Growing your business

Top tips for opening a new branch office

3 min read


Opening another office can lead to a world of opportunity for a business – gaining access new markets, customers and talent, as well as providing a great challenge for the owner.

However, it is a big step, and one that can cripple a business if it gets things wrong. Thorough research, adequate resourcing and a thoughtful strategy are all helpful to ensure success.

How do you know you’re ready to open a new office?

If your business is experiencing growing pains – such as falling short on office space or, more importantly, not being able to meet customer demand – this can be a sign you’re ready to open a second or subsequent office. If you’re consistently getting enquiries from clients in another viable market but are either having to turn them away, or struggling to meet their needs from your existing location, this will undoubtedly have you thinking about a new outlet for your operation.

Opening a new office will place high demands on your time, so your existing business also needs to be sufficiently staffed and systemised to operate well in your absence.

Do your research

If you have an indication of where you might like to open a new office, nothing beats getting ‘in-market’ to validate the opportunity. What competitors are already operating in your space? What regulatory or legal issues might you encounter in this new location? And what is the recruitment market like?

Most importantly you’ll want to spend time talking to potential customers and ideally you’ll have progressed these conversations to the point you have a pipeline of work in place when you open.

Ensure you’re adequately resourced

Opening a new office often requires substantial capital outlay. This can include large setup costs, but many additional costs – like rent and salaries – will be ongoing. Building a spreadsheet of the costs involved will help paint a clear picture of what resources will be required, and what additional funding, such as a bank loan, you might need.

People power

If it looks like you have a promising new market (and the resources to pursue it), then it’s time to put in place the necessary infrastructure.

One of the most important considerations here is your team. The people who staff your new location will be charged with spearheading your success, so they need to be aligned with your business’ goals and motivated to achieve them. Many owners find the best way to achieve this, and ensure the culture of the new operation is aligned with the business’ overall culture, is to head the new office themselves (remembering that existing team members will still need your time and attention). Or it may be an opportunity to promote a senior and experienced team member and provide them with a new challenge.

Communication is key

Regular and open communication between the teams in your new and existing locations is crucial. Technology offers so many ways to keep in touch – calling, messaging, video conferencing – but it’s also great to diarise opportunities for team members to meet face-to-face. Think too about how you can draw other parties into these occasions - whether that’s customers, suppliers or advisors – to strengthen these bonds as your business grows.

Location, location

Customers need to be a primary consideration when choosing the location of your new office. Where are they based and how can you make it easy for them to find you? Also, will this be an appealing location for attracting staff as your business grows?

The traditional real estate question for business owners has been whether to lease their premises or buy them outright, but another option could be a co-working space. Especially in the early days, this can be a cheaper and more flexible alternative, with networking advantages that may help you more seamlessly integrate into your new business community.

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