MD Peter Church reflects on what he’s learnt from FB Chain’s recent moving experience, and how others can avoid the potential headaches.
I’ve always said: “We’re a successful company because we make things happen, regardless of the challenges that come our way.”
Well, over the last six months that philosophy has certainly been put to the test. Now that we’re settled in to our new 15,000 sq ft purpose-built facility, I’ve had a chance to reflect on our recent moving experience, and this is what I’ve learnt:
Flexibility is key
You won’t be surprised to hear that planning is an important part of office move (no, really?) But planning, unfortunately, starts with the supposition that you can predict the future. And if I could that, I would be a professional gambler or a stock broker!
What’s even more important is being flexible. When what you had envisioned doesn’t go to plan, you need to be able to adapt fast. A good example of this is that we originally planned to move in to the new building in August last year – a great time as most of our large customers are closed for 2-3 weeks. However, things moved slower than we expected, and we ended up getting the building in early November. We changed our plan and it ended up working just as well, particularly as the first two phases were carried out in quiet period before Christmas.
Work with suppliers and contractors that accept that things will change
During the move, we decided to move our booking-in area, which required electrical and IT contractors to adjust their work. Good suppliers and contractors will understand that these things happen. And even though it will cost you extra, the cost of not make those changes can impact the business for years to come.
Give people in your organisation the authority and confidence to make decisions
Trying to decide everything will send you mad. Letting people make choices got them engaged in the project. The day we moved, I stayed in the old building while my colleagues took care of everything; it was one of the calmest days of the whole project.
Start sorting early
12 months ago, we began sealing up archive boxes and folders, and naming them for quick identification. When it came to the move, it was clear which items needed to be kept and which needed to the thrown away. It sounds simple but packing can often be overlooked or not done in a methodical manner. The last thing you want to be doing on moving day is archive admin!
Start the conversations with your utility suppliers early
Let me just say this: You can’t begin to imagine the wild goose chase you enter when it comes to changing utility suppliers. It’s a seemingly endless loop of being referred between departments, all of which require different codes and authorisations. Take it from me, give this phase adequate time and, more importantly, effort.
Keep customers informed
Last but not least, be clear with your customers what you’re doing. This is really important. Customers can get very nervous when suppliers move. We made use of social media and YouTube to show the progress of the transition. We also negotiated a large overlap on the new and old building leases. This meant we were under no pressure to move and made it clear to customers that we would only move when we were ready and that it would not impact on service.