So your business is expanding. Congratulations! However, a new set of challenges will likely be presented to you as your company grows outward. One of them is the issue of maintaining centralization and unity as your business becomes decentralized. This is an important point to consider because a decentralized business will run into a lot of problems, particularly with communication, planning and even command structure. Here are some ideas for how you can maintain centralization and unity in an expanding business.
1. Keep A Management Structure
With your business expanding and new locations popping up in any number of locations, it is going to be important to maintain a management structure. Not doing this will result in different managers doing what they want and having little support from the central office, which will lead to frustration, disorganization and an uneven customer experience. Your original business plan should provide a helpful blueprint for your company’s management structure, although you may have to come up with new levels of management as your business expands. By requiring managers and employees in satellite locations to report back to the main office, you keep them answering to a centralized contact point and everyone remains on the same page. It will also cut down confusion regarding who is in charge of what. In return, the central office has to offer and provide support for satellite managers so they can most effectively do their jobs.
2. Rely On Technology
There are any number of software products available on the market that will be very helpful in keeping your business centralized. Video chat and video conferencing programs are some of the most useful, with Skype being the most popular. There are also a variety of software products specializing in facilitating video conferences, like join.me, which allows for screen sharing. Project management software is also very helpful if a project is being worked on by employees in multiple locations. Pm software centralizes everything so everyone is working in one collaboration-friendly system. Cloud computing and storage is helpful too, as everyone in your company will have access to the same files and systems instead of having to work off of a dozen different systems. Most allow employees to work on the same document at the same time, no matter how far away they are physically from each other. Smartphones are a good idea because they allow employees to communicate easily and instantaneously from wherever they are located.
3. Operate On The Same Rulebook
Establishing company-wide policies and enforcing them is another good method for maintaining centralization as a business grows. For example, if it is your policy to allow or not allow customers to do something at one of your locations, that rule should be in place for your other locations as well. This is particularly advantageous if your goal is to build a franchise, in which uniform products and services will be expected. On the other hand, don’t be so strict as to lose some important flexibility. Managers in different locations might be dealing with a different customer base that has different needs. The best solution is likely to allow managers to add or alter some of your rules for their own teams, but with approval from the central office. Just make sure all rules and policies are consistent with the company culture you are trying to build.
Keeping everyone in the loop is more important when your business starts to branch outward, and while it can be a challenge, it can be done. All it requires is some organizational structure (with enough flexibility) and some help from quality software. Work with your managers and come up with a system that meets your business’s needs. Don’t be afraid to make changes if something isn’t working out. The right answers and methods will eventually present themselves.