Gina Blitstein Article

Gina Blitstein Article
Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Moving On Up: Proactive Tips for Relocating Your Business

Moving On Up: Proactive Tips for Relocating Your Business

Perhaps you’ve outgrown your current facility. Maybe your present location has changed in an unpleasant way. Your rent’s gone up; you want to conduct business in a new location; your business needs different amenities… Whatever the reason, you’ve found yourself in need of relocating your existing business.

Moving is a stressful event - whether it’s for your home or your business. The project of relocation can seem insurmountable when you begin to realize all the details involved. You can probably use all the advice you can get from the experiences of those who have braved and survived a business relocation themselves.

I recently interviewed Rochelle, a hair salon owner in Tinley Park, Illinois, to learn about her experiences in relocating her shop to a new town last year. This move was the latest of three business relocations for Rochelle. Her best advice: Many potential moving-related problems can be avoided by taking some proactive measures. She was kind enough to share some of the wisdom she’s gleaned throughout her three relocations:

Start with local government. Visit a prospective new location’s City Hall to learn about that town’s manner of dealing with its businesses. At the Business Department, you can:

  1. Learn about available, appropriate commercial properties for your business
  2. Learn if business licenses are available in that town for your type of business (some towns put a cap on businesses they consider already well-represented there)
  3. Discover what inspections and permits you’ll need to receive your business license to operate in that town
  4. Learn about signage regulations to determine if you can use your existing ones or if you’ll need to choose and budget for new signs
  5. Access lists of contractors who are licensed by the town to provide construction services in compliance with the town’s codes
  6. Gain an overall sense of the support you can expect as a business owner in that town

Set yourself a reasonable timeline. There are so many details which are dependent upon other details that it’s best to build in as much of a time buffer between phases as possible. If, for example, construction is delayed or simply takes longer than expected, you won’t have to reschedule inspections if enough “wiggle room” has been allotted.

Don’t be overly anxious to sign that lease! Even if you’ve been able to find an ideal location on your own, don’t sign the lease until you’ve spoken with the fine folks at the Business Department. They’ll inspect the property to ensure that it’s up to code. The town won’t allow a landlord to rent the property until any required repairs or renovations are made - so it behooves them to fix it up so they can earn revenue from it. If you’ve already signed a lease with a landlord, however, and the property isn’t presently up to code, he or she will have no particular motivation to take care of those issues for you. Keep the issue between the town and the landlord so it doesn’t become your problem.

Learn as much as you can about your business “neighbors” before you decide on a location. You want to know that the businesses in close proximity demonstrate pride in their location and that their presence will add, rather than detract, from the desirability of yours. Take a close look at the businesses who operate near the location you’re considering. Are they clean, tidy and well-maintained? Do they create or tolerate uncomfortable circumstances like noise, fumes, loiterers or large crowds? Do they have adequate parking available?

Establish a presence in the community, even before you open for business. The new location is new to you - and you to it. Begin shopping, dining, recreating and conducting business in your new location as soon as possible. That way, by the time you’re moved in, you’ll no longer be - or feel like - a stranger. Local businesses provide excellent word-of-mouth advertising opportunities, so it will behoove you to join the Chamber of Commerce and other organizations that will provide the opportunity to meet other business people and residents. You’ll incur less ramp-up time after your doors are open because you’ll already be well established.

Wherever your business’s new location is, there’s a lot you can do ahead of time to make the transition smoother. Take it from our hair salon owner, Rochelle, you learn something with every move. Her final advice is to take the attitude of the town toward new business very seriously. You want a governmental entity behind you that’s ready, willing and able to support your business efforts in the community. When you find that, you’ve found a good home to grow your business.

What have you learned from a business relocation?

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