What I learned from moving to new business premises
Quick success meant BullionByPost outgrew its commercial premises. Having moved recently founder Rob Halliday-Stein shares his experience
Name: Rob Halliday-Stein
Started in: 2008
Company description: An online bullion dealer, which delivers gold and silver bars and coins through the post.
Describe your business challenge
After reporting a record turnover of £87m earlier this year, it was clear that the company had outgrown its previous headquarters, and it was time to move on.
What steps did you take to move business premises successfully?
- We negotiated hard. And not just on the headline rent. Ask the landlord for a contribution to the fit-out, a rent-free or reduced rent period, or a combination of all three. It’s often the norm to get a rent-free period but the landlord is unlikely to offer much more without being pushed. Think about your long-term plan and what suits you. If cashflow is tight then go for a longer rent-free period and/or a larger contribution towards the fit out. However you will probably end up paying more rent in later years. Keep a close eye on how much the new premises are going to cost you over the long term (for example five years) under different deals.
- Considered the lease term. How long can/do you want to commit? There are lots of reasons you may need to move in the future. In general, the longer the lease, the lower the rent. However it is a big commitment so negotiate an appropriate lease break. It could be a big advantage if there is the possibility to add more space later.
- We planned our fit out carefully in order to keep a tight control on costs. Any additions or adjustments which you make along the way will be very expensive so we tried to ensure our plans were as detailed as possible. We drafted a detailed specification and put it out for tender to ensure a competitive rate. Not only will this keep costs down, it will also reduce the number of decisions you have to make later and help lower the stress.
- We scheduled time for the move. It may sound obvious but don’t underestimate the amount of time and effort it will take to move out of your old location. We looked to get as much as possible set up within the new premises before we moved in. For example, make sure that the IT and phone systems are up and running well beforehand. Consider when will cause minimal disruption to the business, perhaps you can move over a weekend?
What three key questions should other companies ask themselves before dealing with the issue?
- How long do you plan to be there for?
- How much do you anticipate increasing the workforce?
- What changes will be needed to ensure the space works for you?
What one piece of advice do you think they should take on board?
Be picky. It’s a buyers’ market and there is a lot of choice out there at the moment, so you can afford to be choosy about the premises you go for. You want to find somewhere that is right for you as it’s a big decision and a big investment. You must put the time in to look at the options out there and think about what you need from the premises.
Also, remember to consider the location and its impact on your staff, suppliers and customers. Think about how far it is from your current base and the quality of transport links.
Is there anything you would do differently?
For us, moving to a new, larger location in Birmingham city centre was definitely the right thing to do. We underestimated the amount of time and effort it takes to move when combined with the everyday challenge of keeping the business going. However, now that we are settled in, we are delighted with our new home and it signals a very exciting time for BullionByPost.
Action point: Search shared workspaces and assess if it could be worth co-working with other start-ups (external site, opens in new tab)