Growing Pains - Starting a Remote Location
It’s a familiar feeling
for a lot of people. You have grown your business to the point
that the travel time to service your customers is affecting your
company’s productivity, or you want to expand into a new
county or state. You know how to find the right location that
is near major roads, has good utilities (phone and electrical
service), but how do you expand the office activities without
losing control, or running at a loss until the operation is up
This is a big job for a company
- it is as difficult as hiring and training your first employee.
There is no trick to success in this venture, except vigilance
and hard work. However, there are some guidelines and tools you
can use to help minimize any problems.
The first is to establish good
communications between the remote location and your main office.
Land-line phone, backup cell service and high-speed internet access
is a minimum to get started. If you want, you can have the phone
service put the remote phone on your hunt group and, if all your
phones are busy in the office, the phone will ring in the remote
Computer access to the main office
can be implemented by using Windows XP-Pro and Remote Desktop
Connection. This works great, it’s cheap and supports printing
at both the main office and the remote location. You can find
this installed on your system in \Programs\Accessories\Communications\Remote
Desktop Connection. This is the part you run at the remote site.
The host site is turned on in the Control Panel using the System
icon, select Remote tab. If you are a using a router, the magic
port number is 3389 (this is the default).
Pay attention – the objective
is to make sure that each employee at the remote location knows
that you are interested in the operation and want it to be successful.
Some simple things you can do are:
Have someone at the remote location
take digital photos of all personnel. Do the same with the inside
and outside of all vehicles, and store the images in a dated directory
at the main office. You can view the images by changing the view
on the directory to view thumbnails. When you click on the thumbnail
image, you see the full picture of the person or vehicle.
Have each truck cleaned at least
once a week - a steam cleaner and 2 hours OT should cover the
labor. The point you are making is that the vehicles are important
to you and you are concerned. You will be pleasantly surprised
on your reduced maintenance costs.
Track and report daily production
activities. This can be as simple as recording miles, units serviced,
sites serviced, hours, and downtime on a single line per driver,
and this should be posted with running averages at least once
a week. It is best if you can track actual productivity numbers
for your business. Cans, if commercial waste, units serviced,
gallons pumped, boxes delivered and, of course, problems like
downtime hours, missed services, etc.
You can staff the location with
a part-time clerk for AM hours or a lead driver to handle day-to-day
administration, but when you or your site coordinator arrives,
make sure you bring good news, a clean truck award, safety award,
production award, increased sales award, etc., as you want your
visits to be associated with good news. Otherwise, you will never
hear about any problems.
If you want to try an interesting
experiment, go home and say only nice things to your significant
other or kids and then touch them on the shoulder. After a week
or so, stop and they will likely ask what is wrong. It is the
same with remote locations. You may want to skip the touch, though.
The majority of your employees
want to make your company a success. You simply need to communicate
what that success means!