100 new units a year? 30 percent growth? No problem. From site modeling to sourcing chairs, these chains have rapid expansion down pat.

Restaurant companies prepared to grow quickly typically have a pipeline that extends far into the future. Yet the success of their unit openings — whether franchised or company restaurants — depends on more than an impressive inventory. Experts say that company officials must also have a clear and comprehensive real estate strategy as well as the means to communicate it to franchisees, real estate brokers, general contractors and their own field personnel. "That's where really good site modeling comes into play," says Andy Simpson, a veteran development and design executive who now consults for Results Thru Strategy. "Companies good at site selection spend a lot of time developing it."

Site selection is, of course, just the tip of the fast-growth iceberg. Being adept at navigating the permitting process, keeping franchisees on track during the construction process, and ensuring that vendors come through with critical pre-opening supplies are also critical to ensuring speedy build-outs.

To learn more about the site modeling, real estate strategies and other tricks of companies on the fast track, rd+d talked with managers and executives from frozen yogurt chain Orange Leaf, Dickey's Barbecue Pit and Firebirds Wood Fired Grill — three operations that grew units by at least 30 percent in 2013, earning each a spot on Technomic Inc.'s "Fast 50 Growth Chains" list.

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