by Neil Gallagher, Sales Director Easynet Connect
After a long period of stagnation, the commercial property sector is finally seeing signs of recovery. The Cluttons' Commercial Property Market Outlook Report for July 2010 reported that in Q2 the value of transactions in office real estate had returned to a level last seen in early 2008, before the recession took hold  . After sitting tight during the downturn, many firms are finding that they can negotiate lower rent rates or rent-free periods if they relocate. A rise in remote and flexible working has also enabled some to consolidate their offices into less floor space, and make savings by moving to smaller premises.
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This presents a wealth of opportunity for VARs, who by successfully managing office re-locations on behalf of their clients can not only benefit in the immediate-term from a boost to revenues, but stand to gain longer-term contracts by winning the trust of potential retained clients.
Competition, however, is fierce and resellers need to convince customers that they will take the hassle out of an office move, leaving them to get on with business as usual. Here is a quick guide on how to structure a relocation plan:
- Manage the move, and start with a timetable
With the huge range of services that need to be organised to set up an office, coordinating them to one start date can be tough. Start negotiations with service suppliers early in order to allow for installation time, but bear in mind that lease negotiations can drag on until near the move date, so you may need to keep your service suppliers informed and move start dates with them if necessary. Think about the services that you will definitely need from day 1, prioritise them, and look out for providers who can offer a quick installation guarantee.
- Choose your suppliers carefully
Remember that it is your reputation that is on the line, and if a supplier does not deliver on its promises and fails to provide a key service on deadline, it will be you the client blames. Ensure that you partner with reliable suppliers who put customer service first, and can give clear guarantees on installation dates.
- Exploit short-term contracts
An office move presents the perfect opportunity to re-negotiate supplier contracts, and take advantage of fierce competition for new business. Show your client that you can get them the best deal by finding the suppliers that offer no-minimum-term agreements, giving them a flexible contract and more control over their financial commitments.
- Help your clients be nimble and efficient - avoid building infrastructure that they don't need
Also during this period of re-evaluating suppliers, see whether you can help your customer become more flexible by outsourcing wherever possible. For example, why not see whether you can move servers into secure data centres, or move towards remote network management through an ISP. There is also an opportunity to help them embrace new technology and systems that can save money, such as cloud computing services. If you can sell them the right services for their business, it is likely to mean more business for you.
Cluttons Commercial Property Market Outlook Report - July 2010, p.1