Business relocation

Making any kind of move is always known to be stressful and moving your business when you have staff, clients, and finances all taking an equal priority in your planning, can seem overwhelmingly stressful.

However, researching your options and considering all the pros and cons of the move can help you make informed choices which will reduce stress considerably and additionally help you towards the right decision for your staff, your business, and yourself. So what should you consider?

Commonly cited benefits of relocating a business (large or small) include:

  • Accessing a wider or more skilled labor and workforce – for example by moving to a university city with a high level of graduates relevant to your sector, as a way of accessing a skilled workforce.
  • The need to establish in a relevant quarter, such as locating your boat building business closer to a newly established marina complex.
  • To upgrade facilities and accommodation, particularly if you are expanding a relatively new business.
  • To lower costs, such as rent and overheads – as a result of a downturn in profits or because profits are being redirected for a time and overheads need to be reduced to accommodate new product development.
  • To move closer to the relevant target market or future prospects, including relocating to an area where public footfall is greater or where the premises offer greater accessibility for clients.
  • In response to the competition – this may mean moving closer to the competition in order to establish your business with the network, for example, many town centers have a whole street of estate agents. Alternatively, you may decide to move to an area where there is less competition in order to establish yourself as a new service to the area.

Additionally, relocating by taking a business into a regeneration area can be a beneficial move for a company that is looking to grow with only a shoestring budget as government subsidies or tax breaks can really help to boost funds as well as prospects.

However, along with the positives, there are always negative aspects that need careful consideration when weighing up the potential effects of relocating your business. The costs to your business of relocating could include:

  • Outlay – the literal costs of relocation, including any loss of revenue through reduced sales or lack of productivity during the move, plus the actual costs of removals and storage.
  • Any change of workforce which includes the emotional costs of upset or bad feeling.
  • The costs of additional services, such as recruiting additional technical support to get IT and communications devices online quickly after the move.
  • Loss of goodwill and some clients who may find the new location inconvenient or inaccessible.

If you actually have a location in mind during your research and planning stage, then it’s also worth considering the different community dynamics. For example, swapping from a rural to a city location and vice versa can have a real impact on business, so research is needed first to make sure that the new location is right for the business.

Practical factors

Once decisions have been made, practical factors need to be considered to help relocation take place in cost-effective ways that offer minimum stress for all involved. Practical aspects should firstly include considering your daily operations and company calendar, which can influence when the move is scheduled – for example an accountancy service wouldn’t consider moving around Springtime when there’s a demand for tax return support, whilst retailers would want to avoid Christmas and key sales times. Once you have identified the best time of year to move:

  • Create a timeline in collaboration with key colleagues, to allow everyone some input and invite fresh perspectives on how the move can be managed with minimal disruption.
  • Appoint a project co-ordinator to be a point of contact with your removals company and to manage preparations, for example arranging the utility services or organizing permits for staff parking at the new premises.
  • Think ahead not just in respect of time, but in respect of what’s at the other end. Plan ahead for essential purchases, installations, or re-fits which may need to be in place prior to the move. This includes IT and communications technology and any hiring of additional, temporary staff or contractors to assist with dismantling or setting up.
  • Allow for taking down, packing up, cleaning up, and setting up at the other end, including scheduling packing time for employees with minimum interruption from clients.

Once you have a date to work towards, prepare for the actual move by engaging your removals and storage services:

  • Use your timescales to help you identify how long you might need to use storage facilities for and consider the cost-effectiveness of using a professional storage service with no hidden extra costs and flexible timelines. This way, if there is a problem with the move or if it goes so smoothly that off-site storage isn’t needed for as long as anticipated, then changes can be made with minimal cost.
  • Try to identify items that need to go into storage in the short term or be archived for the long-term early on in the planning stages. Storage4Boxes can collect boxes on an ad-hoc or as-and-when basis as convenient, so getting some of these items out of the way can be helpful with overall planning and phases of the move.
  • The more boxes needed for storage, the cheaper it can be, so consider the economies of putting the majority of items into storage during the move as this can be more cost-effective than trying to scrimp on storage at the cost of goodwill with staff or inconvenience of the move ending up taking longer because of the quantities of boxes to be shifted or the potential for health and safety issues by having too many boxes around at one time.

When considering practicalities, remember too that communication with staff is important practicality that should not be overlooked:

  • Keep staff informed with regular updates, progress reports, and responsibilities.
  • Give staff updates about the move’s impact on their working routines, such as extra hours for packing or setting up at the other end to reduce disruption to clients.
  • If necessary allocate packing tasks directly to named staff so that no vital items are left behind, accidentally dumped or lost.
  • Ensure that staff who are off sick, on annual leave, or on maternity leave are also accounted for and have their needs taken into consideration (for example by ordering storage boxes in early so that they can deal with their packing when they are in).
  • Consider how many staff are needed on moving day and try to keep staff numbers to a minimum to reduce health and safety issues.

The final important factor to consider is the technical services for your company – after all, it can be enough of a nightmare changing over the domestic broadband provider, but when your business relies on IT, the internet and electronics such as card readers and automated systems, the technical factor can have very practical implications. If necessary, store your hardware safely until you have the right professional support to reinstall your IT and get your business back up and running in your new location – at minimum cost to you and minimum inconvenience to your customers.

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