By: Dr Gad Akwensivie
Relocating a business premises in Ghana can be a challenging decision to make but, it may be necessary for business success. When you relocate for the right reasons, to the right location, you may be able to grow your business in ways that were not possible before. In this insider article, DR. GAD AKWENSIVIE discusses the Why, When, Where and How in relocating your business.
Relocating your business premises can be a laborious and expensive decision. However, with some planning and focus on the key points discussed in this article, relocation of premises should be rewarding to your business. Relocation may not only be a sign of business growth but may also be strategic for taking your business to the next level.
Businesses, firms and companies move from one premises to another for various reasons, the foremost reason being because the current one doesn’t offer enough floor space. In that case, one of two factors comes into play: (1) either the surrounding property does not have enough open space to accommodate additional construction works or (2) Management has discussed and determined that expanding the existing site would not be cost effective.
Sometimes, businesses relocate because operating costs have made it uncompetitive and the company is disadvantaged compared to her competitors. Many times, businesses relocate to get closer to a large segment of their market or to establish a presence in a new market. Long distances to and from market means time and money.
For example, if a significant portion of your market is at the University of Ghana, Legon, you may be able to save money in transportation costs and reduce product delivery times if you relocate closer from Tema, for instance, to East Legon, Madina or Haatso.
Some businesses like to cluster around others within the same industry. For example, businesses – such as publishing houses, printing presses and stationery dealer – are relocating to Accra New Town just to be closer to others and to raw materials. These locations also benefit from goodwill created by the presence of printing presses located there over time.
Where to relocate
Where you relocate your business is important because it will impact on sales, the cost of running your business and ultimately on your profit margin. You should, therefore, think through and decide on the best location, and an approved Valuer or Estate Surveyor will advise you on that.
In any case, the main factors to consider when relocating are communication, transportation and telecommunication. You should also be mindful of access to raw materials, space – i.e., land, labour, safety and security, waste disposal; as well as the availability of government grants, incentives offered in Free Zones, etc. You should also be mindful of the availability and reliability of social services such as electricity and fresh water.
How to relocate
What every our reason for relocating is, once you decide on the area, start planning. Get a Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS) approved Valuer, or Estate Surveyor, to assist in identifying suitable accommodation to fit your budget. He will also assist you to evaluate the floor space of your new premises and even help you plan how you want to allocate the space.
At least, within 5 months, prior to the relocation, you should make sure all employees are well aware of when the change will take place. This will enable them make necessary adjustments. For example, it will be important information for those workers who may want to relocate closer to the new premises to save on the cost and time for commuting to work.
If you plan to engage the services of a moving company, call at least two weeks in advance. Collect several price quotes and check for proof of insurance. Note that, a moving company will not make decisions for you. They will pack everything they are shown, even including rubbish bins with trash in them.
In June last year, a moving company simply unplugged a refrigerator and moved it with all the food inside. So, remember to empty all perishable items else you could end up with rotting food. Do well to number all the boxes. Clearly label boxes both on tops and the sides so you can locate and identify them quickly in case you need to unpack. If you just mark the tops, you will find it harder to locate items quickly if cartons are stacked on one another; and, if any box contains special document which require special handling you should mark them as “fragile”.
The next thing you need to do is to begin telling people and commence work on updating your contact Information. Usually, the quickest, easiest and cheapest is to do changes to your website. You should take steps to announce your relocation plan. The other time, I recommended the use of newspapers and TV to inform people a company was moving and it helped. The clear communication sent was helpful in reducing disruptions that would, otherwise, have occurred between the company and their clients. The information must say where you currently are and where you are going and directions to the new place. You must state when you will become fully operational again if there will be a break in business.
Make use of all available media avenues to spread the word. Make use of e-mail contacts, website, flyers, blogs, the social media, direct mail, newspaper advertisements, press releases and the like. Modify your online profile and official contact details and revise your company’s listing on Google. Also, update all Social media accounts to reflect the changes. Remember to change and highlight the details of your address in the email signature section. If you are expanding, include a message that seeks to thank your customers for their patronage and stress on your commitment to providing top notch service at your new address. You will be surprised old customers will defy distance to maintain relationship.
Importantly, you should notify your bankers, other statutory bodies and service providers such as the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Registrar Generals Department, Electricity Company, Ghana Water, etc. in writing so they update their records to avoid impersonation and allied problems. You should assign someone to search for your business online by name and notify referral directories to update your contact information. Let your P.A. or Secretary make a list of everyone you do business with and everywhere you advertise so you do not forget to update something critical.
An effective way of planning your relocation is make a checklist of everything that needs to be done taking particular note of tasks, contracts and pending orders. Doing this early will save time on getting your business back on track after you have moved.
When to relocate
The recommended times for transferring are over weekends to ensure minimum disruptions to your business. If your business is such that weekends are not suitable, aim to move on a holiday or an off-peak time of the day. If you will need new directional signs, order them early so that they arrive on time to be mounted before your business moves.
During the final week, make sure that everything is in place so that once employees enter the new premises they don’t have to spend much time adjusting.
When parting, leave a banner with the inscription “We Have Moved”. Also leave some flyers with security personnel and neighbours at your old location and request that they display them in their windows or at the point-of-sale.
Even though you are gone, give existing customers an incentive to visit your new business premises. Offer them incentives, promotions (e.g. buy-2-get-1-free, 10 percent – 15 percent discounts, etc.) to push existing customers to stop by your new location. Make sure these offers are time-bound so that they have a reason to check out your new premises early.
Host an event to attract both new and existing customers: Give customers a reason to fall in love with your new premises. Retailers, bars, restaurants and other food service businesses in particular, can benefit from hosting events. It could be anything. The aim is to get customers visit. If you don’t have much to say yourself, just bring in a guest speaker, artist, a vendor or supplier as the main speaker.
Don’t forget your old customers who may not have visited you in a while particularly in the run-up to your movement. Your new location and premises may be more convenient to some of your older customers. So, consider running a campaign that targets, not only your active customer base, but those who may not have engaged you in a while. Special offers and other incentives specifically targeted at that group with a – “we would be happy to see you again” – message may just do the trick.
Just as with planning a wedding, some things will get overlooked. Avoid getting worried about every little thing that goes wrong. Take a day at a time and tackle your relocation challenge just as you packed your boxes – one at a time. With these tips as a guide, relocating your business is more likely to be smooth and rewarding.
The author is a Land and Property Expert. A land Administration Professional and Specialist in the Valuation of Land and Buildings for Sale, Purchase, Lease, Rental, Letting, Mortgage, Probate, Insurance, Compulsory Acquisition, Rating or Taxation. Telephone: 0244 843 997. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website:www.gadakwensivie.com