This month, our contributors discuss the ins and outs of expanding a business to a multi-site operation and what sort of decisions need to be made before committing to big changes.
Managing Director, Autosupplies (Chesterfield)
We’re not unique in operating from a single branch location. I just wanted it to be the best it could be.
Today, we are arguably the largest single branch motor factor in the UK. We have maximised the capacity of our current site and are in the process of completing a 7,600sq ft extension.
The extension will provide more space to extend product ranges and will mean our site in Bolsover will occupy 35,000sq ft, allowing us to hold in excess of £2.5million worth of products.
The increase in our stockholding will also have a significantly positive impact on the high level of service provided to independent garages, retailers and motorists in the surrounding areas.
From this site, which now employs 93 members of staff and a fleet of more than 50 delivery vehicles, we supply customers within a 50 mile radius. This is a considerable area for one branch, but we have spent years and plenty of resources putting the systems in place to ensure garages receive a level of service that they would expect from a garage next door to them.
Factors with multi-branch operations often have their problems replicated across the network – we have proven what can be achieved from one site.
But, we will reach a point in the future where there is only so much we can do from the one site and it’s no secret that we are about to embark on a new opportunity in another area.
Although on a much smaller scale, we will take all our experience and knowledge and look to expand this new venture.
Proprietor, Scotlands Ash Garage
The growth of any business presents both challenges and opportunities. Expansion often requires investment and that investment requires a return.
As a garage, we have never really looked at the expansion of the business through opening a second location. All our growth has been through our existing site and through key aspects such as people, equipment and technology.
There have been times where we experimented, as every good business should, and introduced things that have worked and some that haven’t.
For example, we are open for MOTs from 6am by appointment. This has worked for us and fits in with people’s lifestyle. Secondly, we have the largest fleet of courtesy cars in the area.
This is a key driver for us.
Courtesy cars offer massive flexibility for customers and we guarantee them with every service. Motorists see the servicing and MOT of a vehicle as a real hassle and so, if we can remove this, we stand above the competition.
It’s all about making life easier for the motorist. We want to be the garage that answers all their vehicle requirements and have, for example, recently invested in the latest air conditioning equipment to service both types of gas.
Our investment and expansion has brought some logistical issues where, depending on workload, we do have to worksmart to maximise the space available.
Furthermore, with an increaseing number of new homes being built, we have the opportunity to expand. We are currently planning for this now.