants. If you have any questions at all, we’re always happy to tell you more about what makes Barrel House a beloved member of so many communities across the Midwest.

Finding the Right Franchise Partner

Typically, our conversations with franchise partners start with a simple phone call. Potential franchise owners want to know more about us – our team, our plans, and the support we offer our partners. Likewise, we want to know more about them! When looking for new franchise partners, we’re always seeking someone who can work well with our existing team, and wants to grow a business that matches our brand: one focused on We Care™ culture. Our founder, Jimmy Holt, is a previous franchise owner himself, and our franchise model is built around expertise for both ‘sides’ of the business – that’s part of what led us to franchise out the Barrel House concept in the first place.

With Barrel House, we aim to provide that bar-down-the-street atmosphere, but with kicked-up food. Every Barrel House is a place where people want to come and hang out, watch the game, bring the kids, or have a party with friends and enjoy a night out. Too many places either have good food but no atmosphere, or terrible food but a great atmosphere. We looked to bridge that gap and made a spot where people look forward to coming back for the next special, event, or promotion that is going on. If that sounds like the kind of business you’d like to be involved in, you might just be our next franchise partner – so give us a call!

Building a New Franchise Restaurant

While we have several ‘turnkey’ restaurant locations available, for most franchise partners, site selection and buildout of the restaurant facilities are the next steps. We have a variety of Key Performance Indicators that we consider for restaurant locations, including traffic counts, median home values, incomes, proximity to shopping centers, or event centers, and so on. But we also love the local knowledge our partners bring to the table. New restaurant owners and their real estate agents have a deep knowledge of the local community that helps make site selection a team effort – between our experience building out restaurants and local knowledge, we’re sure to find a great location.

Even as the pandemic and resulting economic changes have affected the construction industry, we’ve found that Barrel House restaurants come together fairly quickly. Right now, we experience some longer-than-usual wait times for equipment, but those items are secured so early in the 6-9 month process, that they still arrive right on time.

Franchise restaurant construction and sales are both on the rise for a reason. People are eager to return to restaurants, eat with friends and family, and try something new. That’s why 2023 is a great time to start your restaurant franchise – across the country, the market is seeking exactly what Barrel House has to offer.

Training for Restaurant Franchise Owners

Here at Barrel House, We Care™ culture is the foundation of what we do – but there’s so much more that goes in to running a newly-opened restaurant. That’s why we provide all our franchise partners with comprehensive training, starting during buildout, to ensure our partners are well-prepared for the reality of running a Barrel House.

Typically, we’ll invite three members of a new Barrel House team to our corporate headquarters, where they’ll have five days to train in a corporate store and classroom with the broader Barrel House team. This is a great chance for us to spend time with our new partners, get to know the team, and build a strong foundation of support for future success. 

From there, we offer online training twice a week for the next few weeks, ensuring new staff members are fully trained on the software necessary to keep Barrel House running smoothly. 

Then, on week five of training, our corporate trainers will come to the new location, helping to train staff and optimize processes within the new restaurant itself. This hands-on, on-location training serves as a ‘dry run’ for staff, and ensures there’s someone with plenty of experience around to answer the inevitable questions as they arise. 

Our goal is for the newest Barrel House, and its full team, to feel comfortable and well-prepared for opening in their community.

Our combination of classroom, digital, and hands-on training makes Barrel House’s franchise support systems uniquely comprehensive. By training throughout the buildout process and fully integrating staff – from ownership, to management, to front- and back-of-house team members – in the training process, we help engrain our We Care™ culture in Barrel House teams from the start. 

Ongoing Training at Barrel House 

Training doesn’t end when the new Barrel House opens its doors! We offer franchise general managers weekly calls with our Director of Operations. Sometimes, these calls are 10-minute check-ins. Other times, they may be 2-hour long strategy sessions. 

Whatever our partners’ needs, we want to be sure they’re well-supported. This allows our partners to go over the previous week, plan for the next week, and work through any issues that may have arisen.

In addition to weekly calls, we provide regular technology updates to Barrel House locations. Sometimes, this comes in the form of new technologies, which are always introduced after plenty of proper training has taken place. But we don’t want to needlessly complicate operations – so more often, these updates take the form of additional features to existing tools. 

Technology at Barrel House

We have an entire article on Barrel House’s use of technology! We’ve carefully analyzed the tools available, and selected the ones we know will make life better and easier for franchise owners and Barrel House guests alike! 

For owners and staff, technology can streamline inventory, purchasing, and more. Our Point of Sale systems link seamlessly with inventory control and management, helping owners to stay on top of what’s needed, place orders with confidence, and optimize prices and substitutions without extra effort. We use connected online ordering, waitstaff handhelds, and digital kitchen boards to reduce wait times and errors for tickets. 

These innovations are all-but-invisible to guests, but for staff, they switch the focus from running tickets and checking typos to providing a great guest experience – and that’s something your visitors will definitely notice.

What guests see right away are the ways we integrate technology into their dining experience. Ordering is easier than ever, with online ordering and QR codes. Some locations dazzle guests (and save waitstaff time) with robot waiters, which help deliver food to tables. 

We’re committed to bringing the fun, with music from jukeboxes, live music, and music bingo – all of which draw in the crowds, and require the kind of dedicated sound system that our buildouts provide. 

Guests also love our Barrel House app, which provides automated rewards for their visits. However, the Barrel House app isn’t just easy for guests – it gives us great insight into who our guests are, when and why they visit, and what they’re looking for, so we can offer them the best experience possible.

Marketing Support for Franchise Restaurants

The Barrel House app is just one aspect of our marketing efforts. It allows us to target guests with specials and encourage them to return, and is a great source of information on what we can do to provide a next-level experience for everyone who visits Barrel House.

But Barrel House app users tend to be a location’s most dedicated guests, so marketing goes beyond encouraging them to return. We focus on brand awareness and consistency, especially for restaurants in new markets! This approach is especially helpful when introducing Barrel House to a new market. 

One thing that reliably brings new guests through the door is a healthy schedule of specials and events. In addition to regular social media coverage, we also promote football specials, late-night specials, and featured items to help attract new crowds.

But marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. That’s why Barrel House’s marketing team works with each franchise team to tailor advertising to their location! In addition to brand-wide promotions and deals, each location has its own group of specials, as well as events like live music from local bands, to promote, all in an effort to connect each Barrel House location to its home community.