Ferris Bueller, Daniel Holzman, and why you should grow your restaurant half as fast as you think you need to…

Ferris Beuller is famous for this quote: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Daniel Holzman, co-owner of The Meatball Shop in NYC, said something similar in his interview for our Restaurant Owners Uncorked video series….

“When you’re moving forward it seems like you’re crawling at a snails pace. Everything seems like it’s moving too slow. And from the outside there’s all of this pressure to open more restaurants and strike while the iron is hot. But from the inside, looking back, we feel like we’re moving so quickly. Almost too quickly! If you would have asked us a year ago we’d say we should have five restaurants by now. But looking back on it we realize that we’ve only been open two years and we already have three restaurants. When you grow quickly there are a bunch of things you’re not going to realize have fallen through the cracks until they fall through the cracks, and the only way you can minimize those mistakes is by moving a little bit more slowly than you would feel comfortable with. So however fast you think you can move, if you cut it in half you have a better chance of catching things before they are out of control.”

I love that advice. It’s so easy to be too focused on growing fast. And faster. And even faster!!! Better to slow down. Be patient. Get it right before you worry about growing. You may think you’re missing opportunities, but what you’re really doing is building your business on a strong foundation. It’s not fragile. It’s prepared for the stressors that every growing business must endure.

But I’ll be honest, there were times when I wanted Schedulefly to grow faster. I didn’t want to hit 2,500 customers in 2012. I wanted to hit that many in 2010. Or sooner! But the reality is that if we had done that, we would have been unprepared to handle the volume. We would let things fall through the cracks. Service would have suffered. Problems would have arisen. So while we may have gotten to some arbitrary number of customers faster, our most important asset – our reputation – would have suffered. And I can almost guarantee that five years from now, we would have wound up with fewer customers than we will have if we keep growing at a pace we are prepared to handle.

If you combine what Ferris and Daniel said, it might go like this: “Life and business both move pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss life. And ruin your business.”


If you like this post, you might also like The tortoise, the hare, and why I’m glad we’ve grown (relatively) slowly.