After staffing, finding the right locations is the next most important aspect of expansion. Often, it's a matter of pinpointing the things about the original location that made it work and looking for other locales with similar features.
Wolf says once he'd opened a few dozen locations, he got to where he could quickly find the right spot in a new city. He wanted high-traffic sites in affluent neighborhoods with large numbers of families. With such a streamlined vision, "I can learn about any [small] city in two days, or a big city in a week," he says. Wolfe believes any good business idea ought to be easily transplanted to similar settings in other cities.
At the same time, Hoy warns against assuming that all similar locales are identical. Before expanding into an unfamiliar city, he suggests forging a relationship with a knowledgeable local who can help you navigate the new waters, whether it's at city hall or in the local ad outlets. And whenever expansion takes you across state lines, seek legal advice on how tax laws and other regulations differ from those in your home state.
Finally, Lacey reminds entrepreneurs who are looking to build chains that, as with raising children, each one is easier to handle than the ones that came before, if only because you're more experienced. Petr agrees. Now that he's built an infrastructure to support 17 stores and the three more he's planning, he says, "I don't see any limit to the number of stores we could have."
Gardner-Collier Jewelry, 111 W. Washington, Kirksville, MO 63501, (660) 665-3052
Milwaukee PC, 4160 S. 108th St., Greenfield, WI 53228, (414) 427-6965
Wolf Camera, (888) 644-9653, http://www.wolfcamera.com