Lessons in Remote and Satellite Operations Learned by Scaling as a Technology Company 

BY: Daniel Parzivand 

As we’ve observed over the course of the last 20 months living with the reality of the global pandemic, some businesses and professionals have been able to thrive and far exceed expectations in this volatile situation. On the other hand, other businesses unfortunately folded under the pressure of updated restrictions and shifting market demands. During this tumultuous time, SetSchedule recognized that, thankfully, we’d be one of the companies poised to thrive. Since the beginning of 2021, SetSchedule has now established satellite operations in TWO locations, and I had the immense pleasure of being intimately involved in those processes, physically traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa and Plano, Texas. Here are the lessons I was able to learn while living out of suitcases and struggling against time zones that you can apply if you’re thinking of setting up remote offices to protect your business against unforeseen circumstances:   

Track Trends to Identify Ramp Up Time   

When you’re getting ready to set up satellite operations, the most pressing question you may have is “how long will it take for this location to be successfully established?” I know I was definitely itching to return as quickly as possible when I first learned of our operations roll out in South Africa. I figured that the process would take a month or two max: after all, new trainees that start in the Irvine headquarters typically only need a week or so to adjust – boy, was I in for a rude awakening. As we wrapped up the second week of training where we would traditionally consider new team members fully trained and ready to start meeting key performance indicators (KPIs), I realized that this team would need to have a more gradual ramp up period with additional training and strategy discussions before this location would be able to stand on its own. I felt frustrated because I had no idea how much longer we would want to have the “adjustment period” before we could realistically hold these team members to the KPIs. I then realized that getting a training class ready and able to perform in South Africa is a completely different ballgame when compared to setting up in Irvine. So, we started from the ground up, carefully tracking metrics related to success: time spent on the phone, number of appointments set, and so on. After two weeks of this tracking, it was a lot easier to project the necessary ramp up time based on the improvement observed week over week. From here, we were able to create a realistic timeline to reach the performance levels we knew these team members would be able to reach. This allowed us to make sure we could plan for sufficient support during the initial period, and begin scaling that down once we could observe the right level of performance. We were then able to take this same approach in Texas, eliminating uncertainty in the length of ramp up time to project. 

Make Adjustments by Leveraging Established Team Members  

Depending on the geographical location you decide to expand into, you’ll encounter new obstacles that you may not be able to overcome if you only use the resources in your recently established locale. No man is an island, and no office needs to be either when you’re expanding. In South Africa, we encountered an issue where potential SetSchedule partners didn’t feel comfortable discussing their business with South African representatives because they didn’t believe the representatives would have the necessary knowledge about the US real estate market to advise them properly. After identifying this issue, we realized that the South Africa representatives should clearly explain they are specially trained as product specialists, fully able to understand the intricacies of the system, but any questions relating to the location of interest would need to be addressed by a US based representative. Now, if a potential SetSchedule partner voices concerns or questions regarding the system, the South African representatives explain that those questions will be addressed by transferring the call to a US based representative, but not before completing the conversation and addressing any questions relating specifically to the platform. In the US, when the Texas office was being set up, we tapped a handful of senior team members in the Irvine headquarters to assist, even assigning one of them to act as a remote sales manager. A large part of remote operations is allocating sufficient resources, and established employees who have completed their training can be an invaluable resource if utilized the right way. 

Find your Groove with Remote Management 

Once you start making inroads in your satellite locations, there are a handful of considerations that can ensure your new locations continue to grow and perform well, namely focusing on communication, company culture, and self-sufficiency. One of your primary goals in your remote location should be delegation of management and training responsibilities by dedicating sufficient time and resources to developing leadership capabilities in selected remote team members. It should be obvious, but you do not want to rush into this process with team members at random – take the time to select team members who have the drive, passion, and shared vision for your organization. If you’re too hasty and dive into the process with any team members, you may find yourself going through this process more than once, or finding that the training and delegation process is taking much longer than it should. Establishing deputies in your new location will allow you to set up processes and procedures so that location can act autonomously without as much time and attention on your part. However, you need to be careful not to neglect these new locations, even after establishing managers and trainers in the new location. Incorporate your remote offices in your overall team building events, meetups, contests, and culture. Enable real-time communication throughout your organization and make it a point to discuss employee excitement and engagement when reviewing with the designated location managers.  

Setting up a remote location can be a daunting task, but when you go about it the right way, you’ll benefit your business through diversified operations and locations. You’ll lower the likelihood of suspended operations over things like technical glitches or contagious illnesses, and you’ll boost your ability to capture more business through new strategies and approaches as you fine tune your operations.   

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