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Hassle free office moving.

What can a CPA firm member do to get the firm moved to a new location on time, within budget and without mishap? Edward R. Katz, chairman, Peachtree Movers, 1376 Chattahoochee Avenue, N.W., Atlanta, 30318, offers some advice on the best approach.

When a firm relocates or expands, it's important that all members be able to resume work as quickly as possible. A vital key to accomplishing this goal is choosing an efficient and reliable mover.

The best way to find a mover is through recommendations. It's a good idea to ask the building managers at the new and old locations to recommend two or three companies each. Property managers have extensive firsthand experience with movers and want to see moves in their buildings run smoothly.

Another source of information is the new building's tenants. In addition, other professionals, such as attorneys or insurance agents, may be able to offer recommendations.


Once firm managers have selected potential bidders, they should take the time to meet individually with each one's representative for an analysis of the move. Practitioners should understand fully how the move will be accomplished. It's appropriate to get estimates from three movers, although in larger moves five may be better. Someone in authority at the firm should meet with each mover during the initial walkthrough or inventory to discuss the firm's needs and ask how the mover will meet them. The same person should meet with all the movers.

It's a bad idea to attempt to save time by asking all bidders to one mass walk-through. Although this herd concept has become popular in recent years as a time-saving measure, it often undermines the entire selection process. Movers are hesitant to raise vital questions to avoid informing their competitors of how they propose to accomplish the move. In addition, this method encourages unrealistically low bids because participants must second-guess competitors. Finally, movers who are thorough and detailed and slower in taking inventories are forced to take shortcuts and overlook important details to keep up with the rest of the pack.

During the inventory, the firm and mover should determine who will be responsible for handling fragile items such as lamps, paintings and plants. They also should decide who will pack common areas (such as the supply room or library), balance and bolt lateral file cabinets and disassemble modular furniture.

Once the inventory is completed, the firm must set a time for the mover's formal presentation. The mover's representative should bring a list of the last five companies whose offices his or her company moved, with contact names and phone numbers. This is better than a list of references that will feature only the mover's most successful jobs. If the move will be very large, the mover should provide a list of comparable moves performed in the last year.

Someone from the firm should call all the references and ask

* The date of the move. If this is one of the mover's five most recent jobs, it should have occurred within the last six weeks.

* How well the mover protected furniture and contents and electronic equipment.

* How the mover protected the offices against damage.

* If the job was completed in the time allotted and if the bills matched the price quote.

The mover's representative also should bring the company's certificate of insurance to the presentation and pictures of the type of equipment to be used.


The firm member overseeing the move should be ready with questions for the mover, including

* What type of cartons will you provide? The best ones fold and are 1.5 to 2 cubic feet. Anything larger will be too heavy for firm employees to handle during packing and unpacking. Ask also about renting instead of buying cartons.

* How will you handle computers and other electronic equipment? The preferred manner is to wrap each component in bubblewrap and place it on a steel or wooden cart for safe transportation. Another popular method is to transport components in a large open box, usually one made of cardboard. This is not quite as safe because the components could be crushed if the load shifted and because the contents are susceptible to water damage if it rains. The most dangerous method is to blanket-wrap them in pads and place them amid the load on the moving van.

* How will you handle our (lateral) horizontal file cabinets? Cabinets can be moved without disturbing their contents using the latest state-of-the-art equipment, a Spider Crane. The crane literally sucks the fully loaded cabinet off the floor and places it on a special steel dolly. This eliminates the risk of mixed-up or lost files and allows 100% access to files immediately before and after the move. It's possible to move partially filled cabinets without the crane if the cabinets don't have false bottoms and if the bottom drawers sit flat on the floor. In this case, at least the top two drawers should be emptied.

* How will you handle our desks? A new invention called Pneumatic Buffers can be inflated in desk drawers, enabling movers to dolly desks on end without removing drawer contents.

* How will you handle our library? The mover, under a firm member's close supervision, should load books onto book bins that resemble bookcases on wheels. These greatly reduce downtime and offer 100% access to books immediately before and after the move. It is much more efficient than packing books into mountains of boxes.

* How will you prevent damage to each office building? Movers should use masonite sheets to protect carpets. They also should use special doorjamb protectors.

* How will you load furniture onto the moving van? A sophisticated mover uses the floating method, which keeps furniture on dollies on the moving van floor. It is safe, fast and efficient. The old-fashioned way is the stacking method. The mover unloads the furniture on the truck and stacks it floor to ceiling. This procedure can cause considerable crushing damage to anything at the bottom of the pile and is also slow and very labor intensive.

* What provisions do you have for contingencies such as truck breakdowns, elevator failure or the need for more movers or equipment? The best answer is that an owner or general manager will be accessible during the move. Another employee may not have the authority to take appropriate action.

* What type of insurance coverage do you have? The one with the insurance often becomes the one who pays. CPA firms may be contingently liable for

accidents if their movers aren't adequately covered. For example, if a file cabinet falls off a dolly and injures another tenant's employee during the move, the firm might be sued for negligence for hiring a mover without proper coverage.

If a moving company employee is injured during the move, the firm may be liable for medical expenses and lost wages if the mover lacks workers' compensation insurance. If the firm's general liability insurance excludes such coverage, the firm manager may be directly liable.

If the mover has inadequate general liability coverage and causes significant real property damage to the office building, the company's insurance may not satisfy the claim. For all these reasons, firms should demand current certificates of insurance listing workers' compensation as well as general liability coverage. The mover should have a minimum of statutory limits for workers' compensation and an umbrella policy of $1 million per occurrence.

* Will we be permitted to audit your invoices if we deem it necessary? A small minority of companies sometimes bills for movers who didn't actually perform the move. If the firm believes it was billed for non-existent laborers, it should be able to examine payroll and cost records to verify charges.


Because CPA firms profit from the time members spend working for clients, excessive downtime during a move to a new location or a new office can be very costly. Moves can be accomplished with a minimum of trouble if firms know how to find the right movers and ask the right questions.
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Institute of CPA's
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Katz, Edward R.
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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