Most brick and mortar stores that occupy physical retail space are launched with the intention of opening further locations in the future. After all, this is the natural progression of any business that is returning reliable profits. More locations mean more exposure, more customers, and more success.
However, while opening more locations should ultimately be good for your business, if you don’t approach it in the right way it can be an expensive mistake. Before you commit yourself to any expansion plans, you should make sure that you have carefully thought them through. Thorough planning will give you your best chance of pulling your expansion off without a hitch.
Here is everything you need to know before you embark upon the expansion itself. Don’t put a dollar down for it until you are certain of what you are doing and how you will do it.
Is it the Right Move?
Opening more branches of a successful business makes perfect sense from the perspective of an entrepreneur; it feels like the right and natural thing to do. But this is not always the case. In fact, some businesses will be better served by taking an alternate approach to growing and expanding.
For example, some businesses will be better off focusing on their website and online offerings instead of opening more physical retail space. When you consider the costs involved in both options, you might even decide that it’s worth holding off on your expansion until you have improved your website.
Whether you do more trade online or offline will depend on the type of business you operate and how you operate it. The volume and value of your online and offline trade is not the only factor you need to consider, but it is one of the most important. Remember, if you open a new location too quickly, it will rapidly become little more than a constant drain on your available finances.
Evaluate the Market
Before you commit yourself too heavily to a particular course of action, you should take the time to ensure that the market you are entering is both healthy and reliable. A marketplace that is stagnating isn’t going to make fertile ground for growing your business. Conversely, a marketplace currently oversaturated with businesses like yours might not have enough to go around, meaning that latecomers will be disadvantaged.
Your business might be doing very well in a particular location, but it could also be the case that if it were located just a short distance away it would be in serious difficulty. That is to say, just because you are doing well in one location, don’t assume that you can simply transplant the business somewhere else and be done with it.
Evaluate Your Location
Wherever you are thinking of opening your second location, it will likely be somewhere quite different to where your flagship store is located. It is important that you take the time to scout out the new area you will are moving to, partly so you can make sure it’s suitable for your business, but also ensure that it’s suitable for you.
If you don’t have much enthusiasm or confidence in your move, you are more likely to struggle to pull it off. As well as understanding the local market conditions, you should also take the time to familiarize yourself with local laws, rules, and regulations. Never assume that everything that was possible at your old location is possible here, make sure to check first.
If you are expanding into a new state or territory, you may well need some help to ensure that you stay on the right side of the law and regulators. For example, if you are expanding your business from mainland US to Hawaii, check out Klein Lg, a local law firm who can help you navigate Hawaii state regulations. Click the link to learn more.
Record Your Processes
Opening a new location means that you will need to train up a new team of staff to operate it. This will be much easier to do if you already have clearly established procedures for workers to follow. You might find that it is worth putting together your own training manual for employees to utilize. During your first move, compiling such a manual might be a little difficult and time-consuming. However, once you have a reliable training manual in place, your job becomes much easier in the future.
Whether this is your first expansion or the latest in a long line, it is a good idea to keep notes of how the process is going. What you try and don’t try, what works and doesn’t work, anything that is going to be useful for you to know when opening new locations in the future is worth keeping a record of. We often learn best when we are learning from our mistakes, so don’t worry if you have teething problems when working out how to open a new branch; use them as learning opportunities.
Find the Right Staff
When you are opening your first new location, it can often help to have some reliable staff members on hand who you know you can count on during a crisis. If feasible, you might want to consider whether it’s worth sending one of your long-term employees to help launch the new store and ensure that the staff there are following the same processes and procedures as those in your original store.
This kind of continuity and standardization across your business has a lot of benefits to it. First and foremost, you will be able to move staff around your business without having to worry about them being re-trained or re-oriented.
Opening a new location is an important rite of passage for many businesses. Opening a new location proves to the world that you have been successful and shows that you mean to continue that success. However, always be aware that if you go about it in a rushed and careless manner, opening a new location can end up sinking an otherwise healthy business.