Expanding your small business can be exciting for any entrepreneur. However, adding multiple locations means you can no longer be physically present in every spot to control the daily operations. And that can be a difficult thing for hands-on business owners who have largely overseen those operations since day one.
This is just one of the challenges that comes with expanding to multiple locations. You also need to keep track of inventory, manage employees and potentially even customize the products and prices to suit the needs of each location.
Since you can’t be at every location to monitor what’s being sold, you need an easy way to track sales and monitor inventory. You want to make sure that you have enough stock at each location, but not so much that you end up wasting valuable resources.
You also need to regularly monitor transactions, not only to make sure that your team is upholding their end of the bargain, but also to see what items are selling best and what factors might be impacting those sales. When you add multiple locations, you might start to notice different trends at each one. But you need a way to find out that information so you can take advantage of it, instead of just assuming that every location will act just like that first one.
Southern Angel Donut Co. in Pinehurst, North Carolina is one business that recently made the shift to a multi-location operation. The company opened a second location in Robbins, North Carolina. The two locations are only about a half hour apart. So the owners can keep operations fairly similar and check in at both locations regularly. However, as a small business with limited resources, they still need an easy way to track what’s selling at each location so they don’t have a ton of waste.
Honeysuckle Gelato in Atlanta, Georgia is another company that is currently working on expansion. One of the company’s new locations will be just south of Atlanta, but the other is in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This opens up a new potential set of challenges for the company. When you expand into new markets, it’s not just about keeping up on the day-to-day inventory that’s being used. You may be dealing with customers that have a completely different set of preferences.
Even if you offer limited products or if the customers in your different markets tend to have similar preferences, they still might have different pricing needs or demands. For example, a company expanding from the Northeast to the Midwest might not be able to extend its former prices to those new customers who are used to paying lower rates. So you need to be able to adjust.
“Small business owners, whether they’re in the restaurant industry or the retail business or whatever, are usually very hands on in the store when they’re first getting started,” Shawn Hagist, product director for NCR’s Silver Pro series, said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends.
“They run a lot of those day-to-day operations themselves. But then as they expand out, unless it’s a true family business where you can have a trusted family member in every location at all times, it’s hard for small business owners to get themselves out of those day-to-day operations and actually focus on growing the business or getting some time back for themselves.”
To accomplish its expansion goals,Southern Angel Donut Co. uses NCR’s cloud-based POS system NCR Silver. It allows the team to accept payments, but also to track sales, inventory and shipping data on the same platform. Since it’s cloud based, the owners can access that info from anywhere, allowing them to make ordering decisions even if they can’t be at each store every single day.
“It gives me an idea of what to make so I don’t have a ton of leftover donuts, or I’m losing money,” said Sarah Hargrove, co-owner of the company. “It also helps me keep track of my shipments. And it also gives my partners access to look into the business from far away.”
Wes Jones, CEO of Honeysuckle Gelato in Atlanta, said, “NCR allows us to take a really great look at the analytics of our business. We want to stay current and fresh and relevant, especially when it comes to our flavors. So the insight it gives us really helps us make every decision, right down to the last scoop that we offer.”
Hagist says, “When you’re opening a new site in a new market, you might have a different pricing structure, so you can set up a price list for each store or for a specific region.”
NCR Silver is a POS system that includes options for single-location businesses, multi-location businesses and even franchises. Since it’s a cloud-based system, you can access the data even when you’re not on site. And in the case of multi-location businesses, you can filter data by location or other factors like employees and times of day.
Essentially, it’s a tool that is able to scale with you as your business grows. You can take advantage of the simple features and low price point when you’re first starting out. And if you decide to take the leap and open another location, you don’t have to switch to an entirely new interface. NCR Silver can even accommodate your business if you grow to include hundreds of locations or if you decide to start franchising to speed up your growth.
When you expand your small business to include more than one location, you need to find ways to monitor all those daily operations even when you can’t always be there to see them in person. Cloud based tools like NCR Silver give you access to important insights about your business from anywhere. This gives you the chance to make informed decisions about your product offerings, inventory, pricing, hiring decisions and future expansion possibilities. But perhaps even more importantly, it allows you to see the overall picture of your business so you can focus on growth and making those big picture decisions, rather than constantly staying bogged down by the day-to-day details.