Successful agency owners often say the hardest thing in growing their business was opening their first satellite office. Whether in a new city, or even a new country that first step in geographic expansion is in reality a gigantic leap. So, what are the issues, and how can you overcome them?
Maintaining a brand identity is one of the hardest things to do when opening a new office. We’re not just talking logos and straplines - that's branding. Your “brand identity” also includes your values, vision and the integrity with which you and your team conduct business. Instilling these values in your main office is hard enough. Ensuring that they inspire regional offices, whilst also giving them freedom to try their own things, can be a difficult balance to strike.
Keeping your finger in the pie while avoiding micro-management is something many business owners struggle with. This is why it is vitally important to hire well in strategic positions. The manager of your first regional branch is an important milestone in your growth strategy.
The tactics you employed in your home city might not work in new environments. By hiring managers with local knowledge and allowing new tactics to be deployed, you can inspire your new team to success. If your vision, values and mission are authentic, your new management should be capable of using them as a framework for growth.
Sadly, many company mission statements still read like they were written by Dilbert (http://dilbert.com/search_results?terms=Mission+Statement). As a quick test, does your mission statement include any real targets? People tend not to be inspired by statements choc-ful of meaningless platitudes and fuziness - they are simply not believable.
A great mission statement includes a concrete goal.
"A computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft Software", didn't do Bill Gates too badly after all.
It might be easy to look at a new office and think that it is failing if it's not producing the expected revenue within the first 6 months. Use your recruitment software to look at the effort going in. Track open vacancies, calls made and emails sent. Set realistic KPI’s and use your dashboards to track them.
Self-service recruitment dashboards can give the power of analytics to everyone in your business. Rather than use dashboards for top-down target setting – e.g. ‘Our most successful consultant makes 50 proactive calls a day so you should ALL make 50 proactive calls a day’, consider allowing your consultants to decide which behaviours they believe drives their own personal success. Next, ensure they understand what they would need to measure to continue and encourage those behaviours. With self-service recruitment dashboards they can measure and track the activities they believe in.
Keep an eye on the opportunities pipeline. This is a valuable tool that not only focuses your sales team on the activities that matter, but also helps management see where opportunities are converting into new jobs on, or where you are losing out. Perhaps strategical tweaks are all that is needed to grow the office into a thriving and profitable business.
Ultimately it's about belief - believing in your brand, values, management and people that will make your first satellite office believe in themselves.