Our business has been growing and maturing in the Twin Cities. We're now beginning to consider expanding with additional locations around the country. What should we make sure to do and, equally important, what should we make sure to avoid?

Darin Lynch

Founder and Chief Liberation Officer, Irish Titan


Franchisers are the masters of opening new locations and their business model depends on replication. The tactics that they put in place could help you frame the expansion of your business. There are four key elements.

Transferrable systems and processes. The things that make your business run smoothly and efficiently need to be transferrable. If they are, it will help you get your new location up to speed quickly.

Culture. Much like your systems and processes, this too will need to transfer to your new location. At your existing location, your teams have established working relationships and expectations for each other, and for how they treat customers. You need to be very intentional in creating this culture at each additional location.

People. You probably recruited and mentored many of the people in your current organization. One of the big tasks for you will be figuring out how to staff and train people at the new location. Questions like "How often can I be at the new location?"; "What is my role there, especially if I have a manager in place?"; "Do I work with her?"; "Should I send people from Minnesota to work there?" will come up. You must balance between "That's the way we do it in Minnesota" and "Do it the way you think it should be done here."

Learning. Since the new location may be different, focus on learning. Start with a small staff and charge them with understanding the market. You may find some important differences in customers, competitors or the people you hire. Encourage the new organization to experiment, learn and experiment some more. If you do, you can build a strong organization there, and gain new knowledge and skills that benefit your entire organization.

About the author

Mark Spriggs is a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.