How to move

Written by Yvan Marston

“People think an office move is like moving houses, but it’s completely different,” opines Andre MacKinnon, president of The Office Mover. His Milton, Ont.-based firm has handled moves for companies with as many as 1,000 employees and as few as nine.

Office moves are inherently more complicated than residential moves for two reasons. First, the goal of a successful office move is to have the company operational on Monday morning after a weekend move, which makes for a tight timeline. What’s more, in office moves, most of the goods are moved with specialized equipment. More equipment means more logistics, so before computer carts, desk dollies and moving trucks come rolling on site, there should be a plan. “Fifty percent of the move’s success,” says MacKinnon, “depends on how ready the client is.” If you do your planning, you’ll preserve your sanity as well.

Here’s how to get ready:

Stick to a schedule

Twelve months before move day: Call movers for quotes. That way you know how much you need to budget for the move.

Six months: Secure the services of a professional space planner or interior designer to help sort out how things will work in the new space (see “Splurge on space planning,” below).

Two months: book your mover.

Don’t choose any old mover

When you check your mover’s references — and you absolutely must — ask the following key questions:

  • Did the mover come back for extra money after the move? This contentious practice, known as “back-dooring” a client, has the mover quote low to get the job and then add extras as the job progresses.
  • Were the movers on time? Punctuality tells you a lot about the firm’s ability to stick to the tight deadlines required of office moves.
  • Were they in uniform? “If we’re moving your $500,000 server,” says MacKinnon, “you want to know the guy moving it is part of the company you hired.”
  • How was the supervisor? On move day, priorities will shift rapidly, and you want to know you’ll be working with a team that is genial and flexible when it comes to getting things done.

Splurge on space planning

On move day, office movers need a space plan. MacKinnon has had his share of nightmares working with amateur space plans and is an outspoken champion of using a professional space planner or interior designer. According to Victoria Horobin of the Association of Registered Interior Designers, it is very common for interior designers to provide preliminary space plans for a landlord’s prospective tenants. Typically used as an assistance tool in the leasing process, the cost of a preliminary space plan (8 cents to 10 cents per square foot) is often covered by the landlord.

“If the client needs a space planner to measure and document all existing furniture, and to plan this into a new space, the costs will range,” says Horobin. For more involved interior design services, expect to pay from $0.25 and $0.50 per square foot. MacKinnon says it’s worth every penny.

Smaller firms tend to forgo drawing up a space plan, and that’s where they end up paying extra costs. “You pay your mover to move your stuff once,” he says. “If the mover has to move your whole office twice due to a lack of planning, it will just cost you more in the end.”

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© 2004 Yvan Marston

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com