Whether you want to move from your home to an office, or your business has outgrown its current space, you may be considering making capital improvements. But there are a few things to consider before doing so, from getting employees on board to upgrading your boardroom. Use this article as a blueprint for your next improvement so that you can feel confident you’re making the right moves.
Should you renovate or relocate?
It’s a vital question — and there’s no one “right” answer. The good news is that there are a few simple ways to tell if you’re ready to update your space. If you’re not sure which is right for your business, use these lists as guides:
It may be better to renovate when you:
- Have high-priority fixes — i.e. a faulty electrical system or an off-brand storefront sign
- Know a new appearance will draw in more customers
- Are in a location that works for your business
- Need more efficient equipment or minor upgrades
- Think new furniture, artwork or lighting can make the impact you want without moving
It may be time to move when you:
- Have more business than you can handle
- Have employees ready to handle more customers (or you can afford to hire more people)
- Are having trouble with your landlord
- Have been working from home and need to set work/life boundaries
- Need more space to meet with clients
- Find through research that the market is growing
How to do more with your current space
If you’re considering embarking on renovations, here are some tips:
- Improve what you’ve got: Small renovations, such as new equipment or furniture, can increase the longevity of your business without costing a pretty penny.
- Keep in mind how changes affect employees: Update employees regularly so they know how the renovation will affect their schedules.
- Remember your customers: Try using images of the office under construction to engage your customer base while keeping them informed of changes.
- Consider whether your equipment needs an efficiency-boosting upgrade: Sometimes it’s not the space that needs a refresh, but the equipment in it. Improvements there may make your business feel like a brand-new venture.
How renovations can boost a business
Lovett’s Soul Food, an Alton, Illinois, restaurant that was featured in Season 3 of Deluxe’s Small Business Revolution — Main Street, was born of a family’s passion for food. After it transitioned from a walk-up window to a leased dine-in space, owner Brad Chavours did everything himself from cooking to seating customers. In time, the restaurant needed a way to encourage new diners and make everyday tasks easier.
Lovett’s knew a remodel was the way to go because the owners loved their current space, as did customers. Purchasing a new fridge and freezer made the kitchen more efficient and increased the amount of food storage, and a remodeled entrance area allowed customers to await their takeout orders without creating a traffic jam at the front of the house. Additionally, painting the walls took the restaurant “from boring to bougie,” as Chavours says. To top it off, a new awning helped drive traffic and new customers into the store.
Since the remodel, Lovett’s enjoys how the space and equipment helps serve the new customers — all without needing to move to a new location.
LIkewise, Shampooches, a dog grooming salon in Alton, Illinois, that was also featured in Season 3 of the “Main Street” series, discovered that updated equipment and dividing its space differently provided extra safety and productivity for the salon. In addition, a new washer and dryer cut down washing time from six hours to a mere 20 minutes — a massive increase in productivity for the business.
Shampooches also needed renovations to handle more clients and turn a profit. These came in the form of updates to the waiting area — such as dog portraits, a retail space and warm colors — and they made the space welcoming to customers.
With the renovations complete, owner Alicia Jeffreys is excited for the future and about the time she’s already saving. Her dog grooming salon is enjoying the increase in business and has even been able to hire another groomer to help handle the bigger workload.
If you’re thinking about renovating
- Make sure you can afford to temporarily close, or have a plan for continuing business during construction
- Get written permission from your landlord (if applicable) to make physical changes
- Request quotes from local contractors to get a price estimate for bigger changes
When it’s time to move
Sometimes the only way to grow your business is to move to a larger, or even just different, location. Before making that change, however, take these considerations into account:
- Know how you will you finance the change: If you’re hoping the extra space will increase the number of customers you can serve, be sure you have a customer base to fill the new space. Surveys, interviews and social media can clue you in to things like wait times and spacing constraints that bother customers.
- Look at the benefits of buying property: Owning property gives you the benefits of tax deductions, control of the space and not worrying about rent increases
- Consider the benefits of renting: Renting may allow you to get a prime location that would be too expensive to purchase, and it saves time when you don’t have to manage the building alongside managing your business
How to benefit from a business move
Lighthouse Sounds, a recording studio in Alton, Illinois, that was also featured in “Main Street,” moved to a larger space to boost revenue. Even though the new space was costly for owners Jay “Hart” Stanley and Alex St. Cin, they knew the investment was worth it. After all, recording studios make money through bookings, and Stanley and St. Cin needed space to handle more clients.
After the move, the owners have been putting their focus on booking and serving clients, while outsourcing time-consuming work (such as payroll). Since the expansion, they’ve been able to employ six people and spend more time growing their business.
Similarly, barber Miguel Velez III knew his small barber shop was contributing directly to his plateauing sales. The Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania, business owner featured in “Main Street” Season 2 had plans to quadruple his space to bring in more business, but there was a catch. Velez needed more customers to generate the revenue to afford the expansion.
To accomplish this, Velez needed a refreshed brand, complete with a new website and social media strategy. After these efforts, Miguel’s Riverside Barbershop began attracting more online visitors and more foot traffic.
Thanks to the increase in clients, Velez has been able to move into his new space and hire two more employees. Elevating his marketing efforts made his capital improvements possible.
If you’re thinking about moving
- Have a plan in place to communicate your new location to existing clientele.
- Have a rainy-day fund saved in case of emergency.
- Know what you require in a new space — i.e. a higher-traffic neighborhood, access to a warehouse, etc.
- Know if you have enough money saved up to cover additional expenses if the new space doesn’t immediately bring in as much as you hoped.
Regardless of whether you renovate or move
Before embarking on any capital improvement or business move, ask yourself these questions:
How much space do you actually need? Do you want room for more employees, equipment or meetings?Think about the future of your company and how your needs may change over the coming years. Plan ahead to find a space you can thrive in as you scale up.
What’s your budget and timeline? If your business will have to be closed for a week, a month or longer, will you be able to offset that opportunity cost with profits from your new space? How will you fund the expansion?
Does your potential lease have loopholes? If you’re renting, make sure to investigate your landlord and carefully read everything before you sign.
Finally, don’t forget
- Be transparent about changes with employees and customers.
- Focus your marketing efforts to bring awareness to your new or renovated space.
- Don’t only look at recent success. Look at previous months or years to make sure you have a complete picture of your financials.
- Don’t do everything yourself. Ask employees to help research contractors or the price of hiring movers.
- Be realistic about what’s affordable.
Stay tuned for the upcoming season of Small Business Revolution — Main Street to get inspiration for your own capital improvements. This year, the team at Deluxe handles new renovations for a woodworker who needs more space and a climbing gym that could use a lift.
As a business owner, you have to invest in your business. Ensure you have a budget and plan for the future to see your major moves pay off.