Tips for multi-location business management

So, your first business location is a success; you’ve made your mum proud, and your customers love you. You’re happy where you are, content, in fact – but where’s the fun in that? Next on the agenda: expand and conquer the world.

It’s only natural that, as a successful small business owner, you’d want to diversify your reach. But there are a few things to consider before taking the leap. One of the most important things to think about is managing your money and transactions at multiple locations, which is what we’re best at. But, before we come to that, let’s get practical.

We’ve set out to assist you and guide you along the exciting path of managing a multi-location business.

Expanding your business – things to consider

Before jumping straight in with the red ribbon, as exciting as the prospect might be, there are a few things to consider before expanding your business to a second location. As an entrepreneur, you already know what it takes to make a business a success, but we’re here to give you a few extra pushes in the right direction.

Cash flow

It might be an obvious question, but it’s an important one (if not the most important) - do you have enough money coming in to cover new outgoings? The prospect of expanding your business empire and opening another shiny location is incredibly exciting, though you don’t want to get too distracted by the prospect if you haven’t the means to begin in the first place.

Be honest with yourself, examine your profits and outgoings, and calculate whether your bank account could handle another location. It’s always a good idea to hire an accountant to give your profits and records a thorough look-through.

Current operations

Again, it’s time to be honest with yourself. Is your primary business location running smoothly enough that you could consider dividing your attention between it and a new venue? At the moment, you’re the full-time manager/owner, even if you don’t spend all your hours there, your attention is dedicated to this single site.

Do you have a great, solid team of staff and management that keep things moving? Are your current systems truly working for your business? If not, it might be time for a shake-up. At Square, our goal is to make sure you’re running like a well-oiled machine, with a focus on streamlined and safe transactions, and customisable solutions to suit all business types.

Customer demand

Your business might be doing great where it is, but do you know if there’s space in the market for your business elsewhere? While you may be filling a gap in the market in your current location, you need to make sure that there’s demand for your product or services in any prospective areas. Researching this will come in many different forms – from in-person research and exploring online SEO tools to paint an accurate picture of localised searches.

Take a leaf out of Welsh coffee company Coffi Co’s book. Their business journey began as two shipping containers in Cardiff bay, where customers would (and still do) go to enjoy creative coffee and an equally artistic and unique atmosphere. They’re a true success story, now with six locations all powered by POS systems that mean they can operate seamlessly across their sites. They needed to make sure they were offering something completely new and in-demand – which came down to optimising everything from their decor, to their chosen all-in-one restaurants POS system from Square, which allows them to function as an entirely modern and adaptable business.

Costs

Your cash flow is looking healthy, you have a trusty team and systems in place that keep the wheels turning, and this new area is screaming out for your business. Now, the big question: how much is this new venture going to cost? Obviously, running a multi-location business isn’t cheap, so now’s the time to work out the costs needed to run this new site - not just property, but stock, staffing, maintenance bills, the works!

Again, we’d recommend seeking out the advice of a few professionals to ensure you can open your doors without any money worries stopping you from enjoying your moment.

It’s all about planning, preparation, and persistence – but, once that’s all sorted, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

How to manage your multi-location business

You’re already doing a great job of managing your first location. You’ve got a great team, a loyal customer base, great relationships with suppliers, what more could you ask for? Well, a second location, that’s why you’re here. Let’s go through a few of the more practical elements of operations to consider when expanding your business to a second location.

Staffing

It goes without saying that your team’s welfare is just as important as profit, so you need to make sure that the staff you hire to work in this new location are well cared-for, well-paid and recognised for the work they do. Stepping into a brand-new business venue is not only daunting for you, but for your staff too. A passionate, well supported team will help you get the job done and make the transition easier for everyone involved.

Management

Managing a multi-location business usually requires support. This may mean hiring more management staff you trust to make sure things are operating smoothly.

To ensure you have overall oversight, Square can help you run operations from afar, with the extensive dashboard and Team Management tools. Sit back - you don’t have to worry about being here, there and everywhere.

Operations

Managing general business operations is something you may be naturally concerned about when you start splitting your time between two locations. If you run a multi-location retail business, for example, managing stock and equipment may be the biggest hurdle for you to jump over. However, you simply need to remember that there are plenty of tools ready to help you keep a watchful eye on things.

Gone are the days of pencil and paper stock takes. Now there’s Square for Retail. This powerful POS system provides the full package for all businesses, big or small. Manage your inventory, keep track of sales, take payments, all while remaining the face of your company.

Communication

Communication takes on additional importance when you can’t be on-site and in person with your teams all the time. Ensure you have systems to bring everyone up to speed on everything from brand values, management attitudes, and how to use software and hardware including tills and point of sale. Having a simple-to-operate logical payments-taking system makes this all the easier.

Technology and tools

We’ve already discussed how Square systems can help to streamline your business, both at a single site and after expanding your business to a second location. It’s all about finding the tools that will work best for you. Browse our ePOS systems and hardware and accessory options, to ensure that you’re ready and raring to go when you open that second set of doors.

So, are you ready?

Although opening a second business location undoubtedly requires a lot of planning, that’s sort-of where the fun begins. You get to build your new venue from the ground-up (not literally, leave that to the construction professionals), and follow your business’ growth along, right up until you welcome in your first customer and release your second site into the wild. It’s challenging, a little daunting but, most of all, incredibly exciting.