I was recently doing a coaching call with a dance studio owner and she was talking about how badly she wanted to expand to a second location. She was absolutely convinced that expansion was the RIGHT thing to do.
I completely AGREED with her. And, yet I STILL advised her NOT to do it.
Sound strange? Let me explain. You see, right things are not always right NOW things.
And, the right thing at the wrong time is always a wrong thing.
Unfortunately, this is wisdom I learned myself the hard way. At one time I, too, wanted to expand to a second location. I FELT it was the right thing to do and even though I questioned the timing.
Long story short….it was a DISASTER for me and I closed that location after two years.
Right thing + wrong time = Wrong thing.
Feelings or Facts?
When I opened my second studio location, I FELT it was the right thing to do. The key word here is FELT. You can navigate a lot of business decisions on instinct, but expansion is not one of them. Expansion requires FACTS. What are the numbers? Are you really out of space? You may have waiting lists on ten classes, but have you filled all of the spaces in the other 50 classes you offer? Are the wait lists on your target market (baby classes) or are you feeling the squeeze in the older kids classes who will graduate soon? Know your facts.
Family Support or Family Feud?
Launching a second location takes a lot of extra TIME for a long period of time. If you have a family that means less of your attention for the immediate future. Does your family support the idea? In my case, my husband was NOT in support of the idea and I was pregnant with our second child. I ignored these two big red flags and pushed on in over-confidence saying, ”I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again!” The expansion was a strain on our family from day one.
You can reproduce programs in other locations, but you cannot reproduce yourself. I remember the day I realized that I could literally only be in one location at a time. Including the drive time and the new baby, I could literally only choose to visit one location per day. A successful expansion depends you, but a the operations will depend primarily on a well trained and equipped team.
Back to the Start-Up Grind
There are some efficiencies to be gained in running multiple locations, such as shared staff, but in reality, opening a second location will mean back to the start-up grind for you for a while. A new business is much like a baby–and it will require a lot of care before it can before it can be left alone. Be realistic about whether or not you have the energy to go back to those days.