Being in charge of one office is hard enough. Opening up a second one to many might seem impossible.
With that said, there are major benefits to expanding to another location. Having your team spread out gives you the opportunity to reach customers you weren't able to get to before. If your sales team needs to meet people face to face to close them, having multiple offices spread out can be a crucial aid.
But before you make the jump, you'll want to make sure you take all the options in mind and plan way beforehand. Managing multiple business locations is a very tough transition for first time CEOs, and it's easy to run into communication, culture, and finance problems.
1. Take time choosing the location
There are many important factors that need to be taken into account when choosing a new property, so start by outlining the strategic advantages of having the office in certain areas. Where are your customers? What areas can you afford to set up an office in? What kind of people will you need to hire? The people I would find in San Francisco are very different than the people I'd get in lets say South Carolina. When we opened up our second office in the south (Our headquarters are on the West Coast), we noticed a huge difference in culture. The areas we chose to place our offices in caused this.
After company culture, think about your customers. The location of your second office should bring your customers the most added value.
And finally, don't get over anxious and rush the paperwork process. I've had too many friends suffer awful lease agreements because they fell in love with an office and couldn't be patient. "Each of our locations has a different type of lease agreement, so knowing what to look for is really important," caution Zack and Vanessa Zerrilli, CEOs of SureFireCPR. They emphasize the importance of "finding the right building and making sure you know everything that your lease entails." Remember, once you've acquired a new property, the buck stops with you.
2. Be ready for the added costs
If you thought finding the new office was hard, just wait until you start managing it. As you expand to a new office, your utility, labor, and office supplies costs will skyrocket. You need to make sure the added business your brining in is worth the expense.
"I wish I had known how much time would be spent dealing with facility management when opening multiple locations," says Brennan McLaughlin, Executive Director of San Diego Virtual Schools. This is a common occurrence many entrepreneurs don't think about when they decide to open up multiple offices. It's not just the cost of revenue you incur, it's also the cost of your time.
3. Don't try to do the whole process yourself.
As entrepreneurs, we always want to do everything ourselves. When it comes to making sure all the loose ends are tied, this is a perfect situation where we should delegate to a professional to make sure everything is done right.
"Navigating the commercial real estate market can be a very frustrating task, so it's very important to have someone you trust running point on your transactions as you acquire more space," says Larry Miller, CEO of SitNSleep. "Looking back, I wish I'd have leaned more heavily on competent experts and not tried to do so much myself."
"You have to get creative", says Prerak Patel, CEO of MightusMedia. And most of the market entrepreneurs know very well how difficult is to start something without the know-how.
The process of expanding offices can drain a lot of energy and cause a lot of unneeded stress. You have plenty to worry about in your business, delegate the heavy lifting to a professional and move on.
4. Break into the new ecosystem
One of the things I admire most about Tony Hsieh from Zappos is his focus on giving back to Las Vegas. When Zappos opened up its new headquarters, Hsieh had a dream to build a college like campus for Zappos employees. He's done just that and given tons of people in the Vegas community job opportunities, and even funding for new ventures. This is a great example for you to follow as you open up an office in a new ecosystem. Work on making the community better, and your business and employees will thrive.
Gary Lopez, marketing executive of Urgent Care Extra, says this point can't be overstated: "When we opened our first clinics we were not as focused on this aspect and soon realized how important it was."
The companies I've seen do the best at expanding put a strong focus on helping residents of their new office cities. By giving to the people that live around our office, we can quickly make our companies ingrained in the culture and ecosystem. This breeds happy employees, and happy employees means overall better business.