Are you planning an office relocation? Opening a second location? We’ve moved client computer networks and phone systems many times. Here are five key office relocation tips to make your office move easier on you.
New Office Cabling & Contractor Checklist
Plan Your Voice and Data Cabling 4 – 8 Months In Advance
Where are the outlets and switches in your new office? Where are the phone jacks? And where do you want your desks to be situated? Chances are you will need some phone wiring or network cabling in your new office.
These cabling services are best performed during the construction phase of a new office by the contractors and electricians. If this is not a new build, you will need to allow time for a cabler or electrician to run lines for you, and possibly re-patch and paint drywall.
After this work is done, then your IT company can begin their network setup.
It’s important to allow enough lead time for all these busy providers to fit your project into their full schedules. We’ve turned away many potential clients with unrealistic expectations of having a large network setup with only 2 weeks notice. Most network switches or WiFi products, and certainly network servers take more than 2 weeks to be delivered, let alone be configured and installed. Give the professionals enough time to do a good job for you by planning in advance.
Having a blueprint of your new office space and lots of lead time will make this portion of your office setup easier (and less stressful) to plan.
Call vendors to get quotes, but don’t just look at the bottom line on an estimate. Ask what is or isn’t included. Many vendors low ball estimates just to get you to choose them over fair market priced vendors, only to jack up the price at the time of invoice. Don’t be a victim of low estimate blindsides. Instead:
- Have the same conversation with each vendor, so when you compare estimates, you are comparing apples to apples.
- If you discuss something special with one vendor only, say a special pineapple, ask them to put it on a separate estimate which will help you more easily compare apples to apples and separately consider the special pineapple this one vendor can offer. If you lump the apple estimates with the apple+pineapple estimate, and then compare prices, forgetting about that special pineapple, you may think the vendor with the juicy pineapple is overcharging you, when in fact you’re getting multiple great services from one vendor for a fair price.
- Clarify what is or isn’t included and what might cause an unforeseen additional expense. We recommend this conversation happen via email, for documentation and reference purposes. For example, is the cabler just running lines, or are they professionally testing and labeling each line?
- Look at online reviews. If there is no web presence to speak of, question why.
- Remember you get what you pay for. Cheap is for dollar stores.
- Expect to pay a deposit to secure your project date.
Call Your Internet Service Provider 2 Months In Advance
You will need a dial tone and internet connection from day one. Plan for it by calling your service providers 60-90 days before your scheduled move date. It can take more than a full billing cycle to cancel or move a service. Many first time movers call too late and end up paying cancellation fees or the high price of not having service when they need it at their new location.
And remember, your IT providers can’t set up your network without an internet connection. And nothing says downtime like a business without phone or internet service.
Pro Tip: This is also a great opportunity to shop for better offers from other providers, or consider an upgrade or downgrade to your current service plans. Are you under utilizing what you pay for? Are you being hit with overage charges? Do you expect an increase in usage as a result of your move or growth? Review your usage and plans, shop for deals, and negotiate.
Update Clients & Vendors 2 Months In Advance – Multiple Times
At this time you should also contact all clients and vendors, advise them of your upcoming move, and provide your new contact information. It may seem early but many people will fail to act on the first notice. Everyone is busy, and changing your contact information in their records is a low priority during a stressful day. But you don’t want to lose potential business, referrals, mailed in payments or incoming shipments during your office relocation.
Pro Tip: Print small leaflets with your new contact information to attach to all outgoing mail. Change all employee email signatures to prompt email recipients to change their contact records for you. Also, contact the post office and inquire about mail re-routing services. This will ensure anything irregular gets forwarded to you at your new location.
Phone System & Network Setup
A Coordinated Effort One Month In Advance
Once you have advised service providers of your move and arranged vendors for any cabling work you may need, and secured any contractors and IT Providers you need, it’s time to coordinate all efforts to get everything set up and connected for your opening day.
Who needs keys or security codes to go in and work? If you are not willing to provide such access, who on your team will be on site to grant access and lock up at end of day?
Your contractor will have to advise your IT Consultant when it is safe to enter to begin work such as setting up your phone system and user extensions, your server, network, computers and WiFi. Prior to the actual setup, your IT Provider may need to work with you to collect accurate information such as employee names or emails to set up user accounts, phone systems etc. Depending on the size of your network, or the scope of the setup, your IT Provider may need a full weekend or a full week to complete your setup. Such projects are booked in advance. Be sure to leave enough time before opening day or move in day to allow for your business systems to be setup.
For construction or moving days, make a schedule and ask vendors to commit to their scheduled work. Be sure to include your vendors when making said schedule, and get their input to allow for reasonable but efficient timelines for everything. If they tell you it’s 8 hours minimum to install your custom reception desk, don’t try to force it into 6. Instead, offer a grace period on top of their estimate of 8 hours. Offer them 9 but tell them it’s a firm 9 and get their commitment.
Check in with them every few hours or at least daily to ensure all is moving along well and that you will be all hooked up for your opening day.
Expect problems. They will happen. Do your best to shuffle priorities or parts of the project to keep things moving forward when an inevitable problem arises and threatens to stall the project all together.
IT Support After Office Relocation
You may also want to consider having your IT support provider on site on opening day to resolve the inevitable quirks that can only be uncovered during a regular work day. This way, any hiccups encountered by staff on their first day after major IT and network changes can be immediately addressed. There is usually an hourly fee or a day rate for this service, so plan ahead.
So there you have it. Five tips for planning your SMB office relocation or new office setup without too many extra grey hairs. But before you go, consider this bonus tip;
Is it time for IT upgrades?
- 90% of consumers said they would consider taking their business elsewhere rather than work with a company who has outdated technology.
- 61% of consumers think an SMB is outdated is they are still using 5-10 year old operating systems.
- 58% of consumers use modern mobile devices and 60% of consumers expect modern businesses to use up to date, responsive customer service methods or software.
Moving time is a great time to undertake IT upgrades. SMB’s are moving to cloud services at a rapid rate, so now might be a good time for you to explore a switch to Office 365 or cloud based services of any kind for your business. At the very least, it’s time to review hard drive health on all computers and servers and determine what may need upgrading. Since IT systems will be offline for the move, it’s a great time to upgrade hardware without any additional downtime for your team. If you’re not sure what you need, hire an IT Consultant for an IT Audit and network review.
TUCU will help you plan your move and coordinate and oversee all the technological aspects of your new office setup, including working with construction and cabling vendors, and setting up and securing your phone system, server, computer network, WiFi, and more.