Renovation describes a series of planned changes and updates made to a facility where business is conducted.  Office and building renovation is a common undertaking in today’s competitive business environment, as businesses endeavor to keep up with infrastructure needs (especially those sparked by technology use) and provide aesthetically pleasing settings for customers.

Many business owners and consultants agree that a well-conceived and carefully planned renovation effort can revitalize a business and provide it with much-needed room to grow in the future. But they also note that renovation periods can have a negative impact on productivity and profitability. Often, the inconveniences associated with office and building renovation projects make it a practical impossibility for businesses to maintain the exact same level of operations that they met during the non-renovation periods.  But experts indicate that small business owners – whether they are building tenants or building owners – can take several steps to ensure that the negative aspects of renovation are minimized.

Small Business Tenants and Renovation

Many small business owners are co-tenants of a building with other businesses.  These entrepreneurs may well find themselves faced with an impending renovation.  This is especially true if they are operating their businesses in older buildings.  Sometimes, these renovations take place within the physical space of the business itself; on other occasions, the renovation may be limited to common areas – lobbies, other building areas, stairway/elevator system, etc. – that are shared by all tenants. In either case, the impending arrival of a renovation crew should signal a period of preparation on the part of the business owner.

 Tenants are usually very pleased with the modern conveniences and new environments that are created after a major office renovation project has been completed. But during the period when the renovation is actually taking place, business owners may find themselves feeling everything from anxiety to deep anger  about the impact that it is (or seems to be) having on their company. The most effective way in which business tenants can minimize these negative emotions is by establishing and maintaining good lines of communication with the building owner before and during the renovation process.

Good communication between building owners/managers and tenants is a priority whether the renovation is a minor capital improvement or a comprehensive rehabilitation project. Almost any physical change in the work environment can be disruptive and potentially threatening to the tenants’ business. It is management’s and ultimately ownership’s responsibility to make sure tenants are kept informed every step of the way during construction.

The smart building managers will take the initiative in talking with the business tenants so that they are more likely to feel as if they are part of the renovation process, instead of becoming victims of the procedure.  Retail tenants are particularly sensitive to signage and good access to their space.  But if you are a small business owner and you feel that the facility’s ownership is doing an inadequate job of informing you of renovation issues and schedules, it is entirely within your rights to demand more information and input. Business owners should make sure that they thoroughly review their leasing contract, soliciting legal assistance if necessary, to make sure that they are being treated fairly. 

Some business owners inhabiting facilities that are undergoing renovation adopt a fatalistic sort of attitude toward the process, surrendering meekly to renovation strategies without offering any workable alternatives to plans that might unnecessarily hinder their operations. Other entrepreneurs, meanwhile, err on the other end of the spectrum by making unreasonable demands that may ultimately drag out the renovation process for several other days or weeks. Business experts counsel owners to instead adopt a middle ground. They have to recognize that renovation efforts almost inevitably bring about some measure of inconveniences for tenants and their customers, but that they ultimately increase the value of the location for the business operation.

On the other hand, if a business owner spots a problem during a review of upcoming renovation plans, he or she should bring it to the attention of building management.  A renovation strategy that would render a key loading dock unavailable during a big delivery period, for example, should immediately be brought to the attention of the landlord. 

Small business owners should recognize that many facility managers want to help tenants out in whatever way they reasonably can.  After all, they do not want to lose tenants and go to the trouble of finding new ones.  Although it may cost more, it is sometimes wiser to schedule work in high service areas at night or on the weekends.  The same holds true or heavy pounding or other work that requires large equipment.  You will certainly make up the cost difference if you keep your tenants happy and away from the construction headache as much as possible.

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