Multi-location businesses present leaders with specific challenges. Technology can provide solutions.
If you operate a business with multiple locations, here are just some of the ways you might be able to use tech to overcome obstacles that are preventing you from growing your company.
Tech solutions to multi-location business challenges
1) Collaboration and communication
“Silo syndrome” is one of the highest profile challenges of operating a business with multiple locations. Individual locations start to operate in their own “silo”, failing to share information and knowledge.
Cloud computing suites like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 ensure vital files and project work can be easily shared and accessed across business locations.
They also make clear communication simple. They’re sometimes even called “collaboration apps” because of the various real-time text chat channels, collaborative work and comment features, email clients, built-in video chat, and numerous other ways they have of keeping your team in touch.
Working at cross-purposes or duplicating work that has already been done elsewhere is a common complaint of many businesses with multiple teams and offices.
SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions are quickly becoming the norm in most industries because they eliminate this problem. That’s not to mention the other productivity benefits unlocked by anytime, anywhere access to data and software.
Increasingly, those businesses that haven’t migrated to the cloud are going to be left behind in terms of productivity by those that have.
The Total Cost of Ownership of multi-location businesses often outstrips that of other businesses in a way that isn’t proportional.
Businesses that adopt a cloud-first approach gain more flexibility. They’re able to adapt their SaaS use to match their needs.
With SaaS, technology costs can quickly become a predictable, minimised monthly spend rather than peaks and troughs of unpredictable legacy system usage.
Multi-location businesses and those with poorly considered remote working set-ups are particularly susceptible to cyberattacks. Cybercrime has erupted over the past decade, leaving at risk any business that doesn’t take cybersecurity seriously.
Financial risk. Reputational risk. Risking potential partnerships and other opportunities. Tackling the cybersecurity challenge as a multi-location business means you need to:
- Protect your data – migrate to the cloud to essentially offload some cybersecurity responsibility to major providers like Microsoft and Google who invest in it constantly.
- Train your team – the weakest link in any cybersecurity setup is almost always the human one. Modern social engineering and phishing attacks target poorly trained team members.
- Update – keep on top of updates and security patches. It can be irritating. It feels never-ending. But it’s not something you can overlook.
- Use VPNs – Virtual Private Networks keep your data encrypted when it’s passing between office locations. They’re almost certain to be a part of a good cybersecurity setup for your multi-location business.
- Institute MFA – Multi-Factor Authentication is a critical requirement that worrying numbers of multi-location businesses still seem to overlook.
- Work with experts – whether it’s in-house IT specialists or a Managed Service Provider (MSP), any business that’s grown to a multi-location scale needs up-to-date tech expertise to not only protect what you’ve built but help you grow towards the future.
5) Team and client meetings
Good internal communication practices are key to solving many challenges multi-location businesses face.
Videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Google Meet keep those communication lines open. A quick Zoom chat can keep everyone up-to-date with a given project or iterations on processes.
Of course, there are still those who insist many issues, queries, or updates that could be handled in a five-minute Google Meet need to be handled in person.
But for the rest of us, team and even client meetings handled in person – with the attendant travel costs, time, and wasted productivity – can be saved for only the most important first-time meetings and negotiations.
6) Team morale and culture
The larger your team gets and the more locations they’re spread between, the more difficult it is to retain a strong company culture.
Technology can provide the solution to this too. Collaboration and communication – chat threads, comments, videoconferencing, in-document editing – facilitated by tools like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 is certainly part of it.
There’s more though. From apps designed to provide mental health support to those that reward your team with little added benefits, there are many tools out there that can help your company continue to embody the culture you created among your original team.
7) Social and environmental impact monitoring
CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is becoming a key metric used by consumers and investors alike to decide which organisations are worthy of their money.
Many responsible business leaders are already putting the planet and local people first. The added business case for good CSR practice is, for many, simply the icing on the cake.
Doing this isn’t always easy though. Running a business with multiple locations only exacerbates the challenge. With the right technology though, you can track things like:
- Electricity usage at your individual locations
- Vehicle fuel consumption at different locations and routes
- Carbon emissions and reductions
- Water used and saved
- Waste and recycling
As well as dedicated environmental tracking apps, migrating to the cloud is a “green” move. Especially with big providers like Google creating tools like their Carbon Footprint to let you directly measure your impact.
Like most of the challenges that multi-location businesses face, as soon as you identify and measure your goals, technology has potential solutions ready to go.
Not sure where to start addressing the multi-location business challenges you’re facing?
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Set up a free, no-obligation chat with Chief Geek Gildas Jones today. Let’s walk through how you can tackle those challenges using tech.