Geographic Expansion Lessons Learned

CharlotteSkylineBelow is a summary I wrote after interviewing multiple partners at design firms related to their thoughts on what makes a branch office (geographic expansion) successful.  No rocket science here, just the summary of conversations with firm owners about what the keys are to a successful branch office.  What would you add to the list?  Post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Geographic Expansion Lessons Learned

Based on interviews with partners at design firms pertaining to office expansions.

Lessons Learned:

  1. The right person leading the charge is the most important factor in the success of a new branch office.
  2. Two key people are needed for a geographic expansion, a Rainmaker (someone that can bring new work in the door) and a Principal Designer.
  3. An expansion needs to be viewed in a positive light both from the new office, as well as the existing offices.  A geographic expansion should provide multiple people with opportunity for growth throughout the company.
  4. The right combination of people is the key ingredient to a successful geographic expansion.
  5. When a new office opens it is not “business as usual,” individuals opening a new office must be prepared to work 2-3 nights per week becoming involved in the local community and in the industry.
  6. Responsibility and autonomy for the new office must be given.  The individuals in that office need to feel as if it is their actions that will result in the success or failure of the office.
  7. Support staff is not critical for the establishment of a new office.
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4 Responses to “Geographic Expansion Lessons Learned”


  1. 1 Justin Jacobs January 28, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Agree on #1, but wanted to add that the ideal scenario is to have the “lead POC” of that office be both a Rainmaker AND the Principal Designer. It’s somewhat rare, but the most respected leaders that I have worked with possess both qualities.

  2. 2 Karen Jensen March 25, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Interesting article. It strikes me that the success of geographic expansion can be summed up with the importance of having the “right” or “key” people involved. Seems like that is often the tipping point between success and failure.

  3. 3 Wendy Kilbourne August 28, 2013 at 11:55 am

    I agree with Justin Jacobs. The right person needs to be both. And #6 is a must. A branch office, to be a successful startup, must drive an entreprenuerial spirit. And to sustain it, it must be left alone to create its own culture, obviously based on the foundation of the corporate culture.


  1. 1 Geographic expansion: What is really important? | Construction Marketing Ideas Trackback on November 30, 2013 at 7:52 am

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