How to Move Business Premises Hassle Free
Moving premises can cause significant disruption to your business if handled improperly. Here’s how to manage the process smoothly
When moving premises, once you have chosen where you wish to move, the next step is to conduct the move itself.
You may have moved house before and be well aware of the stress and cost this entails; when moving office premises, this time-consuming legwork can be increased tenfold.
Moving premises will always be a disruptive time. But you can minimise the cost and disruption to your business by meticulously planning the move well in advance. Follow the below guidance to ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible.
How do I plan the move?
Moving office premises should never be a spur-of-the-moment process. You need to plan well in advance for the move to be a success – ideally, this should be at least half a year in advance or more.
To put the groundwork in place for the big move, take the following number of steps:
- Put together a detailed timetable for the move.
Draw up timescales and likely completion dates for the main stages of the move, including the legal change of address, when you expect to hire a removal contractor, and when you expect to have telecoms and other infrastructure set up. Be generous with your estimates, as complications and delays will inevitably arise. Leave the moving date itself flexible and contingent on the other stages of the project being completed.
- Draw up a draft budget.
Include all the costs to your business that the move will entail. This will include the cost of any disruption to sales or other business activity, of moving and removal contractors, the potential cost of upgrading or replacing equipment or wether you need to recruit more staff or actually make redundancies.
- Check the terms of your existing lease.
This may seem obvious, but is often overlooked – how long are you tied into your current contract for? Try and plan the move so you are not stuck paying rent on an empty office.
- Assemble a move team.
You should give one employee – the move coordinator – overall responsibility for the move. They should have responsibility for contacting all the relevant people involved in the process and assigning duties to the other team members.
- Schedule regular meetings with the move team to keep tabs on progress.
Try and involve the removal contractors in these meetings if possible.
Should I involve employees in the move?
Consulting all your staff about the move isn’t just recommended – it’s the law.
If you fail to tell people about the move and its implications, you risk breaching their employment contracts and becoming liable for constructive dismissal and other breaches of employment law.
In order to comply with the law, you should consult your employees and explain the reasons for the move.
Make sure to keep them up to date with regular briefings and check their contracts for a mobility clause.
If your staff have a mobility clause in their contract, you can move where they work without their consent as long as the request is ‘reasonable’.
If no such clause exists, moving them will breach their contract of employment unless they consent.
Be sure to tread carefully around redundancy as you cannot let go workers just because you are moving premises – unless you are moving so far away that it would be unreasonable for them to travel to the new location.
If you are moving so far away that it would be unreasonable to expect them to relocate, you will normally have to offer employees a redundancy package in line with the law.
Finally, compensate employees for the move.
If you change location, your staff may experience significant upheaval – for example, they may have to move house or change their mode of travel. Be sensitive to this and offer them financial compensation.
How do I maintain my relationships with customers and suppliers?
Notifying your customers and suppliers well in advance of the move is essential, as you may lose business if people cannot find your new address.
Make the changeover as seamless as possible by following these steps:
- Send a notice of change of address to all your customers and suppliers.
Explain the reasons for the move, and include a map and exact address so people know where to find you. If you are moving because your business is going well and you have outgrown your old office, use the change of address to spread the word about how well you are doing generally.
- Change address details in promotional and marketing material.
If you have a back catalogue of printed promotional material with your old address on, it may be more cost-effective to order stickers with your new address on.
- Look through your files and accounts to find other bodies to contact.
In addition to customers and suppliers, you will need to contact your bank, insurers, HMRC, and other authorities. Look through your files and note down anyone you have had contact with in the last few years.
- Change stationery and email signatures to show your new address.
It is worth drawing attention to the new address in letterheads by telling the reader to note you have moved address recently.
- Give someone responsibility for maintaining a seamless transition.
More generally, you should give someone the specific task of keeping customer service and response levels up to their usual standard.
How should I transfer services to my new address?
Contact your phone and broadband providers and ask them how you can move your services over to the new premises with the minimum of disruption and how long this will take.
Ask if you can keep your old phone number, or at the very least, how you can redirect calls from your old number to your new one.
Arrange for utilities to be cut off and settle final bills. (It’s important to do this at least two weeks in advance.)
Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to read meters yourself and check the numbers against the readings your utility providers say they have.
Arrange mail redirection by using Royal Mail’s Business Redirection service to ensure correspondence sent to your old address reaches your new one. Prices start from £350 per year.
Finally, tell your insurer about the move and arrange or amend any insurance you need to.
How do I move and fit my business equipment when moving premises?
The process of moving and fitting your business’ equipment can cause your business significant disruption and expense if managed improperly.
To ensure this situation does not occur, you’ll need to make sure you take care of a few things.
Firstly, visit the new premises and draw up a configuration plan for equipment. Look around your new office and note the locations of power outlets, telephone connections, desks, windows and other equipment. From this, draw up a detailed plan showing where exactly everything will go and consider whether you will need to buy or upgrade any equipment.
Secondly, create a business continuity plan for IT. You will need to work out how you can keep IT and telecoms systems (especially network servers) running during the move, accounting for any unexpected occurrences that may cause downtime. It might be a good idea to assign responsibility to a specific person for this, as it is a critical area. Some removal companies offer an IT relocation service, or you could approach a specialist IT relocator.
Finally, work out whether your new premises will need to be altered. In particular, consider whether you need to add new power outlets or telephone wall units in specific locations. You will almost certainly need consent from your landlord to make any changes.
What do I need to know when hiring a removal contractor?
You will almost certainly need to hire a removal contractor in order to manage the move. To choose the right one, follow these steps:
Write up a specification for the contractor. Your specification should list, both your address (old and new), exactly what has to be moved, when it needs to be moved by and whether you need IT relocation or other specialist services.
Compile quotes from different contractors. Approach several different removal contractors and ask for detailed quotes (with cost breakdowns) so you can find the best deal. Ask for references and testimonials.
Insure all property against loss and breakage during the move. The removal contractors themselves may offer insurance cover as part of their cost.
Visit both sets of premises with the removal companies. Work out where items will be loaded and unloaded, how timings will work out, where the removal vans will park (it should be the contractor’s job to arrange this) and the number of boxes and crates you will need and where they will be collected after the move is completed
Write down detailed move instructions with the contractor. This should set out what should be moved and when, and include contingency plans for when something goes wrong.
What should be in my move instructions?
- A labelling system: Devise a system for labelling crates and items according to where they will go in the new premises. You could use a colour-coding system or a number-based system (e.g. 3.4 might mean third floor, room four). Provide the removers with a map of the premises showing exactly how the coding system works.
- A filing system: If files and items belong in a particular cabinet, mark both the sheaf of files and their corresponding cabinet location clearly (e.g. Cabinet 5, middle drawer).
- Plans for moving IT equipment and machinery: Ensure cables and wires are taped to the equipment they will be used with. They should be marked to show what goes where.
- How removal containers will be handled: Work out who will actually pack the removal containers, and when and where they will be collected.
- A move schedule: Plan exactly what will be collected first and what order it will be placed in the new premises. The general rule is you fill a building from the top down.
How do I manage the move on the day?
If you have planned your move according to the instructions above, the day of the move should be a (relatively) simple process.
For the day to go even more smoothly, dispose of any unneeded files and materials before the day of the move. Burn or shred sensitive or confidential material. This simply means you won’t have to move as much.
Many hands make light work so draw up a detailed rota. Work out where people need to be at what times, and when employees should turn up at the new site to unpack.
Finally, tie up loose ends at your old site. Hand over the keys and make sure the place is clean and in good order for whoever moves in next.