It’s finally here — the time when your single business location has demonstrated enough value that you can confidently expand into additional locations. Or, you are already operating multiple locations and are looking to further expand and increase the effectiveness of each unit.
Multi-location business management presents a unique set of challenges. From struggling to dedicate equal attention to each storefront, to navigating how to market different locations, it’s safe to say there’s a bit of a learning curve when managing multiple locations. Fortunately, there is an assortment of best practices that can streamline operations and enhance profitability.
Here are the top management best practices for businesses with multiple locations.
What is a Multi-Location Business?
A multi-location business is classified as one of two types of operations. A multi-location business can either be a corporate entity that owns multiple franchise locations, like Professional Karate Schools of America (PKSA), or a single business with multiple locations, like InCourage Martial Arts.
Many of us may not have the support of a multi-million-dollar, large-scale corporate franchiser to guide you through the processes of managing multiple business locations. So, we’ve gathered the most common challenges you may face, along with the best management practices you can follow.
Team members from four locations of InCourage Martial Arts gather during a company-wide tournament. A robust management system, collaboration, and the right technology systems have been key to the 20+ years InCourage has been in business.
Common Challenges for Business Owners with Multiple Locations
Even a single business location can present numerous challenges that must be properly addressed to ensure ongoing solid operations and continued membership growth. However, once a company decides to expand to own and operate multiple locations, those challenges are magnified. In particular, there are four primary challenges for businesses with multiple locations.
1. Staff Recruitment and Retention: Finding the perfect location for your next location is easy. Finding the right team members to operate that location is the key to a successful expansion. Every new location you operate increases the amount of effort that is needed to recruit, train, and retain your best assets.
2. Maintaining Consistency Across Multiple Locations: A lack of consistency across multiple business locations can fuel negative opinions and reviews of your company as a whole. Even if you pour all of your efforts into a new location, poor reviews and reduced memberships at other locations can ultimately impact the success of new locations before they even open. This is where a strong operational, management, and staff recruitment and training system is needed for growth and scalability.
3. Reconciling and Collecting Franchise, License, and Management Fees: Depending on your specific preferences and business type, you may be interested in franchising, licensing your business to others, or taking a percentage of all gross sales to fund a strong management team; however, reconciling and collecting your monthly operational fees can pose a significant challenge. You’ll need the correct financial reporting tools to prevent fraud and an automated fee collection system to ensure that each location pays the correct and required fees.
4. Dedicating The Right Amount of Attention to Each Location: One of the top challenges businesses with multiple locations will face is dedicating the right amount of attention to each location. A common mistake multi-location businesses make is focusing too heavily on the growth and management of new locations, creating a lack of attention to established locations (and established customers).
5. Analyzing and Comparing Performance from Each Location: When running a multi-location business, expect to have multiple key performance indicators (KPIs) for each location. It’s a challenge in itself to organize and decipher these metrics, but KPIs skewed by inconsistent effort across each location can make it difficult to pinpoint true operational inefficiencies.
6 Tips to Manage Businesses with Multiple Locations with Ease
To avoid the common complications that accompany managing multiple locations, it’s essential to adhere to a few best management practices. While running a business with multiple locations never equals overnight success, these tips can help get you on track for success at each of your different locations.
1. Simplify Operations and Take Yourself Out of the Day-to-Day Studio Operations
This is the most essential part to expand your business. If you are still running the day-to-day at one location, who is overseeing and managing your other locations?
The easiest way to take yourself off the mats is to simplify everything. From your instructional delivery system to your registration process, everything needs to be streamlined for a brand new hire to quickly understand and get up to speed in a matter of days.
New management software systems such as MyStudio provide a fully automated and paperless online registration system that allows new members to register for your membership wherever they are and on any device. Additionally the customized MyStudio Member App gives your members the ability to self-service many of the customer-related needs that used to fall onto the studio operator’s shoulders. This allows multi-location brands to quickly expand with just one full-time key member – an instructor on the mats – compared to having another full-time manager to just keep up with registrations and other member-related service tasks.
2. Automate Your Billing & Payments (And Franchise, License, or Management Fee Collection)
A lack of billing and payment management solutions can quickly cause profit losses and employee productivity delays for businesses with multiple locations. Whether you’re collecting membership fees from customers or a percentage of sales from business partners, you need a payment and billing solution to automate and streamline your financial processes. At MyStudio, we pride ourselves on being able to serve the largest brands with our enterprise, multi-location management platform. Whether you operate two locations like USK Karate, 35 locations like PKSA, or 500 locations worldwide like Code Ninjas, MyStudio has the automated global payment collection solution to meet your needs.
Day-to-day financial management of a multi-location business requires accurate data collection and organization. With the right solution, you can securely process customer payments and issue necessary billing all from one platform.
For franchisors and licensors, the need for a financial management solution that can also automate partner payments and accurate financial record-keeping is crucial. Look for a solution that offers automated franchise and license fee collection that allows you to set specific fee calculations for each franchise location and offers seamless payment collection at the point of purchase. Within MyStudio, this feature splits the collection percentage at the time of each payment transaction, allowing the money that is due to Headquarters to be collected instantly for daily, next-day payout.
Automate franchise and license fee collections using a system that takes the guesswork and manual calculations out of the picture. Set specific fees per location and collect them right at the point of sale, with next day payouts. With multiple locations, this function is critical and reduces miscalculations and eliminates late payments from franchisees/licensees.
3. Implement KPIs & Measure Performance Across Locations
The only way to properly understand if businesses with multiple locations are successful as a whole is to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) that are measured across all locations. Failing to measure daily performance across each business location properly can quickly result in unexpected operational complications varying from profit losses to overall poor customer satisfaction.
The main KPIs that are absolute musts are leads and trials conversion metrics, total membership net gain or losses, and account sales per location.
The ability to easily access this data helps promote the thorough development of growth strategies that aid in company expansion.
4. Build a Management Team
What if you and your team that operates each location never have to see a piece of junk mail ever again – physical or electronic? How much more productive and liberating would that be?
Tasks such as facility maintenance, inventory and equipment orders, website upkeep, vehicle maintenance, staff recruitment and hiring, payroll, bill payments, marketing strategies and executions, and product improvements should be handled by a professional management team. That way, the only thing that the location operations team needs to worry about is creating the best experience for the customers when they walk through the door.
5. Empower and Simplify Responsibilities for Your Staff
Growing your business into new locations will require the onboarding of new employees. With that being said, it’s vital that as you grow into new locations, your employee empowerment and management processes do as well. At the end of the day, in order for your new locations to be successful, you have to be able to rely on a team that will consistently get the job done – and simplicity and automation are the answer.
To ensure a consistently productive and positive team from location to location, be sure to communicate all expectations with your staff effectively. Deploy a task management solution so each employee is aware of their daily duties and can approach each day understanding what’s expected of them — and their teammates — for an environment that best caters to customers. The less thinking that your team needs to do, the better they can perform their duties.
Also, empower staff to be at peak performance by eliminating any roadblocks within their day. Software that allows you to manage your business from anywhere means you can maintain a healthy work environment at any location, from any location. You can monitor daily performance and offer positive assistance when necessary to encourage your team to thrive.
6. Develop Your Online Presence
In today’s day and age, a solid online presence is a crucial driver of a business's overall popularity and success among the local community. With a weak online presence, potential customers may have a hard time discovering you or make the assumption that your business isn’t all that established. While in the works of expanding into new locations, the last thing you need is a lacking online presence impacting your potential customer leads.
To better develop your online presence, having a website that encompasses your brand and provides all relevant details for customers upfront is simply not enough. In today’s market you also need to ensure that your online customer reviews are topnotch for each location.
Claim the Google My Business profile listing for each location and accurately update your businesses’ profiles. It should list all the accurate business information connected to each business location, including phone number, address, and hours of operation. Then you need to systematically ask for customer feedback on your Google profile. The more organic and positive reviews you have on your Google Business Page, the more clicks you will get to your website.
The MyStudio Member App does this seamlessly with a one click Google and Yelp review button for customers to easily leave reviews when prompted. Automations can be set up to ask customers to leave a review at the best time – such as after a member enrolls into one of your programs, or when they achieve their first rank with your studio.
Businesses with Multiple Locations Require a Robust Toolkit
If you thought opening your first location was intimidating, taking the leap to expand into new locations takes the nerves to a whole new level. Fortunately, the right business management tools can allow you to streamline your expansion process and focus on what’s important — your customers.
With MyStudio’s business management solutions, multi-location businesses can simplify and automate countless time-consuming tasks, from new customer onboarding and scheduling to customer and franchisee payment collection. To discover how MyStudio can enhance your expanding operation, start a free trial with us at www.mystudio.io or email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about management solutions for your multi-location business.