Five Challenges of Growing a Service Business Across Multiple Locations
- January 20, 2014
- By: Vonigo
Congratulations! You’re a successful business owner who has conquered your local market, and now you’re ready to expand. You’ve set your sites on the next territory, or even an international expansion. The excitement is palpable.
Growing a business across geography is equal parts rewarding and challenging. You can’t be everywhere your customers and employees are, while you still need to maintain the strength of the brand you worked so hard to create.
There are many challenges a service business will face as it grows across geographies. Below are a list of five of the top challenges multi-site service businesses face, and some tips on to deal with them.
1. Keeping Track of Your Customers
One of the challenges of running your business across multiple locations is the need to stay in touch with your customers. As a solo operation, or a business operating within a specific region, it’s easy to maintain lines of communication with your customers. You may even know some on a first-name basis. “Companies are coming to believe that customer data are as important as financial data,” says Ian Gordon in the Ivey Business Journal.
As your company grows, the importance of detailed customer records is even more vital. But you’re not there to personally maintain relationships. Create a customer knowledge base that will serve as an institutional memory for your teams. As remote employees become the ambassadors for your brand, the customer knowledge base you’ve created will equip them for success. Maintaining detailed customer records also allows nimble businesses to sell what customers want, not just what the firm has made, says Gordon.
2. Fostering Team Spirit
As your company expands it’s important to connect each employee with the company vision or mission statement. A job is more than a paycheck. When employees work for a multi-location business it’s important that each person within the organization understands how they contribute to the success of the whole. A sense of team spirit and camaraderie builds bonds of trust that will improve overall performance make sure that high achievers stick around for the long term.
Use the company’s intranet to share photos, work accolades and other success stories recommends Network World contributor Jeff Zbar. A little public recognition goes a long way. We crave it, and a little healthy competition can inspire everyone to reach their best performance.
Zbar also recommends the creation of a “brainpower inventory,” listing the skills, talents and hobbies of your distributed team is another way he recommends creating bonds across distances.
By connecting your new employees with your company’s mission, and ensuring that they understand your organization’s culture, you ensure that as your team grows the qualities that make your business unique increase in stride.
3. Ensuring Quality Training For All Employees
Every dollar invested in employee training is returned many times over through increased productivity, fewer mistakes and less need for supervision. The need for effective training becomes even greater when you or your core employees are not on-site to train new hires.
One way to increase the effectiveness of training as your business grows is to maintain a corporate wiki, or an online learning center, with training materials that can be accessed any time by employees of your company. An advantage of maintaining your training documents on a secure website is the ability to instantly update and share changes to company policy, new service delivery methods.
4. Proper Accounting Techniques
Success in business is all about managing dollars and cents. Accounting for cost differences across multiple locations can be a major headache. Different markets have different labor costs and varying local taxes.Throw in business locations spread across time zones and you’ve got a real logistical headache.
The right accounting software can help you tame the complexities of tracking finances across multiple locations. Track customer orders, cash flow taxes and other expenses all one place so you’re free to focus on providing excellent service to customers, and growing your brand.
5. Out of Site, Out of Mind
What you can’t see, you can’t manage. If you don’t hear about problems at remote locations, they might as well not exist. However, the longer problems go unaddressed the harder they become to solve.
Having a well-established communication protocol in place, from field teams, to managers, to senior leadership, means that as problems arise, they can be dealt with quickly and effectively.
Choose The Right Technology to Keep up with Growth
Choosing the right technology can help a growing business deal with many of the challenges that come along with scaling operations across geography. Because you can’t be everywhere your customers are, technologies that facilitate communication and collaboration with help you keep the beat of your business, no matter how fast you grow. As Inc.com writer Darren Dahl points out, cloud-based technologies now make it possible for distributed businesses to communicate and collaborate with one another without the need to install or update any new software.
Vonigo was designed from day one to help multi-site service companies successfully scale their operations across any distance. To find out how Vonigo can help your business, sign up for a free demo today.
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