Digital Challenges For Multi-Location Companies

Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Every office has a tendency to become an ecosystem. The more stable the ecosystem is, the better the company tends to do. Everyone develops a way of working together, knows who to turn to for advice, and who to shy away from if they seem to be in a bad mood. It’s also easier to be the boss of a particular office where you can spend your time chasing tasks you know need accomplishing, and who can help you to achieve the best results.

If you get to the point where your business expands into multiple locations, then maintaining your knowledge of each ecosystem can be problematic. You will likely be based in one area a head office with multiple offshoots dotted around the city, state or country. You’re the spider in the middle of the web. Getting to this stage is a sign of a functioning business that is thriving with the excitement about the future, but it’s also complicated

As the boss, you’re an outsider to any office that isn’t your permanent base. That’s less than ideal. It means that you’re out of the daily loop, trusting someone else to run the everyday workings of the company. All the while, you’re still responsible for the vision of where the company as a whole is going.

That means you’re still responsible for any of the efforts that unite the company. Even if you don’t necessarily have constant experience of each office, you need to have an idea of what each office is doing. That’s tough enough, but then you have to think about managing the overall digital space of all your offices. This is even tougher still.

Managing this area is essential for surviving as a boss of a multi-location business.

How Many Websites Do You Need?
Let’s keep it simple to begin with and imagine you’ve got two offices; one in New York and one in California. They work in exactly the same way, offer the same services, and practice under the same name.

So: are they going to have a website each? Or are you just going to have one central website, which can then direct people to the relevant office?

It’s a big decision, and there’s a number of pros and cons to consider.

Separate Websites: Pros

  • Each office has its own distinct digital space. This means that if one office wants a business blog and one doesn’t – for example – then there’s no treading on each other’s toes.
  • You can hand over control of the digital space of an office you rarely visit, entrusting it into the hands of staff who know it and its ecosystem well.

Separate Websites: Cons

  • You’re paying twice for largely the same thing. That’s two domain names, two marketing campaigns, double the amount of webspace – it’s not the most cost-effective idea.
  • If you hand over control of one site to an office you don’t attend often, there’s a chance they might do something with the site that you’re not comfortable with. It might be badly written or have broken images. You can check these remotely of course, but running a business is tough – sometimes, you’re going to forget, especially without the constant reminder of actually being in that office.

One Website For Multiple Offices: Pros

  • It’s simple and streamlined. Everything is in one place, and you don’t need to worry about anyone doing anything at a distant office that you don’t approve of.
  • It’s more cost beneficial, as you just need one set of everything rather than doubling up the costs.

One Website For Multiple Offices: Cons

  • The SEO can be difficult for multiple offices. A huge number of users find local businesses through Google searches, which means that one website appealing to multiple locations can be tricky. You’ll need to commit to a great SEO company who can help you navigate this.
  • It can be confusing for some users, though being clear about your multiple offices in the header section of the website can help to counter this.

Realistically, a single website covering each office is the best bet. This method has its cons of course, but they can be overcome with clever strategy and a simple, uncluttered website design.  

How Many Social Media Channels Do You Need?
Any business worth its salt is going to be active on social media. Not only can it help bring new clients to your business, but it also helps remind existing customers that you exist. It’s vital.

However, the same question repeats itself: do you need just one set of social media platforms that unite all of your offices? Or do you need separate Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. accounts for each location?

Unlike the website option, this one is far simpler: you probably need separate social media accounts.

For one thing, this means you can participate in local social media groups for each location; using local business hashtags and being involved in the community.

It means that your social media usage can be more engaging, too. Going back to the first example of New York and California offices. The New York account could Tweet: “crazy winter weather we’re having here! How are you keeping warm?”. This is one of the best ways to grab engagement from customers, helping to keep you in their mind. Of course, if you have a centralized account and southern Californians (and their year-round sunshine) read that… well, it’s going to look silly.

In Conclusion
Managing a digital presence of a multi-location business isn’t easy. You’re going to have to trust other people and hire in companies to help you specialize, which takes a lot of time and effort.

However, it’s very much worth it. The digital age has meant a business’ online presence is almost as important as their offline one. Managing this is possible if you remember:  Ensure each office has a member of staff, deep in the ecosystem, to coordinate their social media. Your company website, however, should serve all offices.

 

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