It seems great – your business is so profitable that you can afford to bring on new employees and build brand new locations. This is what every small business owner dreams of; the freedom to run several franchises all at the same time, being able to multiply the number of customers that they can reach at each place exponentially. Managing multiple locations is also a part of that dream.
The only problem here is that these several locations pose a logistical problem: You can’t possibly be in two (or more) places at the same time. While there are options like email and video chat, nothing can be a substitute for real, in-person management.
What happens? You begin to stretch yourself thinner and thinner until it seems as if you’re not giving any of your locations the attention they deserve.
While managing multiple locations is a definite challenge, it’s not an impossible task.
However, there will to be problems that you are going to face. The good news is that none of them are impossible to overcome.
Let’s take a look at some of the key problems that managers of multiple locations face and what they can do to solve them and continue to prosper.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
This is one of the more pernicious ways that you can shoot yourself in the foot when you’re running several locations. It’s easy to focus on the problems of the site you’re at while forgetting entirely about other locations that you own or manage.
Let’s say you run a retail shop that has many locations. You want to make sure that every shop is taken care of and that each location is given the time and attention that it needs and deserves. You can only delegate so much; the optimal thing for you to do is to visit each location periodically (as long as the distance between them isn’t too great) and to personally audit everything at the business to make sure it’s up to your standards.
This might be hard to fit into your schedule, but think of it like a time clock that an employee of yours would use to check into work. Your attendance is just as necessary as anyone clocking in for a shift. Getting to visit every location eventually becomes a matter of better scheduling for you, personally. So why not schedule specific days for visiting each location.
Obviously, some locations will need more attention than others, which is perfectly fine. You can adjust your schedule accordingly to tend to the newer locations more if your original location seems to be running smoothly enough to where you don’t have to invest as much effort into running it.
If your original location is running fine and they don’t need you to come in every week, then don’t do it. There’s no need to spread yourself thin with unnecessary journeys to locations that are running like a well-oiled machine even when you’re not around. Just make sure that you are not abandoning your original location in order to focus on the newer one – make time on your schedule for all of them as needed.
You’re going to have to figure out a way to streamline and improve your communication if you want to be able to communicate effectively with multiple work locations. According to a survey performed by Manager Complete, 70 percent of small and mid-sized business claim that poor communication is their biggest problem.
One of the biggest problems with running more than one location is having to reiterate the same ideas on several occasions. Some of these problems can be solved by creating guides and various onboarding and training material that every employee at every location is going to have equal access to at all times.
By creating documents that explain your company goals, your business rules, attendance rules, vacation rules, and just about any type of other business procedure you can think of, you are saving a lot of time that you would otherwise be wasting on sending dozens of emails and making unnecessary trips to explain rules and procedures to everyone at every location independently.
If you are using Humanity to manage multiple locations, you can use our Training module to provide everyone on your team with easy access to onboarding programs, training guides, rule books and just about any other type of procedural information. Not only that, you can also keep track of who has completed these training tasks and who hasn’t without ever having to leave your office.
Lack of Leaders
It’s in times like these when you have decided to expand your operation, that employees could use a mentor in order to fully grasp the nature of their jobs and how to perform them more effectively. The problem is that when you don’t have someone there to do this, it can be extremely inefficient to try and be a leader and mentor to everyone at every one of your locations.
One of the best ways to deal with this problem is to delegate. If you can get someone in the company that you trust and who has the knowledge necessary to mentor the employees in need, then, by all means, send them over. This way, you can stick to what needs to be taken care of at the managerial level while your trusted, experienced employees are handling the everyday tasks of getting new employees on the same page and making sure that the transitions that come with opening up new locations are being handled properly.
While you were planning an expansion, you should have already been looking for your employees at your first location and trying to evaluate which team members could be ready to take on managerial roles in other locations. It’s always better to hire and promote from within than it is to seek out new leadership from outside of your company. Breeding leaders within is not only much cheaper, but studies have shown that managers who have been promoted from within the company are almost always more effective than people who have been hired from outside sources.
Lack of Cohesiveness
When you run multiple branches, there is a very real possibility that some type of unhealthy competition will begin to breed between one location and the other. It’s incredibly important to nip that “us vs. them” mentality in the bud before problems begin to arise and escalate.
It’s a common problem. Team members simply don’t know each other, and if you are not doing a good job of uniting your teams, you’re going to have to put out a lot of fires. This is a problem of company culture, first and foremost. As a manager, you need to make sure that everyone knows that there is no competition between locations. Everyone either fails or prospers together.
One way to kick this common problem to the curb is to set up regular meetings between the various teams and make it so that they can discuss among themselves what the best steps would be for the business. They can all inform each other of what’s going on in each location, share goals and achievements, and give each other tips and advice. You can even have company outings where team building exercises are used to develop a sense of camaraderie between all locations.