Relocating a business is never an easy decision. From the costs of the logistics involved, to the immediate disruption of your business operations, there are so many factors involved in moving your office that the decision should never be taken lightly.
Often, however, business relocation decisions are necessary. For example, one of the most common reasons for moving is a need to lower operational costs. These costs can vary dramatically from one location to another, while overhead expenditure alone can determine whether or not a business is profitable each month. Alternatively, another reason why companies may need to move is that they are growing in size, and need to accommodate this surge in growth.
Regardless of your need to up sticks and set up somewhere else – be it around the corner or in an entirely different country – it's essential to have a strategy in place before moving. To help, here are five things that you need to bear in mind when relocating your business:
1. Clarify Whether You Want to Rent or Buy
As with any business location strategy, one of the first crucial decisions you need to make is whether to rent premises or become the owner of your target property.
There are, of course, pros and cons to each approach. The primary benefit of renting, for instance, is that your initial expenses will be less (versus purchasing). You also benefit from greater flexibility and the ability to move as and when you wish.
However, while owning the premises does tie you down, the main advantage is that you end up paying out less in the long run. Further, you also benefit from any appreciation in the value of the property.
If you want complete control over the property, such as additions or renovations, then buying is the best option. Alternatively, if you're not interested in maintenance duties and wish to retain your mobility, then renting may be the better choice. Either way, establish which approach aligns with your business goals and which best suits your needs.
2. Research the New Location
When moving up – or, indeed, downgrading – it can be tempting to focus on cost and little else. However, your company's physical location can have a direct impact on your success or failure. Therefore, you should know as much as possible about your potential new home.
Where you are based can have an impact on how you are perceived as a business and a brand. If you are seeking to reposition your brand, then relocating to a more prominent location based on your specific type of business is ideal.
For instance, if you are in retail, you will want to be in a location with high visibility such as a shopping mall or a high street, as this is where there are more traffic and higher footfall. You will also need to consider whether or not you should be near your competitors, which can work very well for some companies (but not all).
Alternatively, if you are a financial services firm, then relocating to a major business district or city will demonstrate your contribution to the high growth culture of the region. Likewise, if you are in design, marketing or a similarly creative industry, then your location will influence perceptions of how innovative your business is.
Retaining your customers and being in a favourable position for growth is your key priority, and your chosen location can have a significant influence on this. You should aim to be located as close as possible to your clients and customers, and with competition getting increasingly more onerous by the day, you don't want to give them a reason to consider doing business elsewhere.
3. Know What You Need From Your Premises
The next step is to define what type of property you will need, such as an office block, or a retail, industrial or trade park. Other aspects to take into account include accessibility, staff and customer parking, and storage. Even the finer details such as air conditioning and ceiling heights will need to be considered, as well as Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings that can influence your property-based outgoings.
If you need to upscale to a bigger property, then a good rule of thumb is eight to 12 square metres per person for a commercial office space. Think about design, too. What will be more conducive to your working environment: open plan or closed office rooms? Is there a kitchen and meeting area for your employees? How advanced is the tech infrastructure, or will work need to be done? All of these factors need to be taken into consideration when looking at potential locations.
This is also a great time to think about the impact of the potential building on your company culture, as moving offices can positively affect this. Creating a positive commercial space helps to retain employees, attract creative talent, attract clients and cultivate a strong sense of collective identity amongst staff.
4. Consider Your Budget
Where is your business now, and where do you want it to be in the future? Will this move help you to achieve your future goals? Will you be saving money? How long will it take you to recoup the costs of moving?
Costs to factor in include solicitors, agents and designer's fees, as well as taxes, licenses, security features and deposits for utilities. Your budget will also need to account for telephone and broadband, as well as delivery costs and any new furniture.
You will also need to consider building and decorating work of both your new and old building. Liability for dilapidations on your existing property may mean you have to pay to restore it to its original condition. As such, you should have a clear idea of how much each part of the process will cost.
5. Be Organised
If you've got 12 months to plan a move, then this is an excellent timeframe to work around. However, if you have less time than this, then the pressure will inevitably be more considerable.
Having a set deadline in place will help you to get everything done more efficiently, and will give you and your team something to work towards. Once everything is in place, ensure the timing of your move is carefully planned; according to Karren Skillings, Principle at Skillings Education, a successful relocation is "90% planning and 10% delivery".
Be sure to organise key documents, consistently communicate with your employees about the move, and create move-related workflow strategies with management.
As the time nears, you will also need to source and secure vendors (such as movers, trucks, boxes and cleaners), select loading and unloading locations and begin packing. Try to avoid moving at the busiest times of the year for your business, as you will still need to function during the moving process.
Moving offices can be timely and costly, so make sure it will be worth your while before signing on the dotted line. Yes, there are many things to take into consideration, but by having a plan in place, you will keep your costs to a minimum while ensuring your business doesn't suffer in the long run.
What other tips would you give for relocating your business? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below.