Have you ever thought starting a moving company would be easy? Seems like the type of company that is pretty low tech , and high volume. The stats show every American household moves every 7 or 8 years. That’s a lot of business. If I was 22, I would think, heck, get a big truck, hire some strong people, get the insurance, and off you go.
I have had the great experience of moving a large house twice over the last 11 years. So now I can view the process from the consumer side. There are several mistakes I made in the process, and they highlight how difficult running a moving company must be.
Lets start with sales process. You will be competing against every company on Craig’s list and in the coupon books. This really is a discount driven business for the standard community moves. Even in Boulder County, where, for the most part you have two type moves, students using a pickup, and corporate moves where cost is not near the top when it comes to decisions.
Frankly I looked at 4 or 5 companies. Some small and new, and a few established. My main priority was a 100% reliable company. We needed to make the move happen on time , based on the closing of a house. After that, all the standard stuff. I had to trust them, (as years ago I almost lost several expensive musical instruments as I followed a cheap moving company with my belongings all packed into a rental truck, and watched as they decided to take a detour to drop some of my stuff at their local storage area). Another story, but it did teach me a lesson. One must be very careful in selecting a mover. It’s like hiring a bartender… you better find an honest one because there are 100’s of ways to be dishonest in the business.
Although several of the discount movers tempted me with a price that was 30% lower than the big established firms, I went with a company that had been in business for over 100 years with a high trust factor, Boulder Valley Transfer. They had the best presentation, and great moving tips on their moving tips blog on their web site about moving. Although the cost was higher, it seemed fair, as the sales person broke it all down into the costs… Labor Hours, Trucks (2) and materials. As a business guy I could pretty much figure out this wasn’t a unfair or inflated cost. Besides, we had a coupon. 😉 Several of the Discount companies didn’t even come to the house to look around, they just took the size of the home and rooms and said … this many hours this many people. Scary.
Here is where stuff went wrong, and it was all about us. We decided NOT to have professional packers. Lets save some money and pack all 30 years of accumulated stuff ourselves. How hard can that be? My wife had a small work schedule for the month leading up to the move. Well, we were really stupid. How ever many hours you think it will take you to pack up the house for a move, please multiply it by 4. I Am not joking. I had figured 40 hours.
As the final week approached before the big move I thought we could use a little help, as I looked around and figured 33% was completed. So we hired 2 people for 2 days to come help. That’s 32 hours. After those two days we were closer to 65% packed, with two days to go before the move. At this point I am worried.
So I hire a couple of more professional packers for the day before the move ( the other two were not professional packers. Here’s what I found. A professional moving company packs your things about 5 times faster, and more securely than friends, or hired labor. So even though you pay twice as much you will save a bunch using the pros in this.
We are still about 85% when the movers show up. I had checked out Boulder Valley Transfers blog on moving tips several times that week, and there is some good stuff on there. Open me first boxes (GREAT IDEA). My wife marked every box with a room code. We had room codes up in our new home so the movers could just look at the color coded slip taped to the box, and get it to its correct destination.
Let me tell you, that 15% that wasn’t packed made this a really challenging move. I actually called Boulder Valley Transfer the day before to warn them, and see what we could do. I guess this is more common that you think. So if you are thinking of starting a moving company and envision your people walking into homes with every thing perfectly boxed up and ready to go,that’s not the way it goes.\
The thing is they probable spent an extra 2 hours (three of them, so 6 hours) packing stuff during the move, and yet some how made the move happen for less than the estimated charges. You know how? Because they are well paid pro’s! If you had hired a bunch or part time college guys, this move would still be going on!
So if you think running or starting a moving company looks pretty easy, think again! Leave it to the pros.