Strategies to Undertake when Managing Distant Locations

The decision for where Black Tooth Brewing opened its additional locations was a pretty easy one for the brewery, said Jared Long.

“There’s not a lot of big population centers in Wyoming,” explained the company’s Director of Culture and Brewing Operations. Starting in Sheridan with a production spot, the brewery has added locations in Cheyenne and Casper, with each about a two-hour drive away from each other. Although they are similar, each location, Long said, has a distinct identity.

But, remote management is very difficult, he said … if not impossible.

“You need to plan to spend time at your additional locations,” Long said, indicating that his HQ is set in Sheridan, which is in northern Wyoming while other managers work out of the two other locations, but he still makes time to be at all three.

“If it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, and your employees are likely to be reflective of that in their practices,” he said. “One of the things we talk about at our brewery a lot is finding the right person for the right seat.”

READ MORE: When Does a Second Location Make Sense?

In the first expansion into Cheyanne, he said they had a wonderful hire that did an awesome job with just being on an island but making that place click.

“We were kind of under the naive assumption that when we opened our third location in Casper, we could just turn the keys over and all would go well,” Long said. “We kind of got our ass kicked.”

That helped the company set guidelines for these locations better and Long shared some of these at the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville.

“Communicating and setting clear expectations is a critical piece that you need,” Long said. “Model what you’d like to see at those additional locations, and then find the right people to run those locations.”

The importance of communication is key, he stressed.

“Understanding where everyone’s at and getting all on the same page is a critical piece of this,” Long said. To help in this, several years ago, Black Tooth adopted an Entrepreneurial Operating System. One of the components is they have weekly leadership meetings.

“We have representatives from each of the locations that sit on that board,” he explained. “We have reportable metrics. We have goals that we’re responsible for.”

There’s a piece in the meeting where they identify issues they discussed earlier and work to solve them.

“Getting all on the same page is a really critical piece of that,” he said. “We’re geographically pretty distant so it’s not easy for us to come together and spend time together. Having this structure in place where we can communicate is critical.”

Also, having the support of leadership is a really important piece as well.

“Having people in the right roles that can oversee these things will save you a lot of headaches,” he said.

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