Let the Countdown Begin: Key Milestones for Your Business Move

By James A. Schnur, CCIM
President and Designated Managing Broker
Integrated Real Estate Solutions

The relocation process demands increasing time and effort to stay on course once it starts, making it difficult to step back and properly evaluate if all the necessary checks and balances are in place for a successful business move while keeping pace. Executing a successful business relocation requires proactivity, coordination, and precision prior to jumping feet first into the process, which is why it is imperative to establish a move timeline and milestones well ahead of time. 

Defining key business move milestones better outlines realistic expectations for each step of the process and helps business owners stay on budget and time while reducing the chances of downtime and gaps when physically moving between locations. Every relocation has unique challenges to understand and overcome, but understanding the most common milestones and touchpoints for business relocations will also better prepare business owners to pivot and adapt throughout the process for their individual needs.

Outline Budget and Location Necessities (1–6 Months)

In the first one to six months, business owners should dedicate time to aligning location needs with the business’s available relocation budget. Business owners need to take a realistic audit of how many employees will need to be accommodated (now and in the future), the equipment and space requirements necessary to conduct day-to-day operations, specific utility requirements, and location necessitates — such as access to interstates, public transportation, noise requirements, zoning requirements, etc. 

All of the location requirements for the business will then factor into what can be budgeted for the move, as many of the location considerations will play a part in relocation costs. For instance, if specific utilities or infrastructure are necessary to operate equipment, the costs to build out the space and install what is needed should be factored into the initial budget. Different buildings will also have different lease structures available, which can change what needs to be paid upfront and what could be a month-to-month cost, or even which costs are the responsibility of the tenant versus what is handled by the building owner. 

Navigating the location and budget aspects efficiently lays the foundation for the rest of the relocation process — which is why it is best to bring on a tenant representative broker to help. A tenant representative broker specializes in understanding a business’s needs and goals to champion and guide business owners through the relocation process. 

Find, Tour, and Negotiate for Spaces (1–6 Months)

Once the budget is set and the ideal location specifications are clear, it’s time to get into available buildings and spaces to find the perfect fit. Finding the right location takes time (an additional one to six months typically), and even though coordinating site visits, conducting tours, and compiling follow-up notes on spaces feel like a hectic rush from one step to the next, the process itself will be — and should be —methodical and deliberate. 

Make sure to make the most of each visit and tour, preparing thorough questions ahead of time not only about the space but about the shared amenities, surrounding area, and neighboring businesses. Take the extra to visit the space and surrounding areas at different times of day, as well, to assess how the area changes and adapts to different levels of traffic, neighborhood activity, and public transportation access. It will then be time to utilize a request for proposal process to outline and identify the key business terms for each location under consideration which will be utilized for the basis of lease negotiation.

Finalize the Lease (1–3 Months)

Once a location is settled on, it is time to prepare and negotiate the lease terms. Because this process is typically more involved, as any business owner that has navigated a lease can attest to, it is recommended to engage more closely with a tenant representative broker to ensure that the lease terms are equitable for both parties and to help protect the interests of the business as a tenant in the agreement. 

Negotiating the intricate language within lease agreements while understanding what provisions and allowances are available for a business to take advantage of requires working with the right team of professionals with the knowledge and experience to provide adequate support. This not only secures the terms for the current lease agreement but sets the expectation and standards for future renewals and renegotiations.

Build Out (3–12 Months)

The lease is signed and the space is officially turned over to the business. At this point, it’s time to personalize and finalize the space so that it is ready for a smooth transition once employees arrive. 

The amount of time and the expense for the build-out can vary quite a bit as it depends largely on the type of space being rented or owned and the type of work being conducted within the space. If a business is relocating to a space where only cosmetic or aesthetic additions need to be made (painting, flooring, cleaning, furnishing, re-arranging, etc.), then building the space out could take a few weeks to a few months. 

If the space is closer to a shell condition (fully unfinished) or requires constructive remodeling and installation of specific equipment and utilities, the process will take much longer — up to a year or more with multiple teams working together. While the process of the build-out can run into challenges, the general planning of the build-out shouldn’t be a surprise at this stage, assuming that the time was taken to properly budget and determine location necessities at the beginning of the process. 

Move In (0.5–2 Months)

The final pieces are in place, inspections have been coordinated and passed, and the permits have been secured. This is the point where all the finishing touches are put in place, employees and their equipment are coordinated to be packed and delivered, and with enough planning in the previous stages, work can pick up almost right where it left off. 

From initial planning to unpacking the final box, the process of relocation is a daunting, involved process to attempt for any business. This is why engaging with a commercial tenant representative broker, such as the team of brokers at IRES, keeps the move on time, on budget, and the move-in date clearly in sight at every stage of the process. 

A commercial tenant representative broker provides key insights into which unique factors play the most important role when building a relocation budget, which location requirements should stay top of mind while scouting locations, and which lease terms will be most favorable for a given business. They also support businesses to secure tours of spaces, negotiate on behalf of the business with building owners, and even support the business after finalizing the lease when looking to renew, renegotiate, or find a new location. 

If your business is planning to relocate, reach out to the team of experienced, professional tenant rep brokers at Integrated Real Estate Solutions. They provide solutions and guidance to ensure your business needs and goals are kept at the forefront of your relocation — while planning, touring, and well after move-in. 
Integrated Real Estate Solutions, Inc. provides clients with the in-depth knowledge and experience that is critical to determine the right path to your next move, lease renewal, or strategic repositioning of your real estate portfolio. Contact us or call 847.550.0160 today about your needs, and put our success to work for you.

Author: Jim Schnur

Jim Schnur is the President and Designated Managing Broker of Integrated Real Estate Solutions, Inc. Jim started the firm in 2003 after almost 20 years negotiating and overseeing real estate transactions at Hewlett Packard Co. and Agilent Technologies, Inc.