Spinning plates, juggling and all while smiling and moving forward, you’d be forgiven for thinking we were talking about circus performers. But over and above all the other skills required to be a successful entrepreneur these are also required, and never more so than when managing a business over a number of sites.
Ann Rushforth MBE and Derek Loudon are both experienced in managing multi-site businesses;
Ann’s ScotNursing and ScotDocs businesses provide services across the country, and Derek manages five depots and 150 people for Scotch Frost. The duo shared their experiences at a Focus Dinner, and the learning outcomes for fellow Exchange members were significant.
For Amanda Boyle, Exchange director and CEO of the UK’s leading reward-based crowdfunding platform, Bloom VC, the key advice was not just around ensuring consistent systems and procedures across the business, but making sure that the systems and procedures take into account differing cultures in different locations.
“Managing two sites successfully is more challenging than managing 20,” said Amanda, “Since that’s when all the learning is done. Systems and procedures are essential to maintaining consistency but they must be sensitive to cultural variations.
“And you need to trust your initial instincts about hiring and firing, if it doesn’t feel right, circumstances will conspire to prove you right.”
David Beal of the Beal Group took away a number of key points specifically relevant to his industry, manufacturing.
• People are the key point in a multi-site operation, irrespective of it being 2 sites or 20.
• A good firm set of procedures is vital, as is employee training – both at site and head office.
• Initial and continuing training is essential.
David also saw the value in quality and frequent communications between site staff and head office. “Visits from a variety of individuals from senior management to site are a good way of getting a varied opinion of the site’s performance.”
Feedback from other attendees also gave an insight into what was relevant across a number of different industry sectors.
“Giving staff share options is not always necessary to get full buy-in, other options such as making them a director can achieve the same level of staff engagement – very important to have the blue-print and processes in place very consistently applied staff ratios 10% management, 10% admin staff is good rule of thumb.”
“Employ motivated people who actually are interested in the business and want to work for the business as opposed to people who have the correct skills, but could be demotivating to other staff. Skills can be taught easier than attitudes. Form a company culture and keep this throughout your other sites. Give site managers support without taking over. Give praise where it is due.”
“Key tips for me – systems, procedures and management structures are essential”
You can read biogs for Ann Rushforth and Derek Loudon here