Bringing it all together Featured

11:40am EDT April 22, 2005
Having multiple offices scattered across Cleveland meant a lot of redundant expenses for CBIZ, a business services outsourcing firm.

It also meant that employees who needed to be working as a team were trying to do so from different locations with little knowledge of who their team members were or how their skills could help with existing clients.

"Our business model works best when, over time, we bring everyone into one facility so everyone gets to know each other and the services they provide," says Jerry Grisko, president and COO of CBIZ. "The employees need to know and trust each other and interact in a way with clients that makes us one company."

CBIZ provides services ranging from accounting to computer consulting, and clients are often referred to other CBIZ team members when they need assistance in a new area. Getting everyone together at one location was key to making the company's staff of professionals comfortable with each other and also in reducing customer confusion.

"We now have one phone number, so when you want to call CBIZ, there's one number to call rather than three or four," says Grisko. "It eliminated confusion in the market. The newer building we are in also facilitates our infrastructure and systems better than the old facilities."

When the decision to consolidate was made in 2002, the first problem was where to locate the new office.

"We really had a strong preference for the Rockside Road area," says Grisko. "The core of our business operations were located there already, and when we did a graph of where employees lived, for most of them, it was no less convenient to commute to Rockside than the current drive they had."

CBIZ also looked at where its customers were located and how convenient a new location would be for them.

"If you do not have a downtown location but need to serve customers both East and West, then I think Rockside is the ideal spot because it enables you to quickly get wherever you need to go, and there is great access to the airport."

As a professional services provider, image was very important, and the company considered both building a new space and leasing existing space.

"We wanted a newer or brand new Class A office space," says Grisko.

What they found was a brand new building that had never been occupied.

"Our current space is in a premiere location, was not occupied before and had the square footage we needed," says Grisko. "It was essentially cement walls and a floor. We were able to design it to meet our needs."

Another advantage of moving was that it provided the perfect time to re-evaluate infrastructure. CBIZ took the opportunity to upgrade its phone system and computers, and carefully analyzed workflow in laying out the new space.

"We sat down with the representatives from the corporate office and from each of those practice areas we needed to move," says Grisko. "We looked at how people interact, who needs offices of what size and what's in the best interest of the business."

After 18 months in the new space, Grisko has seen a change.

"The most noticeable difference is the pride in the organization," he says. "We've grown rapidly, and every acquisition brings a different culture to the organization. When you are in separate offices, it's very difficult to change cultures. When you are in one facility, you become part of the CBIZ culture. That's the greatest advantage of bringing people together. There are no more separate business units, just one company with one culture.

"They key to cross-serving clients for us is trust. It's difficult to establish that trust unless you are observing that person and seeing that they are equally professional and conscientious as you are. Only after you see that are you comfortable referring clients to them. The new work environment helps facilitate that."

How to reach: CBIZ, www.cbiz.com or (216) 447-9000