By Stanley Block
As I move my small business, I am overwhelmed by all the details. Relocating a business is not like moving your house which is, of course, challenging, but the nuances with moving office locations can be quite a bit more time consuming.
I am sure you have thought of the furniture and changing your stationery, but what about all those other things you have not foreseen? As I go through the process myself, I thought I would share my experience in hopes that it may save others some trouble.
Updating Your Branding
This means you update your stationery, order new promotional items like pens, water bottles, flash drives; and update your email signature, etc. Think about sending a free e-blast introducing your new brand to your potential, current and/or past clients. Don’t forget to update your local listings in the Yellow Pages, Yelp, and Google+. Get yourself out there and make sure your brand is visible; you don’t want your new brand to be a secret.
Getting the Word Out
Not only do you want to let new or potential clients know where to find you, but you also want to alert your existing customers of your move. An excellent way to do this is a free e-blast. Upload all your current client’s emails into a program or sent from your email server making sure to blind carbon copy so that no contacts can view anyone’s private email address. Set up a short letter telling them you will be moving. Additionally, I will have an open house for clients and business associates to get to know my new space. Often having a social event in your new office can bring about new business as well as make your clients feel at home and know that they are of value to you and your company.
Preparing for the Physical Move
Probably the hardest part of switching offices is the physical move. I have been in my office since the early eighties and have amassed quite the collection of “trinkets.” How do I put 35 years of business in a box, pick it up and move? It is overwhelming to say the least. The first suggestion I can give is start shredding. If you have an e-file for an older client, there is no sense in keeping the physical file. Get a scanner that can handle at least 20-30 pages at once. If you have the files on your computer and backup your computer, ditch all that paper!
Also, get several quotes from movers. They all vary in what they offer getting quotes you can make sure you aren’t being overcharged.
In terms of furniture, not everything has to go with you. Weigh the options of moving versus buying a new item. Don’t forget new furniture, computers, and other items may be depreciated on your tax return. New space deserves a new look. Don’t haul the past along with you if you don’t have to.
Think About Furnishings
The right furnishings are necessary when setting a mood for your clients, but you don’t want to break the bank with your move. There are many discounted warehouses in your local area. A lot of these warehouses have interior design software on their website or have professionals that can help you select the appropriate size, style, and usability for your new space. You can also hire the interior designer or design associate first. The designers may be able to point you in the right direction and help you find gently-used or discounted items. Keep in mind if your designer is from the warehouse they may try and sell you more furniture than you need. Don’t be persuaded to buy items you know you won’t need.
File the Necessary Paperwork
When you originally set up your business, you will remember that you filed your “articles of incorporation” document. On this document, you listed your address at that time. Update or re-file your LLC or incorporation paperwork to reflect your new address. Taxes taxes taxes. It all comes down to the government getting their cut. Don’t forget to update your address with the IRS (Form 8822-B), State and payroll company. You may also be required to alert the secretary of state of your move. To change your address with the post office, you can do this online with USPS for a small fee.
Set Up Systems
Phone systems are more than just the phones themselves. When I bought my phones years ago, they installed the panel in the back, and I forgot about it. Without that panel, your phones do not work. The cost associated with moving my old system didn’t make any sense, so I opted for a new phone system that operates over the internet. The new system blows my old one out of the water, and to top it all off I am saving a bundle by eliminating a phone bill.
The next step is evaluating your current computers. Which ones will make the move and which ones won’t? The life of these machines is around three to five years. If your computers are older than five years, it may be cheaper to get new ones rather than moving the older existing towers. You may find an IT company that is happy to hook up your new computers, but don’t forget most technicians do not run cabling. Ask your IT company if they will be able to run the wires for the new systems going into the office or if you need a separate contractor. Alert your credit card terminal system company by updating your W-9 to reflect your new address. You don’t want any confusion when it comes to getting paid or incorrect tax documents.
Have a Parking Plan
If you are in an urban area that requires your clients to park in a parking lot or you must purchase parking each month, look into installing a parking company widget on your website. I was initially quoted over $180 per monthly parking permit. When I asked the parking lot if there was anything they could do to cut down on the cost as I only pay around $110 currently, they suggested I install their widget on my website. By allowing potential clients to buy their parking on my website, the garage discounted my monthly pass to $150 a month. If you offer parking permits for your employees, a discount like that adds up. Don’t forget to ask around, shop for deals, and think outside the box. A little extra work can save you a considerable amount of money.