Expanding your business to multiple locations is an exciting step, but it comes with new challenges. Suddenly, you’ll need to juggle inventory in multiple locations, and it will take some new methods to make sure you always have your product where you need it. If you keep these common pitfalls in mind, you’ll be able to spend more time with the parts of your business about which you’re properly passionate.
As you expand, likely one of the first pain points you’ll notice is the increasing difficulty of coordinating your shipments and materials between multiple locations. This only gets worse if you have custom orders that need to be matched to specific customers. While just-in-time manufacturing is rapidly becoming the standard, you shouldn’t push for zero warehousing inventory right away. Allow time to develop best practices, and until then, accept the overhead costs of maintaining a standing inventory in a few locations as part of the cost of expansion. It may also be the case that a just-in-time model doesn’t fit your business needs.
You might think that if you aren’t explicitly in the chemical business, hazardous material regulations are unlikely to affect you, but in fact, many substances common in all industries fall under these regulations. Gasoline and propane, for instance, need to be stored safely to avoid fires. Failing to comply with these regulations creates an unsafe work environment and carries heavy fines in most jurisdictions. A packaging consulting firm can help you identify what parts of your supply chain need to be compliant with which state and federal regulations, freeing you up to focus on the operation of your business.
A surprising consequence of leaving the confines of a single brick-and-mortar location is that suddenly the conditions outside your store will start mattering more. Sure, rainy days aren’t great for your one-location retailer either, but if you have materials and products being coordinated between multiple locations, weather can become a major external disruption to your supply lines. This is another reason to maintain standing inventory in a few locations, but it’s also important simply to stay abreast of the weather as it develops and be flexible with your logistics, utilizing secondary routes if necessary and preparing for shortages that may be unavoidable.
Ultimately you want to be focused on your business, not on your logistics. By preparing yourself for some common logistics issues ahead of time, you can free yourself up to stay engaged with the parts of your business you care most about.