Tips for Diversifying Your Moving Business, Part Three
By Emily Kozubowski
At the 2022 IAM Annual Meeting, the DAB hosted a panel on diversification that included Jimbo Loftin, SVP of Operations for Coleman Worldwide Moving; Jon Minor, President & CEO of Apple Moving, LLC; and Mark Chesser, President of Conser Moving. The panel included a spirited conversation which provided a lot of great tips for diversifying your business model. They generously summarized their responses to the top questions about the ins and outs of diversifying a household goods moving company into new lines of business. In the last installment of our three-part series, they answer questions about challenges when branching out into new lines of business and customer care.
- What are some of the pitfalls that DABs should look for when branching out?
Lofton warns, “Do not get into projects without FULLY understanding what is required to successfully complete them. If you don’t understand it, you will likely lose money as you will not understand your costs.” That can be as simple as noting if product can be stacked or racked in the warehouse because the storage costs are different. He also recommends that owners and company leadership visit the location that is handling the business based on the customer recommendations if possible. “We recently flew a GM to different locations handling a large, ongoing distribution project. This was critical to us understanding it. It also helped us correctly assess costs, equipment requirements, etc. In the early stages, working with reputable 3PLs and brokers was also a good way to learn the business.”
Minor urges companies to learn everything from A to Z about the new line of business they’re considering and ask some questions. For example, “What’s the cost? What’s the net profit? Are you equipped to do the work? How long does it take to get paid?”
“Be mindful of what the scope of work really includes before submitting an estimate,” Chesser said. “Your customer will appreciate you asking clarifying questions up front versus asking for more money later. When bidding on a project that includes a large labor expense, discuss a deposit or two-week payment plan to ensure your payroll cash flow is not negatively impacted.”
- In logistics, crews rarely interact with customers, which is very different from household goods. How does that impact customer service?
Coleman Worldwide has seen a wide variety of logistics work - direct to customers and working with contractors/installers. “The key in logistics is to be early,” said Lofton. “For example, if your crew is due at 9:00 a.m., they really need to be there at 8:45 a.m. When your crew is late, it holds up contractors who are already on the clock, billing the end customer who is waiting for your crew to arrive with the product…not a good scenario.” He continued, “the good news is we have seen this aspect of logistics help improve our “on-time” arrivals for household goods. When delivering direct to customers, all we learn in household goods applies. We must also recognize the product we are delivering is new and we are ambassadors for the company and/or product we are delivering. It means going the extra mile to ensure the customer is satisfied both with the product and the delivery!”
For Apple Moving, Minor said that “Customer care is more relationship based and comes from the main company. So instead of keeping many clients happy you need to maintain an amazing relationship with the account and provide great customer service.”
“Customer service is always important, regardless of the scope of work,” Chesser said. “Your crew should always be ready to dress the part, talk the part, or walk the part. They may not directly interact with the actual customer, but that does not mean they should not be approaching each job site ready to perform. Be respectful when on site, mindful of nearby workstations, cautious in the parking lots with neighboring traffic – your crew is representing YOUR organization the moment they leave your yard and it’s so important they represent with pride.”
We extend our gratitude to Jimbo Lofton, Jon Minor and Mark Chesser for taking the time to contribute to this article and by supporting our industry with their knowledge and expertise.