Photo by Alisa Ferris
Many brick-and-mortar companies dream about having multiple locations. More storefronts mean the ability to service more clients and, as a result, increase your bottom line and expand your brand recognition. It can be the first step to a transformative chapter, but as with any progress, there can be growing pains associated with this move.
There are a number of considerations to keep in mind before deciding if expansion is right for you and if so, you must be prepared for the challenges that come with juggling the logistics of multiple business locations.
Let’s dive into some of the obstacles that you may face, as well as how to persevere in the face of such issues.
Fear of the Unknown
This is one of the most common reasons that businesses don’t expand — the team simply doesn’t know what to expect and fear risking the growth they have already experienced in their current storefront.
However, with proper research, you can cross out some of those concerns and put yourself in a better position to succeed with expansion. Start by getting a clear understanding of where you’d like to open a new location — is it in the same region or across the country? Either way, you need to get a feel for what the consumers are like and how they differ from the people who frequent your existing store. Are there language barriers? Differing price expectations? Understand your target market before you make any serious investments.
You can also be proactive from a financial standpoint by learning about all of the new expenses you’ll take on in this move. Prepare to increase your costs. You will be paying two rents, additional staff salaries, training costs, and new inventory. You may also need to increase funding for advertising, technology implementation, and other costs that you incurred when opening and marketing your current storefront.
For many business owners, opening a new storefront presents a common challenge: delegating (and trusting) other people to run something you built from the ground up. Sure, you may have done this on a micro level for things like social media or sales calls within your current store. Having multiple locations, however, means entrusting all business operations to a whole other team. After all, you can’t be in two places at once and trying to keep track of every detail in every store is unrealistic.
This issue is solved with a careful hiring process and all-in-one software.
On the hiring front, you want to focus on building a team of individuals who thrive as independent workers. You need to be fully confident that the leaders of this new team can replicate your successful model. Don’t be afraid to take extra time to find the right candidates — rushing the interview process is never a good idea but holds far extra risk when looking to a hire a team you may not be directly overseeing.
With savvy, cloud-based software, you not only ensure that processes are easy to follow, you also ensure accountability. A program like Goodshuffle Pro will allow you to see exactly who does what and when, which means that you can entrust more responsibility in your team, resting assured that every action is being tracked.
New spaces, new challenges
With any new property, you will need to be prepared to figure out how things work best in that space. Something that may have worked in your original location may not fit quite as effectively. As a rental company, we had to figure out how to sell our full inventory between two showrooms. We couldn’t just double everything in our inventory, so we kept part of it at our satellite location and did our best to anticipate demand so we could move certain items to meet a client’s needs.
At the end of the day, we had to learn and accept that we’ll never have enough available to satisfy every request immediately. With that, we decided that we needed to provide a delivery option that would make all of our pieces more accessible to any client no matter where they were. The point is that you will likely face challenges that seem insurmountable. Don’t give up and, instead, try to look for creative solutions that will create a better client experience for all.
We’ve also found that technology has played a crucial role in juggling the demands at both locations. It has helped us stay on top of team training, weekly meetings, and communications about inventory and specific client accounts. Technology has helped us to implement streamlined procedures that keep everyone on the same page, no matter where we are.
Expanding a business to open up more storefronts is a major decision that can present a lot of obstacles. However, if handled strategically, it can be a move that holds a lot of future potential and can open up new opportunities for your business. Don’t rush into anything without a game plan — if you commit to being proactive, your decision to expand will be one that pays out for years to come.
Heather Rouffe is the Director of Sales and Partner of Atlas Event Rental, a full-service event rental industry serving the Southern Florida market for over 30 years based. Recently named one of the top 30 rental companies in the US by Special Events Magazine, Atlas provides top quality merchandise and unparalleled customer service to each and every customer.