So you've gone through the meticulous process of finding office space that suits your needs both now and into the near future. You've made the most out of your collaboration with your TenantBase advisor and success awaits your organization in its new home. Given all the time and effort invested throughout your search and lease negotiations, now is not the time to take a haphazard approach with your choice of getting settled in the space and coordinating your move.
Although the actual moving process itself can often slip through the cracks given the necessary attention devoted to the search process, a poorly planned and mistake-ridden move can sour what should otherwise be a momentous occasion for your organization. TenantBase has collected six questions you should always ask your commercial movers before shaking any hands and signing on the dotted line.
1. What Kind of Liability Coverage and Licenses Does Your Company Have?
Mistakes happen to even the most organized and careful of people. The same goes for commercial moving companies – even those with the most exemplary of track records can make mistakes, break equipment, or even lose items on occasion. No matter if you're moving to the building next door or to the opposite side of the continent, your commercial moving company of choice should always have a variety of liability coverages available to you. Licensed interstate moving companies are required by law to, at the very least, offer both Full Value Protection and Released Value coverage.
- Full Value Protection: The commercial mover is liable for the stated replacement value of misplaced or damaged items for the entirety of your shipment. This choice is the most comprehensive of the two with costs that vary by mover as well as the specifics of your move.
- Released Value Protection: The most affordable coverage available as it is integrated into the base price of your quote and requires no added fees or charges. This coverage is very much an example of the saying “you get what you pay for.”Your protection is minimal with the mover assuming liability on no more than $.60 per pound per item moved.
Aside from mandatory coverage options, you also have a wide range of additional protection packages offered through a third-party insurance company that typically has an existing relationship with the moving company. Before electing such coverages, look through any existing commercial property policies you might have to see if any moving liability protection is already built-in.
In addition to coverage that directly protects your moved items, you should also make sure the moving company provides you with a current and valid proof of insurance. There should be no hesitance to respond to your request since every legitimate, fully licensed commercial moving company should be able to provide you proof of their own insurance policy.
Similarly, specifically ask the moving company if they are properly licensed to avoid the fly-by-night movers that are too common in today's marketplace and make their living by scamming well-intentioned organizations like yours. Every commercial interstate moving company should have a valid license number from the US Department of Transportation which you can quickly check through their website.
Commercial movers that only operate within a specific state are regulated by that state and not the federal government. If that's the case with your commercial movers they should be able to provide you with proof of their current and valid state license. Each state has its own set of regulations and requirements for commercial movers. Some will be far more stringent than others with their requirements.
2. Will You Reinstall the Furniture in the New Space and Do You Have Your Own Installers?
Imagine what it would be like to start your organization’s next chapter in its new office space having to sort through a mountain of disassembled furniture and equipment that’s waiting for you to organize, arrange, and reassemble it. There are many more productive ways to spend your time than figuring out which chairs go where and how to put a row of desks back together.
To prevent such a thing, an end-to-end commercial mover is your best option if you place a high value on continuity and making the move between offices as seamless as possible. Unpacking and reassembling office items yourself largely negates the benefits of investing in a full move service. Such circumstances make you susceptible to the very same delays and hazards that prompted you to choose commercial movers in the first place rather than packing up the office yourself.
As convenient as a commercial mover that dismantles and reassembles your workstations might be, proceed with caution and make certain the mover has the knowledge and experience to handle that immense responsibility properly. Many of the larger commercial moving companies have specially trained teams dedicated to this particular task, able to work on a wide variety of workstation systems. Choosing a mover with this expertise can significantly increase the efficiency, speed, and overall satisfaction with your move and business continuity between your old and new office space.
3. Are You Able to Provide Business Continuity?
Since we're on the subject of business continuity, an effective end-to-end move includes more than just workstations and chairs but should also include the mover packing, shipping, and setting up your IT systems to minimize as much downtime as possible. This requires a particular skill set of the moving company and is another item that you should include in your due diligence before choosing a mover. Choose a commercial moving company that can provide you a move plan that is tailored to your needs and schedule, holding itself accountable for any delays that might impact your productivity.
4. Will You Be Packing Our Office for Us?
Another point to consider before choosing a moving company is whether or not it's worth it to use a more expensive but comprehensive moving package. Some commercial movers will only move prepacked items and disassembled furniture. It’s easier on your budget but adds to the stress and time consumption within your move. If you choose to handle the packing yourself, remember that you won't have insurance to cover any breakage or misplaced items.
A new color copier that slips off a dolly as you pack up your old office could prove to be a costly mistake, one covered by insurance if that same mistake occurred on the part of a commercial mover. Asking your team members to help move furniture and pack heavier items can be a violation of local health and safety regulations. If someone was to injure themselves in the process, you could be subject to a significant fine as well as sick pay while the injured employee recovers.
Aside from the liability exposure, asking your staff pack up the office also increases your organization's downtime as you are keeping those employees from performing their regular job responsibilities. Although harder on the budget, a commercial mover that packs your office items for you saves valuable time for your company and employees and optimizes your business continuity.
5. Are There Any Items Your Team Will Not Move?
There are certain types of items that a commercial moving company will not be allowed to handle for you. For example, if part of your facility is a warehouse that stores alcoholic beverages or you are a retailer that sells liquor, many states prohibit commercial movers from carrying such items.
If you find yourself in such a circumstance, you'll need to create a strategy for the items that either the movers cannot legally handle for you or those that you prefer to move on your own. These types of items might include a company safe, file cabinets with sensitive materials, or network servers with valuable and proprietary intellectual property. If you do have sensitive items that should not be part of the standard move, take them out of the office before the movers arrive to eliminate the possibility of them being packed and moved with everything else.
6. What Is the Moving Estimate and Are There Any Hidden Costs?
The commercial moving industry does not have a universal quoting system or process. Different professional moving companies can have a variety of ways to arrive at a quote. Before signing a contract with the moving company ask what is involved in their estimate process. Ideally you want the movers to establish their quote by visiting your current office to see what types of items require moving and how much of it you have. The personalized quote they provide you will be based on what actually needs packing and moving and not just a blind estimate.
However a moving company arrives at their estimate, understand if the quote is binding and establishes a set price for the move that the actual cost cannot exceed. A binding quote is a legal document that protects you from additional fees for unspoken or unexpected details that might arise over the course of the move. In essence, a binding quote protects you from any unwelcomed financial surprises that can wreak havoc on your moving budget.
A moving company that offers non-binding estimates can still make mistakes. In fact, the majority of today's commercial movers use non-binding quotes as a norm. Simply put, a non-binding estimate means the price of your move is subject to change and is dependent on realized costs on the part of the moving company.
This type of estimate could end up working for or against you, depending on whether or not your move requires significant heavy lifting and additional resources to move your office items and equipment. If you prefer to have a firm cap that your total moving cost cannot exceed, choose a professional moving company that offers binding written estimates is probably in your best interest.
Be sure to ask what potential add-ons and services the binding estimate includes, such as travel time, stairways, and any other factors that could impact time and cost to the mover. All such add-ons should always be transparent and clearly explained in the binding estimate they provide you.
Your organization’s journey to new office space includes more than just the search and lease negotiations. The efficiency of the actual move into your new space can create a positive first step that can serve as an important springboard towards bigger and better things for your organization. Be deliberate with your choice of professional moving company, ask the six questions discussed to each potential candidate, and keep looking to TenantBase for additional guidance on all of your commercial property needs.