It's your move Featured

9:33am EDT April 22, 2005
For 25 years, CPA firm Brott Mardis & Co. was housed in the First National Tower in downtown Akron, growing to fill two floors. Last year, president Denise Griggs decided to relocate the firm several blocks away into the O'Neils Building, the former home of the iconic department store.

During the weekend of Dec. 3, 2004, the Brott Mardis team moved in, joining Roetzel & Andress, Ernst & Young, McDonald Financial Group and the Harry Buffalo restaurant in the O'Neils Building.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, the firm used timelines provided by the Association for Accounting Administration for moving an accounting firm. Sporting T-shirts that read, "Move Your Assets," the Brott Mardis CPAs closed up shop Friday afternoon and began the trek down Main Street with the help of a moving company and their technology vendors.

Griggs says the move could have taken weeks if she had allowed it, but she wanted to have the firm up and running by Monday morning.

"It was really dependent upon our space being finished here at the O'Neils Building, so once it was finished, we wanted to get in as soon as possible prior to the busy season," she says.

With Brott Mardis settled into its new home, Griggs shares advice for ensuring a successful office relocation.

* Let your employees own the project. Staff members were assigned to pack up their own spaces as well as a common area within the office. They worked Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday, several brought food into the new office and had an unpacking party.

* Hire a reliable moving company. The movers met with the staff and provided color-coded boxes and numbers corresponding to each office.

"They really helped us a lot with that because, of course, they'd done it many times before, and we hadn't," Griggs says.

* Have a good construction manager and architect on your side. Griggs' construction manager handled the subcontractors, giving her one less task to manage. She also met with an architect to ensure an efficient office layout for her staff and the way they work. As a result of the move to a single-floor setup, employees experienced a smoother tax season.

* Keep communication flowing. Griggs held staff meetings each week before the move to update employees and let them know how they could prepare for the move, including what their new space would look like, how many boxes they could bring and information on record retention -- which client-sensitive documents could be shredded and which miscellaneous papers could be tossed.

"Those were the things that people wanted to know so they could feel involved with the move, and by doing that, they were definitely more enthusiastic about all the extra effort," Griggs says.

* Maximize your PR. The firm hosted an open house the Thursday after the move, which promoted its relocation and motivated employees to get organized.

"We were able to use the atrium of the second floor, have a big party outside and then take people on individual tours throughout the offices," she says. "Knowing that was coming up, everybody got in their office space, got it all set up, and it looked nice and neat. Of course, we can't have client files or anything lying around while you're touring people through the office."

HOW TO REACH: Brott Mardis & Co., (330) 762-5022 or www.brottmardis.com