You made it. Everything was packed, loaded, unloaded, and the movers sent on their way. The hard part is over. Or is it? You’re in your new space, surrounded by boxes, and the sight can be overwhelming. Below are a few tips to make this next step in the moving process go smoother.
That’s right, it’s official! Our friends at self-storage marketplace SpareFoot.com have declared that today is National Moving Day (the Tuesday after Memorial Day). It’s the busiest day of the year for self-storage facilities (the last Saturday in June is the busiest day of the year for movers according to our handy moving infographic).
Their research shows that moving is becoming a pretty popular activity (1 in 6 US adults moved in the last year) and as such, they wanted to kick off the busy summer moving season by sharing the results of their massive study on moving America as well as some tips from key moving industry players. Our very own CEO, Mike Glanz, was even mentioned!
Are you moving? Where to? What caused the move? A new job? School? Family? Leave a comment.
Laughing at a customer, while rarely good for business, is sometimes justifiable. It was once when I was working as a waiter; several times when I was a campus police officer (of course, the students are not exactly customers; they are something much much less). And once, just once, it happened when I was working as an operations manager for a storage and moving company.
‘Yes sir, we did receive your things,’ I said to the man. He sounded younger than me but calling someone sir can help head off a lot of problems – a concept synonymous with the moving industry. ‘When would you like us to deliver?’
It was mid-June. The board on the wall was already overflowing with work orders, most of the insidious triple-copy printouts crammed into the slots reserved for the last few days of the month.
Everyone wants to move in the summer. The kids are out of school, the weather is nice, and what better time to parlay your move into a road trip? Provided, of course, someone is doing all the heavy moving for you.
The outfit I worked for had the added privilege of doing military moves, code named G-2, meaning ‘drive two hours, pack and haul a ton of storage and get paid peanuts.’ And since our armed forces prefer nice weather as much as the rest of our customers, summer for us was, in a word, busy-as-hell.
Humans must have some innate proclivity for change in June. How else to explain the sheer number of people who get married, travel to Europe and move (sometimes all three) in June, far more than in any other month? Unlike weddings and flights to Frankfurt, move-out-day is almost always the last day of the month.
Cram all these factors together and you have the perfect storage and moving storm, an annual event we in the business prefer not to talk about.
‘Well,’ the man on the other end of the line said. ‘Can you deliver on June 30th?’
I looked over at the triple-copy monster growing out of the wall. I couldn’t even see the 30 anymore. We were going to be all over the road, the crew physically and me mentally. The only thing he had going for him was the small size of his shipment. Maybe I’d find an opening in the course of the day to get his stuff to him. I just needed him to be flexible.
‘And can you come about 3:00?’
This is when I started laughing.
‘We’ll see what we can do, sir,’ I said (once I caught my breath). ‘But I’ll be honest, I can’t say exactly when we’ll be able to get to you. We’re talking about the busiest day of the busiest month of the entire year, and it looks like we’re already booked pretty solid.’
Silence. Then stuttering indecision. This is what we in the business call the more agreeable customer response to getting laughed at.
‘Don’t worry, sir. We’ll definitely get to you on the 30th.’ At this I almost started laughing again. ‘But I really can’t promise a specific time. Best I can do is give you a heads-up once we see how the day is shaping up.’
‘…Okay, well…You have my cell phone number, right?’
What more could the kid do but hope for the best? I was the operations manager and I couldn’t do more than hope for the best. We still had almost two weeks for more end-of-month work to come pouring in. I only had so many trucks and so many guys (and so many guys with proper licenses to drive those trucks but certain niggling legalities can be ignored in a pinch). I could try to move a few jobs around, maybe piggy-back a couple to save some time. But jobs go longer than expected sometimes, and there are only so many hours in a day. And as the hours drag on those couches and dressers and TV sets start getting pretty heavy.
My advice in all of this, kind reader, is two-fold. Eventually a waiter or a police officer or an operations guy at a storage and moving company is going to laugh at you. Take it in stride, it just means that, like most people (this writer not included), you don’t understand the ins and outs of the business.
And second, unless you don’t mind sitting, eating and sleeping on the floor of your new place for a few days – or, more preferably, extending your road trip at the last-minute – do whatever you can to avoid having to ask your moving company to do something for you anywhere close to the busiest day of the busiest month of the year.
Still, if you find you have no choice, don’t despair.
We ended up getting that young man’s things delivered at the stroke of three o’clock.
So he’s probably still wondering why I was laughing at him.
About the Guest Author
Kevin Kato has in fact waited tables, patrolled campuses and managed operations for a storage and moving company. He’d rather not talk about any of it. Find more of his witty insights (along with the occasional introspective bit) on his blog, read about his travels on his website, connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And check out his free, just-published e-book recounting his experiences in Japan after the big earthquake.
This post is actually an email that our designer, Jeremy, sent to us. I asked him if I could post it here for a couple reasons. First, it’s a fun behind-the-scenes look at HireAHelper and the types of discussions we have about improving our service – we’re absolutely fanatic about offering the best moving quote & booking tool in the country. Second, if you’re a moving company and/or are listed on HireAHelper.com we hope sharing some of our business-building experience, frustrations and ideas will help you to offer a better service to your customers.
Got some gift cards over the holidays.
Amazon: Went to the site, found the link pretty quickly, and then entered the 16 digit code.
iTunes: Opened iTunes, found the link pretty quickly and the main call to action was “Use your webcam”. Held up my card and BLAM! Was so shocked at how fast and accurate it was. Did it again just to get the screenshot:
How much more time and effort did that take? They had to build, test, and support that feature.
And let’s be honest- I’m a captive audience at this point. The money was already spent. In fact, they would make MORE money if the process for redemption was obscure or difficult (not that Amazon’s was hard- but you get my point).
Anyway, one day I would love to have enough design muscle at our company to spend it on things that bring unexpected delight to customers and service providers. Things that just make you smile and go “wow”. Like Vimeo’s log in screen:
I realize this totally goes against what I’ve been saying lately: We need to be more judicious about what features we allow.
But as we mature, I’d like to be like some of the companies people love. At those companies, customer experience champions sometimes say, “No- here we’re going to do something unexpected and over the top.” There’s sort of a swagger in doing this. It’s like the company is saying to its customers, “We’re choosing to spend our design/dev efforts in specific ways throughout your experience- not just on the marketing side of things.”
It’s like airline companies. If they put HALF the creativity and thought into their overall customer experience as they do in their marketing efforts, then people wouldn’t be so cynical about them. But instead of spending time on making a better boarding pass, they’re spending their time on skin-deep rebranding efforts. If customers wait on hold for hours at a time, can’t find information quickly, have their flights cancelled for preventable reasons, or lose their luggage… do you think they care what your logo looks like?
I’m not sure this email had a point. Let me try:
I see great customer experience and it gets my blood pumping. I wanna be awesome like that. And I think it means having a simple, reliable, amazing core product while STILL busting out with some unexpected shit that makes customers go WHOAH!
What’s your favorite piece of furniture? An antique passed down through distant ancestors for generations? Maybe a hand-built dining room table your husband put together from wood rescued out of the family barn? A grandfather clock your grandfather built for your parents wedding 50 years ago? Moving important pieces of furniture, whether across the street or across the state, can be terrifying. Here are some tips to keep damages to zero (or close).
- Take a Picture Inventory – Make a list of your favorite furniture items and personal possessions. Then take pictures of each item. Take lots of pictures of the easily scratched or broken parts (sides, legs or corners). Documenting the pre-move condition of your favorite stuff will help you later on to realize that tiny scratch might’ve been there all along.
- Tell the Movers What’s Important – Keep a file ready with your possession list & the pictures you took (see step 1) to show the movers when they arrive so they know how important each piece is. Just knowing that you know your furniture so well will push an excellent moving company to move your treasures with even more caution and awareness.
- Prepare with the Right Packaging – Check with the movers several days in advance and again the night before your move to be sure they’re bringing moving blankets and plastic wrap. If they don’t have those items, make sure to rent them from a local Budget or Penske truck rental office or buy them from a hardware store or online. If you buy the materials online, make sure to order them at least one week before the move so they’re delivered on time.
- Oversee the Wrapping/Packing – There’s nothing wrong with watching each of your favorite pieces as they’re wrapped and padded to be sure they’re adequately protected. Moving companies bring on new employees and work to be as fast as safely possible, so sometimes a corner isn’t covered or a leg doesn’t get wrapped. It’s ok to point that out. The movers will be glad when they don’t have to answer for damages and you’ll be glad when everything arrives at your new home safe and sound.
Antiques and family heirlooms run the biggest risk of tragedy during a move. Don’t let your move be any more stressful than it has to be! Go the extra few steps, be a little paranoid even, and dodge the damage bullet. It can be done. With the right planning and well reviewed local movers, you can have a damage-free move.