10 Steps to a Successful Office Move
10 Steps to a Successful Office Move
By Ed Katz of the International Office Moving Institiute
HELP! WE'RE MOVING
The office is moving and it's your responsibility to choose the right mover. "Simple," you say. "I'll just Google office movers for my location and locate the best service providers.” Unfortunately, you can't judge a mover's quality of service by their promotion on their website.
Did you know the forte of most moving companies is their residential (household) division while their weakest area is commercial moving?
An experienced office mover knows that the difference between a residential and a commercial move is as great as the difference between night and day. Yes, many will get you to your new location, but will it be on time, within the budget, and without mishap? Unfortunately, probably not.
Your goal is to accomplish this move as a hero; not end up the scapegoat. So instead of playing "Russian roulette" with the internet (and maybe your career), ask the building managers at both your present and new locations to recommend two or three moving companies. Property management people have extensive first-hand experience with movers and are as anxious as you to have the move be a success. Therefore, they are a great place to start your selection process.
Another avenue you should definitely check out is to visit http://www.officemoves.com and click “FIND AN IOMI® CERTIFIED OFFICE MOVER for your city. Many of the qualified movers in the service provider section of Helpmovingoffice.com are IOMI® CERTIFIED .
(See “About the Author…below to learn why.)
After you have selected and pre-qualified potential bidders, take the time to meet individually with each mover's representative for an analysis of the move. Be certain you fully understand what will be done and how the move will be carried out. Get at least three estimates. However, if it's a large move, you may want to solicit five bids.
Have someone of authority (not just an information gatherer) from your company meet with each mover during the inventory process. Inform the mover about your needs and ask how he or she proposes to meet them. (We will henceforth refer to this person as “he” to keep it simple. However, more and more women have become owners and salespeople in this formerly male dominated industry.) The same representative from your company should meet with all the movers. During the initial walk-through or inventory process, determine whether you or the mover will be responsible for handling the movement of fragile items such as lamps, paintings, and plants. Identify any additional services such as the packing of common areas like the supply room or library, the balancing and bolting of lateral file cabinets, and the disassembly and reconfiguration of modular furniture.
After the salesperson (AKA “Relocation Consultant”) completes his inventory process, set a time for him to return and make his formal presentation. At that time, he should bring a list of the last five companies whose offices his company moved with contact names and phone numbers. Tell him not to furnish you with a list of references (which he naturally would pick and choose to create a favorable impression). If your move is very large, request that he provide you with a list of comparable size moves he has done in the last 12 months. Ask him to also present at that time his Certificate of Insurance, as well as actual pictures of the type of moving equipment he will be using on your move. Some movers have been known to simply copy pictures and drawings of equipment they find in other moving company brochures or online and represent it as their own.
The next step will be to interview your mover. Allow enough time for your mover to make his formal presentation and to answer the following questions:
1. What type of moving cartons will you provide?
Similar in size to the Office Legal Tote, the plastic crate (brand names such as Rent-A-Crate® and E-Crate) offer an efficient alternative to the conventional moving carton. Because of its strength and shape, the plastic crate can be stacked 4 high without crushing the boxes below or their contents. Stacking the boxes 4 high reduces your contents volume by approximately 15% thereby lowering your total moving costs. Less volume means that movers make fewer trips to and from the moving van and can even reduce the number of truckloads.
The plastic crate has overcome the risk of lifting heavy boxes full since they have devised an ingenious method of stacking their containers on a unique dolly during the loading and unloading process.
2. How will you handle our computers and other electronic equipment?
The preferred manner is to first wrap each computer component with two layers of half inch bubble wrap (with the bubbles facing the bubbles) and then place the protected components into a container for safe transport. A patented technique, using a device called a Comp-U-Wrap, has all the advantages of bubble wrap but none of the disadvantages. It’s faster, easier to use and more efficient than bubble wrap. Since it’s reusable, it doesn’t fill landfills and is much more efficient. Regardless of which method your mover chooses, do not allow him to “blanket-wrap” your computers with furniture pads. According to an article written in PC World magazine, Chuck Miller warns about harmful dust particles entering your CPU and causing it to overheat and crash. Movers’ furniture pads are full of dust, dirt, and fibers and, therefore, should not be wrapped around the CPU. Unlike bubble wrap and Comp-U-Wraps that act like shock absorbers, furniture pads are non-resilient.
3. How will you handle our library?
Have the mover, under your close supervision, load your books onto book bins, which look like bookcases on wheels. This procedure greatly reduces your downtime because it gives you 100% access to your books immediately before and after the move. The Dark Ages method for moving a library is to pack the books into mountains of boxes where they can easily get mixed up. This system is very labor intensive and puts you out of business before and after the move.
4. How will you protect the office building from damage?
To protect carpet, a new product covers carpet with plastic sheets. It’s called Polynite. It has all the benefits of Masonite board yet none of the problems. It is easy to handle and apply. Masonite is very labor intensive and expensive to install and leaves trash behind. Polynite, on the other hand, goes down quickly and is clean. Another product, called the Mat-A-Door®, protects the lobby side entrance walls and frames leading into a passenger elevator that’s converted to haul furniture. The device also protects your reception room doors and other building main entrance doors.
5. How will you load the furniture onto the moving van?
You can immediately measure the level of skill and experience of your mover if he uses the "floating" method for loading the furniture instead of the stacking method. The floating method keeps the furniture on the dolly on the floor of the moving van. If done properly, it is fast, safe, and efficient. The old-fashioned way is the stacking method where the mover undollies the furniture onto the truck and stacks it floor to ceiling. This procedure (used on most household moves) can cause considerable crushing damage to anything at the bottom of the pile. It is also slow and very labor intensive.
6. What provisions do you have for contingencies such as a truck breakdown, an elevator failure, or the need for additional men or equipment?
The best answer is that someone of authority from the moving company will be accessible during your move. Such a person should be an owner or the general manager. Usually, the salesman has no decision-making authority in an emergency or last-minute change of strategy.
7. What type of insurance coverage do you have?
John Shubert, president and CEO of Southern States Insurance, Inc., cautions, "The one with the insurance often becomes the one who pays." You may be contingently liable for accidents if your mover isn't adequately covered. "For your protection, you should demand current certificates of insurance listing workers' compensation as well as general liability coverage -- $2 million for general aggregate and at least $3 million umbrella," advises Shubert.
If you obtain replacement value insurance, don't think that it is a substitute for a good mover. This type of coverage normally does not cover valuable papers (your files) or recorded electronic data; and if you're put out of business while you're waiting for the insurance company to settle your claims, replacement coverage does not pay for your downtime and lost business. (Insurance companies can have between 60 and 90 days to settle claims.)
8. Will we be permitted to audit your invoices?
A small minority of movers have a habit of billing for movers who are never on the move, i.e., "ghost movers." Will his company permit you to examine the payroll and cost records to verify all moving charges if you deem it necessary?
9. Will you furnish a list of your last five office moves?
Ask for a list of the last five office moves with contacts and telephone numbers. Call all five contacts and ask the following questions:
A. When did the mover move you? If the moves occurred more than 6 weeks ago, be suspicious.
B. Ask how well the mover protected their furniture, electronic equipment, and contents.
C. Ask if and how the mover protected their offices against damage.
D. Ask if the mover completed the job in the time allotted, and if the bill exceeded the prices quoted.
10. Last but not least, "mass walk-throughs" do not save time.
This "herd" concept has become very popular but often undermines the entire selection process. First, movers on a mass walk-through will be afraid to raise vital questions for fear of informing their competitors how they propose to do the move. The mass walk-through also encourages unrealistically low bids by intimidating those who participate into second guessing their competitors' bids. Finally, the mass walk-through penalizes those movers who are thorough and detailed, and, subsequently, slower in taking their inventory. To keep pace with the pack, they are forced to take shortcuts or overlook important details.
If you follow the procedures outlined above, you will have taken a giant step toward being a hero--congratulated for a job well done--and not the scapegoat for all the things that went wrong.
About the Author…
Ed Katz, president of the International Office Moving Institute (IOMI®), has been called the guru of office moving. His innovative and efficient techniques have been featured in The Wall Street Journal. He’s been published in more than 40 other magazines and newspapers.
His book, COMMERCIAL RELOCATION, won the “Award of Excellence—Distinguished Author” by the International Facility Managers Association (IFMA).
IOMI® is not a marketing alliance, a trade association, or a moving company, but an independent, unbiased office moving resource and training organization beholden to no one. It has no members.
IOMI® teaches movers the best practice methods for:
• Minimizing the risk of damage to walls, floors, doors, and elevators during a move. IOMI® Certified Office Movers® and Certified Project Managers® learn the how to install extensive building protection.
• Minimizing the risk of damage to furniture and electronics during a move. IOMI® Certified Office Movers® and Certified Project Managers® learn how to wrap every monitor, printer, CPU, server, and copier with two layers of anti-static bubble wrap (with the bubbles facing the bubbles) instead of pad-wrapping computers with filthy furniture pads.
• Estimating accurately--timing is of the essence on an office move. If the mover doesn’t finish on time, it can cost their customer thousands of dollars of nonproductive downtime. IOMI® Certified Office Movers® and Certified Project Managers® learn an estimating formula that’s based upon man-hours instead of the unreliable method typically used on household moves that’s based on “cube” and “pounds.” The IOMI® proprietary estimating formula is uncannily accurate because it factors in not only volume but unique origin and destination logistics.
How can you verify a prospective mover or project manager is IOMI®-certified? If they can’t produce credentials, check our list of Certified Office Movers® at https://officemoves.com/international-office-moving-institute-iomi-certified-movers/ . If they aren’t on our list, they aren’t IOMI®-trained.
For more information: International Office Moving Institiute
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