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The Joys of Moving a Small Business

By Reg Pirie |

Moving immediately conjures up vivid images for those of us who have relocated families and households. Ask anyone who has moved and you will be regaled with tales of various horror stories.

However, as the Pirie family prepared for yet another trek halfway across the country we were confident things would progress with clockwork precision - after all, we were accomplished veteran movers.

But, and this is a big but, it was the first time we had also set about the task of moving two small companies. If your business has a move on the horizon you will find the following hints and suggestions to be of assistance.

What's that new address and postal code?

We don't realize how often we give out our business address until we are faced with memorizing a new one. To compound matters, it becomes critical to get this information 100% correct before making any plans about announcing a new business location. Don't rely solely on your realtor or rental agent for this information. Double and triple check the accuracy before you even consider giving out the new address and postal or zip code.

Telephones are a business' life-line!

As soon as you have firmed-up a move date, immediately get in touch with your phone company and speak to their small business support department. Obviously scheduling installations is important but you will also want to confirm the various new numbers. If you are moving out-of-province or out-of-state, be prepared for different rules and regulations. It is a wise idea to confirm all your conversations in writing to avoid misunderstandings down the road.

In the event you have a 1-800 number, make certain there will be minimal disruptions in service. If you are faced with the need to use a new phone company, give them ample notice so they can arrange to switch your 1-800 number from the existing carrier.

Don't forget about your cell phone. If a cell phone is critical to your business, you will want to establish the new number in advance so it can be recorded on your updated business cards and stationery.

Web sites and email addresses deserve close attention.

If you already have a web site, use it to alert customers to the fact that you will be moving and include your new address and phone numbers as soon as practical. Also take the time to speak with the help-line provided by your server. You want to be able to reconnect as soon as your computers are hooked up. For the novice, the help-line will be able to walk you through the programming changes you may need to make.

We'll wait until we get to our destination to order new stationery and forms.

On the surface the above sounds like a reasonable approach, particularly if you want to establish a new working relationship with a local printer. However, now is not the time to be breaking in a different printing firm. If possible, use your existing printer for the initial run of your revised business cards, letterhead, envelopes and brochures. You will find it to be a far less painful process.

While you are at it, consider giving your stationery a face-lift. Since you will be incurring printing expenses anyway, now might be a great time to redesign all your printed material. It's a natural, a new business location - a new company image.

Announcing your move should be a marketing EVENT.

Most move announcements tend to stress "where and when". These are important items to cover but don't miss out on the opportunity to highlight what advantages will accrue to your clients because of your relocation. This is known as the "why" factor and it allows you to accentuate things like: bigger premises, a more convenient location, expanded products, enhanced services and/or more personnel. Even the best co-ordinated move will cause some disruptions to your clients and customers. In your move announcement, make a point of acknowledging this inevitability and ask for a little indulgence during the actual move day. People will understand and they will appreciate your candid forewarning.

Have you noticed that some of your clients rely almost entirely on email and they really don't pay much attention to hard copy material? When sending out your move notices, take the time to communicate with everyone in your email data base. Don't worry if they also receive a copy in the regular mail. Your goal is to inform as many people as possible about how to reach you and your company in the future.

In the event you are a smaller company and you are not accustomed to using bulk mail, check out this option. You will save significant dollars if you have more than 1000 announcements to process through the postal system.

One last point when it comes to preparing a mailing. Make a genuine effort to verify the correct address of everyone on your list. If you are too busy to make the calls yourself, employ a student to go through your data base and have them confirm and/or change the addresses for all your suppliers and existing / potential clients.

Oops, I forgot to back-up the computer!

Admit it, you likely don't back-up your computer as often as is recommended. If there is ever a time to be extra cautious in this regard it is when you are transporting computers from one location to another. Not only should you prepare back-up discs but you also want to make certain that those discs are not travelling with your equipment. Simply mail your back-up to yourself or keep a copy at home.

The key to a successful, relatively hassle-free move!

As you may have gathered from the foregoing observations and comments, the key to a successful move can best be summarized in one word, PRE-PLANNING.

Start the planning process as early as possible, anticipate worst case scenarios and have contingency plans available. Above all else, don't forget about your customers. Your move may present many challenges but your main goal is to have customers view the undertaking as a seamless transition. Good luck.

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Reg and his wife Audrey for successfully moving their 2 companies, Ink Ink Publishing & Presentations and Audrey's Button Boutique, from Toronto, Ontario to Calgary, Alberta last month. Trust me - when it comes to moving these two know what they're doing and they capitalized on every marketing opportunity associated with the move to their new location.

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