Running multiple storefronts is exponentially harder than having a single retail location. With one, the small business owner can manage everything since business operations are consolidated. They can oversee the work of all employees and observe the service that is provided to customers.
With multiple store locations, however, the formula for success radically changes.
Focus on Process, Not Performers
Star employees greatly impact a company with a single location. However, when there are multiple locations with many people doing the same job, there needs to be a proven process for all employees to follow. Metrics need to be established, tracked and reported to compare the performance of all locations.
For example, during its peak success, Mrs. Fields was running 500 stores, and every aspect of running a single location was mapped out each day by the headquarters’ computer system to ensure profitability.
Train and Retrain
Multiple locations mean a constant flow of employees and turnover. All employees need to be trained to a documented company-wide standard. While each location will have a slightly different culture, customers will expect high levels of service at all locations. Take McDonald’s as an example, where customer experience is the same regardless of geographical location.
Click here for tips on improving your employee training process.
Choose Multiple Decision-Makers
With one location, the small business owner operates the company as a hub-and-spoke organization: all the critical decisions must go through them. With multiple locations, however, the owner needs to have trusted decision-making managers at each place. Some restaurants, such as Lettuce Entertain You, even allow these decision-makers to have a stake in the business, as each location has a manager who is also a part-owner of the site.
Getting people from different locations to share best practices helps fuel innovations across the company. This works because they may all have different experiences with what works with customers. This can be facilitated by having semi-annual cross-training meetings and collaboration across locations.
With more stores and a higher volume, economies of scale allow you to negotiate for lower prices from vendors. This only works if orders of goods, services and supplies are coordinated and combined to one purchase order to the vendor. Each location shouldn’t act as an independent company sourcing goods.
To improve your relationship with your suppliers, see our 10 tips for managing vendors.
Track Financial Performance
One of the advantages of multiple locations is the ability to compare store performance to each other, not just third-party competitors. Use a system like QuickBooks Point of Sale to track all your sales from all locations. By identifying the best-performing locations and their best-selling products, you can duplicate tactics and (hopefully) results at other sites to increase sales and customer satisfaction.
Follow Local Regulations
Various states and local jurisdictions may have different rules for retail locations. These need to be understood and followed. The most important step to take with multiple locations is to employ a payroll service that knows local procedures to ensure all government regulations are followed. For example, many cities have special licensing and zoning rules that may affect each location.
Building a cohesive culture becomes more difficult with many locations. Stop by your stores frequently, since there is some information you can only obtain by periodical in-person visits. If this isn’t possible, use video calls to see what’s going on. Supplement this with an internal Facebook group to post relevant company information and to provide a place where people can respond.
Watch Cash Flow
Successful companies need to focus on profitability. Cash flow is strained if the business tries to grow too fast. The small business owner needs to ensure they don’t grow themselves broke. This takes financial planning and a consistent review of financial statements and budgets.
For a guide to all the essential financial statements, see our infographic on financial reporting.
Managing multiple locations requires adaptability and fortitude. Establish and refine processes, and create lines of communication to ensure all of your locations are successful. By being aware of big-picture financials and nuances like local regulations, you can avoid the headaches associated with managing multiple locations.