08/08/2014

By Iain Shipley, Sales & Marketing Director at Managed Office Solutions provider, Portal

Senior executives have waited almost a decade for the tide to turn and for fresh opportunities to achieve real business growth. Growth is great but it also brings its own challenges, such as expanding the operation to cope with increased demand.

Often this means procuring alternative or additional property, but as many seasoned chief executives will know, this typically means an expensive, time-consuming, and resource hungry process that detracts senior personnel from their normal activities – like running the core business.

Furthermore, property changes can often commit a business to signing contracts whose terms and conditions are often inflexible, with unknown longer-term costs such as dilapidation and exits fees that extend well beyond their immediate needs or reasonable business planning horizons.

In the last few years however there has been a sea change in the way that businesses can manage an office move or find extra space. Business owners and CEOs now recognise that in order to reduce this potential risk they need to be aware of all the property options available.

Procuring property can pose a massive drain on executive time

So what exactly does a property move or expansion entail and why can it pose such a massive drain and distraction from ‘business as usual’? Before any discussions on property begin, the first step is to totally understand the business, from issues such as location, staff numbers and timescales through to ensuring the workplace meets operational, corporate culture and financial requirements. Often this is the first time that an organisation has an opportunity to undertake such an exercise and often organisations surprise themselves in terms of what they thought they wanted compared with what they actually need.

Calculating the total office costs

Cost clarity on a property project is another concern that should be addressed. To make an informed decision you need to establish what your total office costs are likely to be over the term of the contract. However, often it is hard to identify and collate all the elements that contribute to the total costs of property, some costs such as rent, which typically represents just a third of the overall cost, are easily identified, whilst others such as project overruns, management time and on-going maintenance are more difficult to determine or are simply unknown.

Introduce a consultative approach to property

One approach to relieving this dilemma is to partner with a third party property consultant who, using ‘a consultative approach’, can effectively shoulder the burden of the entire property process from search, acquisition, fit-out, delivery and on-going maintenance, all of which would otherwise deplete huge amounts of executive time.

By understanding the exact needs of an individual business, such partners can draw on their expertise in property, landlord negotiations and space management, plus access to local and national agents to build a portfolio of applicable properties together with a full cost analysis, with no obligation to the business. A Managed Office Solutions approach removes capital expenditure requirements by encompassing all provision into a monthly charge and is configured to an organisation’s exact requirements, at a location of their choice, and within their financial budget. This allows the organisation to quickly and clearly consider all the options available and have complete cost-clarity on each option, so they are in a far better position to select a property that best fits their business needs now and in the future.

In contrast to the limitations of conventional commercial property options, by taking the consultative route, the accommodation fit-out can also more accurately reflect the specific needs of the organisation, taking into account brand values and also working practices such as mobile staff and collaborative working. This results in a space that not only supports the corporate culture but also encourages greater well-being and productivity and value for the organisation as a whole.

Forget on-going property headaches

The other advantage of using a professional is that unlike trying to project manage it yourself, accommodation delivery, fit-out and management is their core business. Usually tied in with service level agreements, their knowledge of property delivery and project management means that the property is delivered ‘fit-for-purpose’ in the shortest possible time.

The partnership does not end here, as they can also relieve the on-going property management headache throughout the term. These can include the often forgotten issues such as statutory environmental requirements, security, and even issues such as business continuity.

In the event that your business sees a contraction or other change in direction at the end of the contract, they can also provide flexible options to increase or decrease space or even hand the key back and walk away with no exit costs.

By engaging in a professional partnership process you can delegate all responsibility to a third party, enjoy lower costs, reduce the risk of cost-creep, have confidence that the property is optimised to actual rather than perceived needs and most importantly free up valuable senior management resources to focus on what you do best; grow your business.

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