90 Days Out Video
Time moves quickly, learn how to begin the process.
The start of the moving process is the most tangible part of the process for people because it is literally when every single person in your company is involved. There is a lot leading up to the actual day of the move. A project manager will have a detailed checklist that incorporates various considerations. My job here is to give you an overview to help you know what to expect if you choose to manage your own relocation, and to help set expectations.
FURNITURE, FIXTURES, AND EQUIPMENT
In your lease document and within the industry, we call everything you bring into the property “furniture, fixtures, and equipment” (FF&E). Before you can think about moving out of your current property to the new one, the new property must be functional and ready to receive your FF&E. Here is how you can prepare your IT, furniture, and equipment for moving day.
In the last decade, cloud-based infrastructure has replaced most on-site servers in offices. However, there is usually a need for on-site server space for internal networks, wireless routers, copiers, printers, and audiovisual, at a minimum. Additional IT-related considerations revolve around workplace sensors, smart appliances, and the warehouse. The warehouse of yesterday involved racking and forklifts, but the modern warehouse and the warehouse of the future include automation and robotics systems that have their own IT and electrical needs.
Internal IT departments of companies, third-party IT consultants, and internet service providers usually need extra time to properly budget, coordinate, and execute their parts of the system setup. IT departments usually require multiple stakeholder approvals for equipment purchases and vendor agreements, which can take months of additional time. For example, one IT contract for new equipment procurement might need internal IT approval, finance approval, legal review, and executive approval before it can be fully implemented. Then the equipment needs to be ordered, received, and installed. Then employees may require training. The concept of improving your operation while you move also means you might have new methods to learn during the process. Giving this careful consideration in advance can help you avoid any turmoil.
Add to these considerations the fact that any new warehouse automation and robotics initiative will have a considerable IT component to it. This is because automation systems must be integrated within your internal ERP system. The warehouse must be mapped so any automation system can identify where all building systems and products are located, along with adjustments and refinements along the way.
Many tenants believe they can have their mover break down their furniture, transport it, and then reassemble it in their new space with minimal adjustments overnight. Rarely is this the reality. Any major relocation will inevitably include a rearranging of office personnel to fit into the new space. Architects and furniture vendors excel at this task and will save you multiple headaches.
Trying to time the completion of construction, the receipt and installation of furniture, IT, the relocation crew, and the start of rent payments can be daunting even for professionals. Without professionals, the room for error is rather large. You do not want your new furniture delivered too early, while contractors are in the building, and you do not want the furniture delivered too late, when you are rushing to meet deadlines, so timely scheduling is essential. Your mover can usually be a lifeline for you in that they can hold furniture within their warehouse until the building is ready to receive it.
Installation can take multiple days, and even weeks in larger offices. During this time, you may find unforeseen surprises that require adjustment. For instance, you might find that too many desks are located in an area with unacceptable sun glare or that all of the glass offices are aesthetically attractive but require additional sound dampening and privacy screening.
Let us not forget about the artwork. Some people overlook decor, while others have full-blown murals that cover entire walls within their space. What you choose depends on the people in your organization and what speaks to the company culture. You will want all artwork installed after the furniture installation, but oftentimes before your contractor punch list, depending on how invasive the artwork installation process is.
In the warehouse, relocation specialists can help you move racking, forklifts, machines, and lab equipment. Their work can also include dismantling, crating, loading, transporting, and installing machinery.
Machines can require moving techniques from specialized “machine movers,” otherwise known as “riggers.” The most
prevalent concerns involve machines that require precision calibration, Underwriters Laboratories safety certification, concrete footings, mezzanine installation, and temperature control.
Machinery moving and rigging is a cottage industry, so there are usually only a handful of options in each area. Whom you decide to work with depends on the size and complexity of your operation and geographic distance of the move. Refer to the following lists for steps that should occur throughout the equipment-moving process.
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- Interview moving companies. Each one has its own method of bidding, much like the general contractors we discussed in the tenant improvement chapter. Make sure your moving bids are comparable, and use each bid to help clarify the others.
- Bid out your machinery moving to multiple specialized movers. You will find there will be little overlap in service between a traditional mover and a heavy machinery mover. This can be yet another area that will bring forth clarity and competition. Consider whether your machines or equipment have warranties, and if those warranties require specific vendors.
- Inventory all of your furniture and equipment, and the contents of your offices and warehouse. Note which pieces have special needs for disassembly, reassembly, and care during moving.
- Evaluate your mover’s insurance policies, waivers, and disclaimers. Your contract with your mover is like your contract with your landlord and your contractor. It pays to be crystal clear on who is responsible for what, and what happens when people deviate from the agreed-upon job.You may want to have your attorney review this contract. • Check with your existing and new landlord to see if they require a copy of your insurance certificate.
- Discuss security procedures and access with movers, vendors, and employees, especially if the move will take multiple days. It is imperative to clarify who is allowed at the job site and how building security will work.
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- Develop a strategy for communications to all employees, as well as a migration plan mapping out the department’s timing and location.
- Plan the closing, redirection, and setup of services like mail, phones, faxes, and telecom services.
- Update vendors for supplies like water delivery, coffee service, and office supplies.
- Notify and update service agreements, licenses, insurance, and equipment leases with your new address and the timing of the move.
- Have your marketing department update all marketing collateral and order any new physical materials that require a new address, such as brochures, placards, letterhead, envelopes, and business cards.
- Plan announcements, schedule an open house, and send out press releases.
- Confirm the setup and installation of all operating systems in the new building, like water, power, elevators, emergency phone, HVAC units, and fire and life safety systems.
- Contact your moving company to confirm the numbers of totes, cartons, and containers needed. Schedule the distribution of all packing equipment.
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- Schedule the delivery and installation of new furniture and equipment.
- Explain to each employee what they will be required to do. For instance, remove the contents from their desks, pack their books and files, and color-code their boxes.
- Develop a color-coded floor plan of the new facility to show where to place all items.
- Color code all furniture and equipment.
- Tape keys to empty desks and file cabinets. Make sure you have duplicate keys.
- Install locks at new facilities and make duplicate keys. Distribute keys to appropriate team members.
- Arrange for the distribution of parking passes and security cards for the new facility.
- Maintain proper records for control and audit procedures.
- Schedule staff for unpacking and stocking supply cabinets, storerooms, and file rooms. Remove tags from all furniture and equipment to ensure you are operational as soon as possible.
- Prepare an employee welcome packet for the new space (including areas such as restrooms, gyms, break rooms, and copy rooms).
- Create a list of emergency contacts, cell phone numbers,and vendors for your project team that includes the moving company, building management, utilities, and telecommunications.
- Arrange for the old facility to be cleaned after the move has been completed.
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- Put up directional signs, room and area labels, and furniture plans in the new facility.
- Distribute contact lists for emergency/on-site/on-call lists. • Create a “lost and found” department to locate lost boxes, personal items, and so on.
- Backup computer systems.
- Protect elevator cabs, lobbies, walls, and floors against damage from moving.
- Confirm transfer of your certificate of insurance from the insurance company.
- Check inventory as contents load into each moving van.
- Walk the perimeter to look into elevators, lobbies, hallways, and offices before the last moving truck leaves to check for any items that have been left behind.
- Record the time the mover arrives and the number of movers working on your move.
Carefully read the bill of lading before you sign it. The bill of lading is the document that serves as an inventory for your goods as they are loaded onto the truck and provides pertinent details of the move like the location, pricing, and delivery dates. Keep it with you until everything is delivered, charges are paid, and any claims are settled.
- Indicate any damaged boxes or items on the mover’s inventory before signing paperwork.
- Distribute employee welcome packets.
- Coordinate with IT and electricians to be on hand for moving day to handle real-time troubleshooting and requests.
- Distribute a new contact list and a map of department locations.
- Reconfirm the termination of old leases and the return of security deposits.
- Confirm the proper completion, delivery, and installation of all items on both the construction and vendor punch lists. • Connect with maintenance vendors for the new facility’s operating systems.
- Establish housekeeping rules.
- Audit final invoices against contract progress payments and pay retention.
- Complete and file all warranty information for new furniture and equipment.
- Update the fixed asset accounting system for any new furniture and equipment purchased. Do not forget to delete old furniture and equipment sold or given to charity.
- Confirm the change-of-address corrections. Update address for business certificates, the State Board of Equalization, and the certificate of occupancy.
SURRENDER, RESTORATION, DECOMMISSIONING
Most people take a nostalgic moment to look back at the old warehouse, think about how the company grew over time, and memorialize all of the moments that made their company what it is today. After that moment, it is vital to read through your lease one last time, specifically the section labeled Surrender, because it describes the condition in which you must deliver the property back to the landlord.
Any sophisticated landlord will ask you to remove your old network cabling. If the tenant leaves cabling behind, it will become the obligation and expense of the landlord to remove it. New tenants do not want to be responsible for removing the existing network cablings if they are outdated and unusable. Do not disregard this part of the lease, or you might be surprised when cabling removal expenses are deducted from your security deposit.
In the warehouse, the most commonly overlooked decommissioned item is the repair of the concrete slab. It is mandated by code for anchor bolts to secure your racking down to the concrete slab at specific torque levels, especially in areas of seismic activity. When racking is removed, these bolts need to be clipped and ground down before the remaining divot in the concrete is filled in with epoxy and smoothed. The result will be a floor in similar condition to when you first leased the building. This process may not sound like a big deal until you imagine the reality of four thousand bolts that need clipping, grinding, filling, and smoothing. Heavy-duty machines installed on footers can damage the concrete slab during operation, and disassembly and will need to be considered as well.
If you procure new racking and machines for your new building, you will need to assess what to do with the old racking and machinery. It is common to have the general manager designate someone to sell all of the old items. Auction houses can stage an auction on-site, or liquidators can remove everything for a flat fee. Decide what you need most: compensation, convenience, or cost avoidance.
We worked with a global supplier of industrial brake pads in Ontario, California, that was moving their manufacturing to Mexico and hired us to sell their existing 42,000-square-foot warehouse. They managed to sell half of the machinery and tools they no longer needed, but it took six months of countless meetings, haggling, pickups, and canceled appointments. While they recouped tens of thousands of dollars, it also took an enormous amount of the facility manager’s time.
The Surrender section will have language regarding the repair and restoration of the building systems at the end of the lease. Since you took possession of the building with all of the systems in good working order, you should return the building with everything in good working order, with wear and tear excepted.
This concept seems straightforward, but there is plenty of room for ambiguity.
For example, what if you were in the building for ten years, and when you initially signed the lease, the HVAC units were ten years old. Now these units are twenty years old, and they still work with regular service but are not as reliable as they once were. Depending on your lease, you may have an obligation to replace some of the units that are near the end of their useful life.
This same idea relates to the roof. Earlier, we discussed how not all triple net leases are created equal. The roof is one of the items that can change, depending on the kind of contract you have. Some people think the landlord should be responsible for the roof. It is their building, after all. Landlords often think the roof is the tenant’s responsibility because of the nature of the triple net lease. But if you read through enough contracts, you will see there is no exact standard.
A great example of this happened with a global, publicly traded life science company we represent. We leased 100,00 square feet and added twenty HVAC units to the roof to support their laboratory operations. Some landlords want to keep all of these units at the end of the lease, thinking they add value to the property. Other landlords want these HVAC units removed so they do not have to pay to remove the units, as most companies that would lease the property next would not need them. We were able to negotiate within the lease for the tenant to leave the units at the end of the lease. Oftentimes, you will find this is a point of contention, and the landlord will usually ask for the option to decide at the end of the lease whether or not they want the tenant to remove their improvements.
When it comes to the parking lot, some companies can be harder on asphalt and concrete than others. Some trucking operations are notoriously tough on asphalt, trailer yards, and truck courts. Imagine hot summer days with fully loaded trucks making slow, tight turns on warm, sticky asphalt. Imagine storing trailers with trailer stands dug into the asphalt, day after day, for eighteen hundred days in a row. You may be responsible for replacing the entire parking lot, depending on the amount of damage. The acceptable solution may be two to three times more expensive than the simple slurry coat you may have in mind.
You will have to remove your sign from the top of the building and repair any damage done to the tilt-wall panel or facade once completed. Sometimes, you will be able to strike an arrangement with the landlord for your sign to go down at the same time the new tenant goes up and uses the same vendor. This simultaneous removal and installation is possible, but often hard to coordinate.
TIME TO CELEBRATE
Enjoy your open house, as it is a beautiful moment to celebrate a job well done for everyone on the relocation team and everyone in the company. I have seen some companies take this opportunity to invite folks from their corporate office, bring their spouses and kids to work, and offer fun team-building activities like raffles, dunk tanks, taco trucks, and more. The purpose of the celebration is to mark the successful completion of a resource-consuming and challenging project, and signal the time for new growth prospects to come. How will you celebrate your company’s new location?