Moving is hard. And when you have to move a company, it's even harder. Suddenly, there are more things, more people, and more services to be taken care of. More importantly, there is the risk of disrupting your business itself. I have moved my business 4 times in 14 years and learned some hard lessons along the way. Use these tips to move right and keep your company moving forward.
Build in a time cushion. Every entrepreneur's dream is to move from one space to another without having overlapping leases. Think of all that money you can save--and then think again. Moving without carrying two leases simultaneously is a dangerous game. What can happen? A lot. The current tenant in your new space might refuse to vacate. The brand new building you are so excited to inhabit might not be ready when the landlord thought it would be. Both happened to me, in very different stages of my business, and both could have been the downfall of my company. Lesson learned: set up your move so you have at least 3 months overlap on both spaces.
Finish construction first. Allowing construction in your space once you have occupied it might seem like not such a big deal. One bathroom is enough while you are waiting for the 2nd, right? Wrong. Build-outs, once you're in, are a hassle, and trying to run your business around the construction site can take its toll. Whether it's the electronic-destroying dust of drywall, the noise that your clients hear on all your outbound sales calls, or the complaints of your employees that there is no place to eat lunch, construction quickly becomes more than a nuisance. Lesson learned: choose a space "as-is" or wait for it to be 100% ready before you pull up with your moving trucks.
Get creative with how you pack. Moving companies often act like they know best, but no one knows your company better than you. Movers think in boxes--small, medium, large. But one-size box does not fit all. When we moved, we figured out that we could pack our bins without removing and boxing up our merchandise, just by shrink-wrapping them closed and putting the racks on dollies. It cut our packing time in half, kept our stock reachable until the night before the move, and made us operational the day after our arrival in our new digs. Lesson learned: before you call in any moving services for quotes, consider the best way to pack your business--it'll minimize both your moving expenses and your down time.
Move on a Friday or holiday weekend. It might not be fun to give your weekend to relocate, but the benefits far outweigh the downside. Picking up stakes on a Friday is optimal, because it leaves the weekend to deal with both unpacking and unexpected issues. Whether it's Sally's computer that got lost in the shuffle, a freight elevator that stops working midway through making the move take hours longer than anticipated, or internet service that doesn't boot up as planned, having those 2-3 extra days of non-customer facing days can provide room to reflect, repair and re-calibrate. Lesson learned: minimizing business downtime is a no-brainer, but building in recovery time to safeguard against unforeseen snafus is an important failsafe.
Make sure objects go directly to where they belong. Movers aren't just there to move your belongings, they are there to get your business from one place to another. Packing you up and dropping you off is not enough. Each time we have moved we have made careful floor plans of where things would be located in our new office, made corresponding numbers on all our boxes, and then--and this is the most important--we use painter's tape to mark the floor in the new space with both the location numbers and actual guidelines as to where furniture sits (think marking off the corners of desks, etc). This insures our stuff gets moved only once--to the exact right spot. Lesson learned: it takes a little longer to map the new space, but it makes arrival and re-ignition of your business that much smoother.
Have a back-up plan. Figure out in advance how you would operate your business if catastrophe struck. When we were unable to move on our planned upon date, we were really thankful for our VOIP phones that allowed our sales reps to remain operational while we figured out what to do with our stock. We were also happy that we had carefully backed-up our server before moving when one of the movers spilled water all over it as he was unwrapping it. Lesson learned: An ounce of forethought is worth a pound of regret.