Have you noticed the quality of office moving services has gotten worse in the past year? You’ve probably experienced this firsthand when moves didn’t finish on-time and your office buildings  and elevators were damaged.

Why are so many office relocations becoming a nightmare? The main culprit is the sub-prime mortgage crisis and its subsequent negative effect on home sales that’s forcing many movers to diversify into office moving so they can stay afloat and survive. Unfortunately, many of these neophytes have no formal training in a business that’s totally different from their residential moves.

The estimating formula that works so well on their household moves fails when used on a commercial job. The result? Jobs take much longer than anticipated, workers become tired and thus more prone to accidents, which causes damage to furniture and real property. Door and elevator padding and mats can prevent damage during moves. 

“To make matters worse, residential movers typically don’t know how to transport computers safely or protect office building walls, doors, floors, and elevators from being damaged. They learn the pitfalls of commercial moves at the expense of both the customer and his or her landlord,” says Ed Katz, president of the International Office Moving Institute (IOMI®).

Since property managers are obligated to all tenants, they are often seen as the enemy when there is a problem on a move. So, who’s really to blame on Monday morning when the building manager refuses to let the mover finish what he failed to complete over the weekend, as promised, because he underestimated the job? When property managers have to say no, the response from both tenant and mover is to kill the messenger.

“Sometimes I must be the bearer of bad news, but it’s my responsibility to protect the building assets, prevent disruption and damage, and look out for the welfare of all of our clients who are our tenants,” says Brett Koutnik, senior property manager, Colonial Properties Trust in Atlanta. He offers a strategy to help prevent problems later.

“Before the move, we communicate with both the tenant and the mover, review the move schedule, ensure that the mover has adequate insurance, and that he agrees in writing to follow our building rules and regulations including the hours and days when they can and cannot perform the move.”

To minimize the risk of damage to elevator lobbies and main building entrance doors during relocations, some property managers literally arm their buildings against movers and other contractors with a device called a Mat-A-Door®.

Jim Maher, Jr., executive vice president, Colonial Properties Trust, attaches a set of Mat-A-Doors® to a passenger elevator in Ravinia 3 in Atlanta, GA

Jim Maher, Jr., executive vice president, Colonial Properties Trust, attaches a set of Mat-A-Doors® to a passenger elevator in Ravinia 3 in Atlanta, GA

When attached to lobby side frames of a passenger elevator that’s also used to haul freight during a move, these vinyl-covered plastic and foam-lined panels protect the elevator jambs and walls adjacent to the elevator by repelling blunt forces like the ones caused by movers and contractors. They’re used to protect main glass lobby entrance doors, too.

“We use our Mat-A-Doors® on our low-rise building,” says Jim Maher, executive vice president of Colonial Properties Trust. “Our swing elevators are highly susceptible to damage and these portable pads are simple, fast, easy to set up, and work well for us. In the past, before we used the device, we were repairing our elevators on a regular basis.”