Success is a good thing, but many companies find themselves at a loss when they’re more successful than they bargained for. Scaling a business is hard, and that process can be even more challenging for service-based businesses.
Startups that have outgrown their original roots grapple with finding ways to replicate their culture and processes across new locations and new team members. The possibility of building something bigger and better than the founders may have envisioned is enticing, but the stakes get even higher as more people become dependent on the brand’s success. As company strategist Eric Holtzclaw explained, “Expand too quickly and you risk killing what you have created.”
Nathan Evans, the COO of BrandYourself and an expert in company location expansion, has helped multiple companies expand to different locations through growth stages.
Here’s how Evans says other companies can achieve sustainable expansion.
It’s all about the location.
Just as in real estate, location is of the utmost importance when expanding. “Expanding to new locations is often reactive rather than proactive, meaning time is typically in short supply,” Evans says. “But leaders still need to be very deliberate when choosing their locations.”
Different locales offer different opportunities, and the possible payoffs vary. Although a brand may have a variety of target audiences, some locations may cater to specific demographics and not others. That means it pays to know whether a city is full of retirees or young families, early tech adopters or natural living-focused folks.
While consumers are one consideration for retail or service-based operations, all types of businesses have to factor in the talent available. “If you’re solving for rapid growth, the talent pool is obviously critical,” Evans explains. “Speak to local recruitment firms in the area about employee profiles. They often have prepackaged analyses about specific roles and talent pools in the area, and they can be invaluable in helping you discern between locations.”
The biggest factor is knowing your worth to the area. A business’ economic impact influences how beneficial a particular location turns out to be. Engaging with the local Chamber of Commerce to understand recent commercial trends and conducting research into city and state press to get a feel for other companies in the area is a good start.
It pays to know how much of a contribution you will be making to the job market. It helps to be informed going into any discussions as there are nearly always city and state incentives made available to entice companies. Attractive rate loans and even grants can be negotiated to help fund things like relocation packages and upfront hiring costs.”
Making relocation enticing.
Even after identifying the right geographic location for its expansion efforts, a brand can still run into trouble launching or establishing a strong second location. Unless a business is purposefully looking for a fresh start in a new location, it will stand a better chance of success if it’s launched by existing employees.
Invest in encouraging pre-identified key contributors to relocate. Be very discerning about who in your organization would contribute most to success, and double-down on your investment in them. Investments should be deep, not wide. These are the founding members of your new office and should be considered as such.
Create a small pool of more attractive relocation incentives, and make them available on a “first come, first served” basis. This encourages early commitment, helps gather early positive momentum for the venture, and helps you understand the demands on talent acquisition in your new location.
Fund exploratory trips to the new location, and don’t forget to budget for family members visiting, too. Your employees’ decisions will be influenced more by these factors than ones you can directly control, so include significant others and children in the decision-making process.
Most successful companies will face the need to expand at some point, where it’s through scaling product lines or adding new locations. While the latter may seem like a lot to tackle, businesses that are strategic about where they expand–and who they do it with–stand a much stronger chance of keeping all their doors open.