Any successful business will eventually reach a crossroads on its journey. Do you offer more products and services to your existing customers, or look at a new location where you can replicate your success and grow your business in multiple geographical locations?
At Frank Recruitment, we know a thing or two about expansion. When our parent company formed in 2006, we knew we always wanted to be a niche IT recruiter, but we were ambitious as an organisation. We very quickly outgrew three people working in one office in Newcastle, so our options were to become a more generalized staffing firm so we could deal with more candidates, or to look at expanding our existing offer to more locations. If you’re at a similar stage of growth where you’re considering the best way to grow your business, here are some considerations to bear in mind.
1. Know your business
It's vital to truly understand your business. So if the opportunity of expansion arises, start by considering what your values are as an organisation, and what is it that makes you different to your competitors. You also need to know what is happening under the bonnet, so your knowledge of the company should be absolute.
Your aim isn’t to be starting afresh in your new location, it’s to take your existing operation and simply duplicate it. Any successful expansion will do this—imagine how the second ever Starbucks looked and felt, and every store that has opened since. There may be some variances, but it is largely the same. Stay focused on what makes your business different, and better, and make sure these strengths are what drives your growth in location two.
2. Recruit ambitious staff
You want people working with you who have the same motivations and are excited at the possibility of expansion. During the application process, try and look for people who have demonstrated this. You can even ask about it during interviews. When we open a new location, we always use existing staff to run it, it serves several purposes; it makes sure the company culture remains consistent and gives staff clarity that there is career progression available to top performers.
This wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t recruit people who shared that hunger, so making people aware of our ambitions is a big part of the hiring cycle. If you have a genuine desire to grow your business and expand, then this should form a core part of your recruitment process. For the right candidates, it could be a core part of their decision-making when deciding on their next career move.
3. Invest in marketing
You will need to invest time and money into marketing, with a very clear strategy so that you can benchmark success. Your business may be the same, but will the people using it in your next location be similar, too? For us, the answer was yes, but answering that question accurately will play a big part in whether you sink or swim. You also need to know the channels your new customers will be using. It can be as subtle as a change in the social media they’re using, to needing to use completely different advertising methods.
When we opened our first office in Germany this year, we discovered their media took a totally different approach to public relations. It could have been quite easy to waste time and resources trying to get press coverage, but thankfully we were prepared for it. Thorough research of your new market will help minimize the risk of this happening and allow you to use your time more productively.
Social media is a great way to form networks and collaborations where you can be of mutual benefit to each other. Look for influencers that can bring value to your brand and reach out to them, but remember it’s a two-way relationship, and any approach should be carefully thought out.
4. Build loyalty
It’s also important to think about the reason people come to you ahead of your competitors. Loyalty is a key driver behind building up a customer base, so don’t ever forget that core. We have over 1 million professionals in our database of technology professionals, and one of the most common ways that we add to this is through referrals from candidates we have already placed. We aim to deliver an exceptional service, and when their peers are looking for someone that can help them with their career, they are sent in our direction.
It costs a lot more money to attract new customers than it does to retain existing ones, so this should be a core part of your operation. The service and approach you have used to build your business this far is exactly what will continue driving customers back to you. Whether it’s through simply offering exceptional service, or a rewards scheme, looking after the people who are already through your door should be high on your list of priorities.
The most important thing is to prepare carefully ahead of the move. From choosing the location itself, to how you’ll market yourself; it’s unlikely you reached this stage in your journey by making rash, uninformed decisions, and it’s not the time to begin. Risks are fine, but guesses are reckless.
Make sure any operational decisions are properly researched. This takes us neatly back to the hiring process—surrounding yourself with people who have a strategic mind, as well as the ambition and experience of growing a company, will ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of success.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun along the way. Having worked hard to make a success of your business, expansion is a thrilling step in the evolution of your organisation. Done correctly, you will find it to be an incredibly rewarding step on your journey. It just takes a little bit of focus to make sure you enjoy it.
About the Author
Zoe Morris is President of Frank Recruitment Group. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, she has helped the staffing firm grow to 18 different locations across four continents, as well as achieving substantial year-on-year growth for the business.