Moving your small business can be a challenge, but the right planning can make it much easier.
- Research locations before finalizing plans to move your business. Good reasons to move a business include increased space needs and wanting an area with higher foot traffic.
- Create a business plan before opening a new location. This gives you the opportunity to review your financials and generate a market analysis.
- Keep employees informed of updated schedules and responsibilities during the move. Clients should also be kept in the loop to reduce service interruptions.
Much like moving to a new home, sometimes you know it's time to move your small business to greener pastures. Whether you're moving to a better location for sales, a place that will save you money or a larger space, it's a big endeavor that takes a lot of planning.
Balancing each step has been a journey for The Foundry Collective, a locally owned boutique store in Clovis, California. Owner Karen Chisum saw an opportunity when a new building opened just one street over in a busier location. The appeal was the boost in space, increasing the store from 1,800 to 2,500 square feet. It was to be the second move for the business, which outgrew its initial space shortly after opening.
Are you ready?
Don't underestimate the importance of conducting a thorough financial and marketing analysis. A move is often an opportunity for better visibility or a newer building, but the rent or lease will cost more. Deciding whether that is a worthwhile investment requires quantitative work.
"When moving office spaces, my best tip is ensuring that your business is in the place to expand before you physically expand," said Nellie Akalp, CEO and founder of business consulting company CorpNet. "Make sure your numbers are where they need to be and your team is in place to support the expansion. You don't want to move spaces because you envision your company growth. A vision is great, but going through a physical move is very trying on a team. Make sure that vision is becoming a reality before signing that new lease."
While the planning and time investment of the move was substantial, Chisum found it was the right step to take for her business.
"At the end of the day, having adequate storage space, higher ceilings for taller displays and the opportunity to rethink the design of the store were well worth the minor inconveniences," she said.
The biggest hiccup was one that Chisum and The Foundry Collective team couldn't control – a series of delays that prolonged the opening date due to the fickle nature of construction.
Chisum said her team and the customers took the delays in stride. If nothing else, it increased interaction on social media, as people wanted to know when the store would open. Communication was key – it was important to update customers on how things were progressing, alert them that The Foundry was still at its old location, and remind them that the move was still happening.
Despite the complications, a move provides the chance for a business to grow.
"Use a move as an opportunity to evaluate your product and your bestsellers," Chisum said. "Analyze how your products are selling, and take advantage of a chance to expand on inventory or pivot in the areas you need to."
When planning your move, keep a checklist of the things you need to accomplish. When you've decided that it's the right time, start working right away. Ron Vaknin, project manager with Oz Moving and Storage, said you should start the process as early as six months before you move out.
Do plenty of research on moving companies, and book their services months in advance. Likewise, start collecting quotes for new phone service, internet and security for the new space right away. Doing this early helps you get a better idea of your budget for the new building, as you may also want to renovate the space or purchase new furniture. According to Move.org, your checklist should feature all of the logistics of moving your business, such as setting a budget, hiring movers, reviewing lease terms and determining if you need insurance for the move. For instance, if any equipment breaks in the move, you want insurance coverage in case the damage could detrimentally effect operations.
Much like The Foundry Collective did, keep both customers and employees continually informed of the move through social media, newsletters and signage at the storefront. Inform them of the benefits to the business for switching locations, such as a bigger space or more convenient area. Plan the layout before you make the move, and hire an interior designer to make the most out of the space.
Keep your online presence current by updating your website and Google My Business listing with your new address and contact info, said Rhea Drysdale, CEO for Outspoken Media. Services such as Moz can check all mentions of your business's listing online and update them for you.
Keep all your employees up to date with the move too. All individuals involved with the move should have a schedule of events and a list of their responsibilities. Give employees plenty of notice so they can adjust accordingly.
A final piece of advice is to plan what the first day will look like. Will it be more of a soft opening, or a big splash with decorations and goodies? That decision, like others, depends on the type of business you have and the needs of your customers. When it's all said and done, a fresh start with excited customers will be well worth the effort.