Plan Well Before Adding Second Branch

Productivity, employees, and clients will all face adjustment period.

Most successful businesses are eventually presented with the opportunity or the need to expand.

Opening your second location can be an exciting, financially and emotionally rewarding experience if done right. If done wrong, it can be painful and expensive … and, in some cases, fatal to your business.

Recognizing the changes you’re about to make and thinking about how they’re going to affect your workers, customers and suppliers is the first step.

Staff — Because you’re already successful, your staff has probably been with you for years and knows how you operate. They’re part of a team that knows what needs to be done and how to prioritize.

If you transfer people from your first location, you’ll have the advantage of having established and knowledgeable people in both locations. However, this creates some degree of disruption at your primary location as well.

Additionally, your original staff might not know how to develop a new team of employees to duplicate their efforts at the original location. Asking them to train and mentor new employees while continuing to perform their regular duties will affect the quality and volume of the work they do.

If you bring in a new crew for your new location, it’s going to take a substantial portion of your time to instill that same sense of awareness there.

Unless you have extremely strong leadership that can backfill for you, wherever you can’t be is going to suffer. Because new people will require additional support while they get oriented, and your existing staff will be spread thin, you will need to hire more workers at the two locations than you otherwise might.

Customers — One of the mistakes leaders make when opening a new location is assuming things there will work the same way they do at the first location.

It’s possible you’re expanding because customers said a new location would meet their needs better. The moment you open that new location, customers will expect it to operate the same way as the original.

This will change the dynamic of both locations. Hiccups that arise at the new location —­ whether they be in telephone support, problem resolution, technical issues or inventory — will reflect on the existing location. Centralizing these functions as best you can may help. However, consolidating those things will require a greater degree of sophistication and control, which means more staff and more training.

Making it work — Your vendors can be a key in the success or failure of your new location. Their ability to support the needs of your second site can reduce or eliminate overhead, and their experience can be invaluable when looking for ways to attract and support existing customers who may have concerns about the changes.

A final word of caution: Don’t hire friends or family to help with your launch. You’re not only asking for trouble, you’re investing in creating it.

Family’s availability and willingness to help may be tempting, there is no reason for you to take that shortcut instead of hiring qualified staff. Go through a formal hiring process, involving existing staff.

If you take your time, think through all the nuances of opening your second location, you’ll have the opportunity to anticipate and prepare.


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