Having your own shop has its difficulties. Having two creates challenges. The expansion from one location to two sets a foundation for the growth of your business for years to come. There are certain trials that a multi-location business owner needs to overcome in order to have the company as a whole thrive in its industry.
Standing behind the counter at your own shop makes marketing easy. You are your brand. When customers see your face, you transmit a message that is 100 percent your marketing communication. Unfortunately, you cannot be in two places at once, so the multi-location business owner needs to figure out the integrated marketing message, write it down and teach every employee how to communicate it. A good way to integrate your marketing message is through a strong social media presence. Have each of your stores drive customers to your website where you can still control the marketing communication.
When the Cat’s Away…
Employee theft is the leading source of inventory loss in the United States, even greater than shoplifters. Without an authority figure to rein it in, it can become a free-for-all. Security cameras are a good deterrent. Make sure that they are IP enabled so that you can access them from anywhere. Place them so that they see the entire store and do not skimp on coverage because blind spots are the first place to be victimized. Let everyone know that they are there to catch shoplifters and dishonest employees.
Creating a team with people who have never met can be challenging. National restaurant chain Red Robin uses an internal social media platform called Yammer to facilitate communication between like-minded staff. In one of their testimonies, Red Robin recalls when several of their chefs collaborated via Yammer to refine their sauce recipes. Using the system, they accomplished in eight weeks what would have taken six months, and none of the people ever met in person.
Like team building, training over large distances can be an issue. Use an off-site hosted training platform so that your preparation is automated and accessible from anywhere with Internet access. Since you are now managing several locations, anything that you can set and then walk away is a benefit to you. It will take you some time and effort to create the information, but it will be worth it in the end. You may want to hire a content writer for that part. As for platforms, Capterra has a list of some of the best training systems out there.
Expanding your business to have multiple locations can rapidly become a human resources nightmare. Unless you love spending hours filling out paperwork and tracking down employee documents, outsource this function.
Depending on the product that you offer, inventory management can become difficult. If you stock each store fully, you risk increasing your stale product for every location that you stock. If you also have an e-commerce presence — and you should have an e-commerce presence — then you will have inventory associated with that. Use a point-of-sales system that also has an inventory management so that you only have one central inventory to control.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations. We are the trusted advisor to those seeking forward-thinking operational and strategic solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth.
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