Organizing a commercial relocation is far more complicated than planning a residential move. For one thing, it isn’t just you and your family, the move impacts more people, and those people are trying to work while the relocation is taking place. Changing the office or retail location must be managed with precision, and you need an experienced, professional commercial mover to assist you in the process.
The first thing is to start the planning process early, including the move project plan and the search for a commercial moving company. You will find that most commercial movers have project management services available for you, depending on the size of the move you are preparing for. They might assist with floor plan design and layout, vendor coordination, asset preparation, and liquidation of excess material if needed. Often, you are left with a messy pile of cords, paper, and obsolete electronics at the conclusion of an office move. The moving vendor may be able to wrangle that for you.
With any significant move, once you know it’s coming, get started on the planning. Talk to colleagues who have recently made similar moves about what company they hired for support and consider using them. Ask the realtor or leasing agent who helped you find your new space or the property manager for the office or retail location you are moving into. An office move might be difficult compared to an apartment move, but simple relative to a scientific laboratory, a hospital, or a specialty restaurant. It’s wise to ask for referrals from your competitors and others in the industry who may have good or bad experiences you can benefit from. You probably want to find a moving company that has experience with the specific type of move you are planning. You not only have to manage the timeline but protect potentially delicate or hazardous machinery from harm. You need to identify a moving company with the appropriate expertise and any required regulatory certifications.
If you are moving an office-based business, you may not need a specialist, but that doesn’t mean the move is simple. You may be taking responsibility for this move in addition to your regular work, or as a special project. Or perhaps you are moving your own company into a larger space as you have outgrown your current office or retail home. In any case, you have competing demands on your time and likely want to get the job done with as little disruption as possible.
Again, the moving company you choose may be able to help. When you are interviewing firms, ask them about any resources they can provide. They may have templates you can use for things like seating, floor layout, even communications to your employees and vendors. With most office environments, there is a lot more to do than pack up and move. You must consider the new space’s layout (even more critical these days) and individual team considerations and preferences. Most likely, if your organization is sizable, you will have some approval process to go through and perhaps several levels to gain before completion. Inevitably, there will be changes between the time the plan is made, and the time the move is completed.
Keep your move plan on a spreadsheet called a move matrix. You can use the employee’s identifying information, current location, and destination (once determined). This data can be copied to a floorplan, either paper or virtual, during the planning stages. It’s beneficial to have all the equipment associated with each employee on that matrix for reference.
Usually, a good office mover will supply used boxes, starting a couple of weeks before moving. The timing depends on the size of the move and your preference. The mover will discuss a labeling scheme with you, again depending on the scope. Usually, each employee is instructed to box up everything in their workspace when business is stopping on the day of the move (most office moves are timed to take place after business hours, but not always) and label it for delivery to the new space. In a large project, you might want to stage the move in shifts so that some workers stop earlier than others, allowing the information technology team to begin removing computers and phones (if applicable) and the movers to start loading up boxes.
If your business is small, and this move is a celebratory event, you may want to call a halt to work and treat the end of the business day as a party—after all, it is your success that has led to the need for a larger space for the team. This distraction serves the dual purpose of getting everyone out of the movers’ way while they load up.
It’s always a good idea to have the employees visit the new space in advance of the move if possible. Most people like to have a mental image of where they are going and feel more comfortable if they have had a walk-through before they show up for the first day of work at the new location. Floor plans with names are helpful if the space is large, and greeters who can point people in the right direction will speed people on the way to their new seats.
Moving a store offers different challenges. In some ways, it is easier because you don’t have the seating and storage concerns that accompany an office relocation. The larger issue with moving a retail business is publicizing the event to the customers and hoping that they will follow to the new location. Fortunately, the move itself is likely to be accomplished during the off-hours, and you can have a moving sale to reduce the bulk of what has to be moved. Picking and setting up a new space is a terrific chance to correct any design flaws and create a good flow. Learn from any issues you had in the previous layout and identify a new property that lets you solve any previous problems.
Most moving companies are small employers. Some movers are independent, genuinely small companies, often with fewer than five employees. Others are small local organizations affiliated with a larger national chain, either as an agent or a franchisee. Unless you are planning an international dispatch, any type is acceptable. What matters is that the company you engage for your move has the resources to complete your activity when you need it done and the experience with the kind of equipment (if applicable) that your job entails. No matter what size mover you consider, check their references. Ask for contact information for some of their recent clients and talk to those customers. Ask for the good and bad parts of their experience and any tips on what they would do differently. One suggestion is to ask the reference for the names of the people they worked with. It’s a good sign if the workers they speak highly of are still there.