We’ve moved to Truro!
The office is the beating heart of the company, it is where the business decisions are made, and the company direction realised. Though some businesses can operate independent of a central office or via the utilisation of a virtualised environment, a business location provides an area for clients to relate to as your company base and an area where your employees can feel is their environment for work; as a result the outward appearance and inward condition of an office is paramount to the presentation and perception of the business.
When siting your business in a location there are numerous factors that may impact your eventual choice, examples of these are listed below:
- How large is your business? This should be coupled with the question, how likely are you to grow and in what time period? When starting a business, cost is key and a large amount of paid for, unoccupied space, will only negatively impact the financials of the company and prevent investment in impactful growth.
- What are your business needs? – It is imperative that the accommodation meets your company requirements, for example is your business stock heavy? If you hold stock on behalf of a client or as part of sales this needs to be stored in a manner that is accessible and neat, this means space. As an extension to this you may be a business that needs space to meet its obligations generally, such as a vehicle repair company or hot-tub sales, where your managed stock is generally large, meaning your location options are restricted.
- Location – This is key as it raises four core questions, where is your business located in terms of your clients? where is your business located in terms of your (or potential) employees? What does your business location say about your business and how much can you stretch to afford (indeed should you stretch)? Though it would appear tempting to keep costs of accommodation as low as possible, this may have an impact to company earning potential. If your company is difficult to find, if it is unpalatable to talented candidate employees or if it’s overly expensive, this must be considered. This is a balancing act, rent a huge, impressive headquarters could look good, but if you can’t offer a good salary to potential staff and you are in a difficult place. Alternatively, rent a cheap location that is difficult to find or in disrepair and both clients and staff may prove difficult to obtain.
- Building support and costs – What are the conditions of your rental contract, is there a service charge or management fees? What are the “exit” clauses of your rental contract? Are there restraints that are prohibitive to business operations (for example no signage)? Are you sharing the building or the utilities with another business? Will (when) rates or rent increase and buy how much?
- How is your area viewed or considered (generally)? – If you are adopting a professional technology business or consultation practice, it would not be expected to see that business operating from a warehouse or garage. Similarly, a high-end garage could not be expected to sell cars worth tens of thousands from a rusty shack on a housing estate. The expectation your office creates is paramount to your sales position, if a client is dealing with a start-up company, they will expect start-up prices.
It was considering these points that enabled n-Coders to move to effect positive change in both its business operation and its status.
As a Company, n-Coders began as a one-man operation working from a desk in the Pool Innovation Centre (PIC) in Pool, however as the project responsibilities grew and the staff increased, the need for additional space was recognised and so the company expanded into additional offices, covering the growth needed and the growth expected.
The Pool Innovation Centre
The Pool Innovation Centre (PIC) began life as a European/Tax funded enterprise to support and foster small business in Cornwall, providing centrally administered office facilities such as meeting rooms, internet and network connectivity, postal services, parking, kitchen and toilets as well as catering. This was enhanced further by providing free networking events to allow businesses to be introduced to clients as well as partner with related fields of business, all for the relatively low cost of business accommodation (for example business rates were excluded). Whilst the PIC had been a great start for us, it was turning out to be a limiting factor on growth.
So how to solve the difficulty?
Though the solution may seem to present itself, the idea of “just moving” is an over-simplification, after all licenses were in place, current clients knew where n-Coders was, telephone services would change and moving costs would be introduced. So, what do you do?
Stage 1 was recognising that the rooms occupied were not of business interest and so had to be handed back to the PIC, reducing cost burden. This was a withdrawal conducted over 2-3 months moving from 3 rooms down to 2 and then 2 down to 1. This left developers in an operational environment that was someone less spacious than was used to:
The Office Move
The decision was clear that a move had to take place that allowed n-Coders to expand and manage its own facilities. The directorship knew that the company had to take the data realised by its assessment of the PIC and the considerations of what a company location means to a business and find the right space in the right spot in order to maximise the company potential.
Selecting the location
The location identified was Threemilestone Industrial Estate, Truro. This gave a perfect location for access to the industrial heartland of Cornwall, without increasing the burden of traffic into the central part of the city. It allowed the best location for clients travelling into the office, being more central to Cornwall and provided the best location to access employee talent as well as student talent. This location was only half the advantage however, the other part of the advantage came in the form of an opportunity to reinvent systems and processes as n-Coders is setup at the new location. By assessing the office prior to the office being established, the redundant processes could be removed and improved where possible; thus, applying our craft of optimisation to our own business practice.
The new offices were approximately 2.5 times the size of n-Coders previous offices with dedicated meeting rooms, kitchen and toilet facilities, an entire floor (and entry) dedicated to n-Coders operations. This allowed n-Coders to arrange its business into managed sections.
Cost-Benefit Analysis of Office Move
So what did n-Coders pay for this advantage? Surely the cost increased the risk to the company immeasureably and delayed project delivery? Well, no.
The cost of the new office was less expensive that the room shown in Fig 2 by circa £50, however the company incur the recurring costs of electric, water, internet and buildings insurance and the one off costs (in terms of money and time) of the move. The additional recurring costs added £90 to the rent, placing n-Coders at a +£40 a month bill compared to its previous location. One off costs for the move totalled circa £200, however as the move was carried out over a weekend and a lot of the arrangements made prior to leaving the previous offices, little to no impact was made to project progression.
In contrast, the additional £40 a month and one off expense of £200 bought the company the flexibility to manage its services, control over its parking and access, a dedicated meeting room, a presentation room and its own kitchen and toilet facilities. Further to this it gave the company a single point of approach for its customers on an industrial estate that suited the business genre as well as placing the business in an area that gave it access to the through traffic into the City and placing n-Coder nearer to the businesses it supports in North Cornwall.
In all, the move placed the company in a stronger position, breaking the shackles of third-party control and allowing it to thrive as a provider of business optimisation solutions.