Luck Favors the Prepared
We just completed the physical challenge of an office move – in other words, all our business stuff is now at a new address. A move doesn’t really sound like a big deal, right? We move things all the time. But after 10 years of daily operations, and an undisciplined “purging” policy, we had accumulated lots of unnecessary and out-of-date stuff.
Like all things, we learned some important facts and lessons that are worth passing on.
Fact: Commercial moves are not regulated the same way residential moves are. That means there is no “standard” pricing methodology. We requested bids from four different companies. Over the course of two days a representative from each company came out to the office, met with me briefly, surveyed the offices to see what we were moving and received the same conditions for the move. If competitive bidding is going to work – you have to make sure that everyone sees and hears the same story – it’s the only way to make sure they are bidding on the same “job.”
Even with that entire careful “same story” the bids we received ranged from two trucks and 10 guys at a cost of $4250 to one truck and five guys at a cost of $1650. Whew – that was quite a difference. There was concern from one of the bidding companies that this job may require more than one day. To narrow our selection, we read online reviews and followed-up with additional questions.
Being cheap accountants, our questions centered on “how can we make this move easier for you” (the moving company), and “how can we reduce the costs of this move for us?” The answers were always about preparation. This leads me to the lessons we learned.
We made a commitment to ourselves that were not going to move anything we didn’t need at our new office. This meant reviewing everything before it was packed. We established three categories to class everything into – tossing, keeping, and donating. And we stuck to it. Over the week of packing we tossed an amazing amount of useless, antiquated, old stuff (that no one else could benefit from). And we ended up donating a 10-foot U-Haul truck of other stuff that someone else would enjoy.
A fourth category emerged – returning. We discovered original financial records that belonged to our clients that we intended to return (sometimes years before) but hadn’t. FedEx ground afforded us a way to track delivery inexpensively. The overall result was a good 40 boxes we didn’t have to move.
We also made a commitment to ourselves that everything we expected the movers to touch would be “move ready” when they arrived. That meant it was in a box, or properly disassembled. This was no mean feat. We had to go through every cupboard, drawer, etc. and actually pack the items. We took down every picture, took apart desks and wall units.
For clarity, we tagged everything with an identifying number. Every box and piece of furniture was marked with a number relating to where it went in the new office. And the new office was properly marked with those same numbers. All the threes were mine, and the fives were Conrad’s, etc. That allowed for quick execution on the far end.
And finally, we made a commitment to move anything “precious” ourselves – in our business technology is our most precious asset. So all the IT, and much of the wall art was ours to deal with. That’s where the 10-foot U-Hauls came in handy again. Two trips made sure our computers arrived to the new office intact and under constant supervision.
The last lesson was one I’ve employed before. I call it “remove the mystery”. On move day, after our walk through and before everything started I asked the foreman “if everything goes to plan, what time will we be all done at our new office?” He thought for a minute – and said “Between 2 and 3.” I produced a wad bills from my pocket and told him I had a $200.00 tip for them if we got done by 2:00 with everything in one piece. He smiled and said “then we’d better get busy!” I have found people work toward a known goal better than an unknown goal.
And busy they got. Final result was a strong hustle to a 2:15 completion – a full tip (don’t be a putz about 15 minutes) – and all our stuff is in place, in one piece. The final bill came in $350 under the bid. Lucky? I prefer to think this was the result of being prepared. Doing the work up front made for a better move.
Now we just need to unpack – ugh…
Chris Basom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Categories: Business & Finance
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