As I’m sure all my regular readers know, I recently moved to a new office.  I believe that all things happen for a reason – the timing and the office are perfect.  What I realized during the moving process is that I did some things right and I did some things wrong.  So, I thought I would pass along the key things I learned.  I’m sure I will think of more as I get fully settled in.  I hope this proves useful to many of you.

  • Plan, plan, plan . . . I can’t emphasize that enough.  I’m a chronic planner/organizer and I fell short on this one.  I thought I had everything planned out in the perfect way . . . turns out, not so much.  Planning includes not just finding the location and setting a general time frame for the move.  It also includes planning your moving announcement card, coordinating change of address, notifying all the vendors, customers, memberships, insurance companies, service professionals, referral sources, etc., of your move, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.  It even includes planning on how best to pack up your old office to make the unpacking in the new office as efficient as possible.
  • Start earlier than you think is necessary.  I started my office search and planning process almost 4 months ahead of the scheduled move.  Guess what?  That was too late.  I still found myself rushing at the end.  Give yourself the time.  Particularly in the current commercial real estate market you have the benefit of being able to view many different locations and negotiate with many different property owners/landlords to make sure you are getting the best office.
  • Pick the office that is the best “fit” for your business and your personality.  It seems to go without saying, but at lot of people don’t think about the second one.  By checking out several different locations I was able to find a great location, great office layout, AND a building owner/landlord that is kind and great to work with.
  • Utilize a tenant representative if there is one in your area.  I had the benefit of working with Chris Atwater from Waters Tenant Representation LLC.  If you are moving your business in the West Michigan area, you owe it to yourself to talk with  Chris.  He is a man of integrity and truly represents the tenant throughout the process.  And he is fair to the building owner/landlord as well, which only helps the tenant in the negotiation process.  On a grander scale, I recommend a tenant representative as a way to know that the person you’re dealing with is truly working on your behalf and not conflicted between dual roles.
  • Make a realistic budget and add 20% to it.  This is what I did and it served me VERY well.  I actually came in under budget – partly by getting some great deals and partly by deferring some purchases.  There’s no sense in making an unrealistic budget.  In today’s environment you can get a good feel for pricing on every item you’ll need by searching the internet.  I’m a big fan of supporting local businesses, so I researched the items online to help build my budget and then I purchased locally.
  • Talk to other business owners who have gone through office moves.  Been there, done that is a big help.  You may not use every suggestion they give, but I assure you that listening will be beneficial.

Please feel free to share your suggestions via comment on this post.  I’m curious to hear what others have learned.