Question: Why (and when) should I move to a commercial location?
Steve’s Solution: It all depends on your “end goals”.
Did you as a owner/operator prefer running the biz from your home? Did you rent/move to an office/shop as soon as you had a chance? How much did it cost you to rent a small office?
Pondering My Options Here in Still Chilly Michigan
I ran our cleaning and restoration business out of my house for about seven years with my long suffering wife answering the phone. This obviously kept our overhead down but brought with it other problems. However, even so, Sioux was ambivalent about us moving the business away from home from a cost standpoint.
But when we had grown to two trucks full time and lots of restoration work (including full fire pack-outs jammed into our two car garage, along with all our other cleaning and restoration equipment and supplies) even Sioux said “enough”. (I think she was tired of four or five technicians leering at her over their cups of coffee in our kitchen every morning!)
Simply put, making the jump to an off-site commercial building for your cleaning operation is more of an emotional and life-style decision as it is a financial and business one. However, I bit the bullet and scraped together the money to make a down payment on an office/warehouse. A scary step but one of the best things I ever did. Why? Let me count the ways!
1. My wife was extremely grateful. Moving the business out of our house helped our marriage because as we all know when “momma isn’t happy nobody is happy”!
2. We became MUCH more efficient from a production standpoint.
3. Our employees AND our customers respected the business more.
4. The move forced me to run my company as a “real business” and develop a Business Infrastructure.
5. We saved money on the two or three heater cores we had to replace every year when the heaters didn’t keep us from freezing the truck mounts outside! (The office came with a heated garage, a practice I recommend highly.) Not to mention the increased production of never having freeze-ups and a MUCH happier work force by not having to start frozen cold service trucks in the morning.
6. The company brought a lot more money when I decided to sell it and retire from full time business.
7. I kept the real estate when I sold the company and leased it to the new owner. Now the property is paid off and provides a significant part of my monthly retirement income!
P.S. I forgot to put the most important advantage of getting the business out of your home. If you are a workaholic like me it is just too darn easy to keep working when it is right there. Kind of like I am doing right now on a Saturday afternoon here in the Dominican Republic where I am SUPPOSED to be semi-retired! Hmmm … maybe I will never be cured!
P.P.S. On the other hand, if you want to stay small as an owner/operator cleaning business and just enjoy life without employee hassles, it’s great (and much cheaper) to run out of your house. (But do yourself a favor and still build a heated garage.) I do think the worst of all possible worlds is having employees and working out of your home. Your family deserves their privacy.