If your IT or Managed Services business is growing and it seems that expanding by adding additional locations is a feasible option, take note of the following tips to help manage your organization across multiple locations. The growth process is always a learning experience but with some preparation and planning, you will find that you can handle the transition and management of multiple locations.
Here are some tips to help you manage your business in multiple places:
Once out of the main office, some employees may feel a bit more freedom - which can be both a positive and a negative. The documented processes, rules and procedures of the main office should be duplicated and put into practice at alternate locations. When just beginning to expand, many secondary locations leave key employees temporarily in charge with no real full time management onsite. This can be a positive in that in a more relaxed environment, employees may feel more empowered to take charge and be productive. On the negative side, some employees with too much freedom can negatively impact the productivity of the secondary location. In preparation for expansion, meet with and present both new and existing employees a handbook or guide that outlines the company structure, operations, chain of command and communication and contact information for all resources that covers all locations of the business. What is working in the main office will likely work in any secondary locations.
Be Specific About the Chain of Command and Communication
This is a primary factor in the success or failure of a secondary location. If there is not proper communication at all times between the company's home base and the other locations, costly problems can develop quickly. You've probably already experienced this when sending some of your IT staff out to client locations from time to time. Be sure that all staff at all office location are aware of the chain of command and the order of communication to keep things running smoothly at all times. Those in the lead should always be in the know.
Be Open About Expectations
Some IT and Managed Services Providers operate their offices under a more relaxed atmosphere than others. Regardless of how “at-home” employees feel, they still need to be aware of and meet the expectations for productivity and the overall success of the operation, as well as the level of professionalism each of your clients receive. Your goals for the main office, as well as secondary locations should be made clear to all employees, resulting in company-wide goals and consistency across your various locations.
Maintain High Visibility At Secondary Locations
As the business owner it is imperative, especially during the start-up phase of a new location, that you maintain high visibility onsite and stay on top of the new venture. You can also regularly schedule phone/video conferences to touch base with your new operational locations to insure that your goals are being understood and achieved and if not, discuss what could be improved upon to make these goals a reality. You can't be in more than one location at a time, so having quality management staff in all locations is imperative to the success of your expanding IT and Managed Services business.
Bring A Team Together
For smaller startups that have been a close knit group from the first day, it can be a challenge to integrate new people into the fold, especially ones that do not work in the next cubicle each day. Brainstorm ideas with staff and management to discover ways to keep the team spirit going regardless of who works where. Host get-togethers, mail newsletters, hold company-wide meetings and celebrate successes together as an entire organization and not just at one of your office locations. When employees feel like they are part of one big team regardless of their location, you will find that morale is increased and communication, cooperation, and productivity levels will be more effective and consistent across locations.