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Steps Businesses Should Take When Vetting Moving Companies

Here are some steps to minimize down time — and cut costs — when choosing a moving partner for your business.

Q1 / Winter 2013
With the economy continuing to improve, the volume of business moves is likely to pick up in the coming months. For businesses looking to relocate, identifying a qualified moving partner is not only an essential first step, it is also the single biggest factor that will determine if their move is successful. Unlike what you may think, moving companies are not all the same!

The inherent logistical and professional challenges can be exponentially more complex when dealing with a corporate or industrial relocation versus residential moves. The challenges businesses face when relocating can vary widely — from costly downtime to the security concerns surrounding the transfer of high-value infrastructure. But while the logistics might change, the underlying fundamentals of what to look for in a relocation specialist remain the same.

Logistical Challenges
Understanding the scope and scale of business relocation challenges is an important step in the process of choosing the right professional moving company. A prime concern of a business decision-maker when relocating is not just the cost of the relocation, but the impact it has on his or her operation.

Perhaps the most significant relocation challenge is the professional disruption that can result from a lengthy and logistically demanding move. The prospect of essentially shutting your company down and relocating it — which frequently shuts off the revenue stream — is no small feat. Some companies, particularly industrial or manufacturing, will attempt to minimize costly downtime by establishing a smaller-scale operation at the new location. With this strategy, production slows, but never entirely stops. The business owners then have an opportunity to test and refine the new infrastructure before it comes fully online. Another popular option is a phased relocation, where support departments and parts of the business that have little to no direct impact on customers/revenue streams are moved during normal working hours, while other, mission-critical portions of the business are moved overnight, during off-hours or on the weekend. Timing and coordination are obviously essential in such a scenario, and the ability of a relocation firm to provide a diverse and flexible range of moving options is important.

In addition to timing, peace of mind is also an issue: With some moving firms, last-minute changes or delays can create a logistical nightmare and may even make some moving resources unavailable. For moves where timing and coordination are essential, it is critical to select a moving company that has sufficient capacity and resources to adapt to your changing needs without loss of service. The security of knowing that you will be moved regardless of any last-minute issues is invaluable.

For many businesses, the ability to minimize unavoidable disruptions by streamlining packing, preparation, and travel time is an essential way of keeping costs down and ensuring that a successful move takes place with minimal impact on the business. Business owners and facilities managers trying to maximize productivity frequently find that it makes sense to bring in outside moving experts to assist with this process. Doing more on your own can actually end up costing more, because of the loss of productivity and professional disruption, and companies often find that identifying a relocation vendor who is equipped to efficiently assist with the entire relocation process is practical — both financially and professionally.

Finding the Right Partner
The reality is that any move, especially a business move, is a far more complicated and challenging endeavor than simply transporting stuff from Point A to Point B. The planning, preparation, and execution of a business relocation places extraordinary demands on any firm. The ability of a professional moving company to meet and exceed those demands can vary greatly, and it is incumbent upon any business looking to relocate to be vigilant in its search for a partner, and demanding in the standards it uses to ultimately make its selection. Here are some specific steps businesses should take when vetting potential moving companies:

Prioritize preparation.

The best relocation professionals are capable of coming to you and running in-house seminars and training sessions for staff to help them prepare for their move. This can reduce pack and preparation times and minimize disruption. The most successful moves take place when the business owner and the relocation vendor are working closely together well in advance of the actual move. This collaborative approach helps facilitate the all-important advance planning and develop a customized, workable moving plan.

Evaluate enhanced capabilities.
The ability to handle specialized equipment is vital. Whether a move involves manufacturing facilities, large and complex electrical systems, or high-end or specialized computing infrastructure, it is important to make sure that your relocation partner has demonstrated experience in moving those unique products/equipment. It is also important to note that, many times, the warranties of special equipment stipulate that the same people who installed/sold the equipment have to be involved in the move. If so, make sure your vendor is prepared to work closely with those outside individuals in a safe and efficient manner. Executing a move for specialized infrastructure often comes down to planning and preparation, both for the logistics required to move the equipment, and for the operational challenges that may arise as a result of downtime or setup.

Seek strategic guidance.
Before choosing a partner, every business decision-maker looking to move should educate themselves about what their potential relocation providers can and cannot do. Can they assist with plumbing? Electrical disconnects? Specialized transport? Can they remove equipment from the floor and anchor it in place in the new facility? If additional work has to be performed in your current space to restore it to its previous condition to satisfy lease or contractual obligations, make certain that your mover has the in-house capability and expertise to complete those tasks. It also makes sense to conduct a pre-move walk-through to discuss timing; lay out a detailed plan of action and discuss how to best allocate resources.

Read the fine print.
When evaluating the overall price tag of your move, remember that there are many different types of rates: some based on time, some set out as line items, and some as one bottom-line number. As you calculate your costs, remember to evaluate the distinction between the rates you see on paper and the overall cost of the move to your firm. If the quote is lower, but you lose two days of work because of an inefficient move, that is a poor trade-off. Also, make sure that your mover is able to provide you with a certificate of insurance to protect against property damage.

Look for impeccable references.

There are hundreds of professional movers out there, and almost all of them will declare that they are a “commercial mover,” or that they have commercial moving capabilities. Separate the truly experienced and capable professionals from the pretenders by asking for detailed references from companies/relocations similar to your own. Do not just take someone at his/her word, and do not be afraid to demand details. Any relocation professional who cannot give you that high level of detail and assurance should be avoided. Because the bottom line is that it is your bottom line at stake in your move. Ultimately, whether your business is simply in need of a bigger space — or is relocating to a new city, state, or even country — selecting the right moving partner can make all the difference.

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