Companies today rarely stay in the same place permanently, unlike those who have preceded them in corporate history. Relocating a business is a common decision. Sometimes the realities of input costs or sources, facility needs, or local laws give you no choice but to find a different place to hang out your shingle. It can be a very challenging process, made all the more difficult if you don’t get your act together ahead of time. There are a number of key logistical concerns and practical considerations that you must keep in mind; if you don’t, the move could be a disaster for you and the company. Review these significant matters.
Just as a farmer can’t just tell his cattle to move to a new field, most businesses can’t simply grab their family photos from the desk and head down the interstate. There are all kinds of different laws–both federal and state; see the next section!–that regulate how you transport different materials, when you can transport them, and who needs to know about it. And it isn’t all external regulations.
Your particular shipping methods may be perfectly legal but horribly destructive or expensive for you. For example, a cryogenic lab needs special lab movers to transport their fragile inventory to a new location. Any type of hazardous materials will need special markings on the trucks. Even something as simple as a music store will have serious planning to do about relocating thousands of dollars’ worth of heavy pianos and delicate guitars.
Learning A New Business Climate
But let’s take a step back. When you are considering relocating, the first thing that needs to be addressed should get your attention long before the first box is packed. The United States of America can be notoriously un-united when it comes to business law, and even an established business will have to think like a new business in this area.
Taxes, workers’ compensation, insurance, and dozens of other issues vary state by state. Even the physical act of moving can require various permits, escorts, and time frames if you are hauling anything large or dangerous. If you don’t do your homework before making a decision about where to move, you could go through a very unpleasant acclimation process that may have you second-guessing your new address–at a time when you have no choice but to keep it.
Relocating (Or Finding) Employees
Your business doesn’t work without the people who do the work. When circumstances dictate that you relocate, you will have to make some tough decisions. Longtime employees with just a few years until retirement may be reluctant to move, and you may need to buy them out a little bit early.
Can you handle the loss of their experience and expertise, especially if other employees choose not to move? If you will need even one new employee after you land elsewhere, can the job market provide someone with the right skills and work ethic? Will new staff fit in with established people, or will destructive cliques develop? Could your relocated staff resent those in the new city who got the job without having to move? Anytime you deal with human thoughts and emotions, it is tough. Spend time feeling out your employees before any decisions are made, and be serious about their input.
Relocating a business can be the decision that pushes you to the top. It can also be the pin that pops your balloon. If you are careful in planning the company’s relocation, you’ll go a long way towards making sure it’s the former and not the latter.