Many architecture and engineering firms try to open branch offices. Some succeed while others fail. They walk into it, beaming with confidence, sword and shield in hand, assuming that what they see on the other side will be an opponent they are prepared to conquer.
In most cases they walk, ill-equipped, into battle against something new and unexpected, like a two-headed blood thirsty battle cat that hurls spears at your armor while whisking your legs out from under them with its lethal tail. Some adapt and conquer the beast while others are cut off at the knees and impaled in the throat.
Expanding your business, into more locations, is much like stepping into battle with an adversary that you are not prepared to defeat. There are A/E firms that have conquered these beasts. Every experience is unique, challenging, and rewarding. Here are six strategies learned along the way that have helped firms like yours be successful and grow in new locations:
Be true to your Core Values, Vision, and Strategic Plan. Assuming your opportunity and location is recognized, you must question your motives. For us this was a regular conversation. Revisit your values and mission, and make sure the new office is staying in line with the company culture and goals.
Expect battle wounds while establishing a new location. Battle wounds may come in the form of big costs, unexpected costs,and lost projects. We dodged and took several unexpected lashings while we established and grew our business. Keep your eyes open, press forward, and remember, from your current business experience, you can take a punch.
Know your battle plan and teammates. Progress and success will hinge on a well-executed revenue forecast and business development plan…without sacrificing profits! Inasmuch, your current financial and organizational business needs to be well organized and capitalized. Find a new financial teammate if your current group or institution is unwilling to grow with you.
Be different. Define success and growth on your own terms. You are successful, so act like it. You are good at what you do, so keep doing it. Who cares what your competition is doing!
Choose your weapon wisely. The person, or Champion, you identify for leading this new location may be one of the most important decisions you make. Our company invested quite a bit of time into this decision. Please don’t mess this up.
Appeal to everyone in the firm for this new endeavor. Tell your friends and close clients. Create positive commotion and chanting in the arena. This noise is a huge motivator and creates momentum for your Champion and the principals of the firm. This is an endeavor of the entire firm, not merely the leading individual.
Managing a branch office may be risky, but it does have ample rewards if done correctly. The question is: Are you ready to take the risk? These are complex challenges that require keen risk assessment coupled with proven solutions. PMSJ's complimentary ebook, Branch Optimization Strategies for the A/E Firm Leader can give you just that. From opening and valuing your branch to managing staff and business development, this is a go-to guide for branch office management success.
Ever wish you could avoid the mistakes of others when it comes to starting or growing an A/E/C branch office? Too many branch offices just limp along for architecture and engineering firms…and eventually close down. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! In PSMJ’s A/E/C Branch OfficeOptimization Strategies Roundtable, you get candid discussion, shared experiences, and data-driven insight on sustainable branch office growth. Come with questions… leave with action-oriented answers!
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