Another year and it seems again that more and more moving customers are characterizing brand names as irrelevant. This trend of perceiving all movers as being alike results in purchasing decisions based upon one criterion—price. Ultimately a price-driven market lowers movers’ margins and weakens their financial condition.
When I started Peachtree Movers in 1976, we, too, were perceived as being just like all the other moving companies. I tried to be like our competitors—I talked the same talk, copied their brochures and offered the same service. As a result, we only booked business when we were the lowest bidder. I learned that being the low-price mover also meant being the little-or no-profit mover.
Back then Neptune Movers was the big, number one office mover in my market with eight times the men and equipment as my company plus a great reputation. We kept trying to be just like them but found that the customer would rather stick with number one than switch to us.
Finally, out of desperation, I found success by no longer trying to become another Neptune. I dropped what wasn’t working and, therefore, gave up selling price. I realized that if I didn’t stop following the followers and making safe decisions, I’d lose everything.
I took two bold steps—The first, was to listen to the customer. My customers used to complain about the costly downtime that occurs before and after an office move. Packing and unpacking disrupts work and often puts the customer out of business for at least two days. The second was in order to overcome the downtime problem, I pioneered a patented system to move the contents in the furniture instead of the contents and the furniture thereby eliminating most of the downtime. Since desks and file cabinets were being moved with the contents intact, we could also guarantee no more mixed-up or lost files. Because of these bold steps, we succeeded in carving out a niche in the market for customers who were more concerned about downtime than price. We discovered that once we moved even just one desk or one file cabinet without requiring it to be emptied, our customer became addicted to the convenience and savings—And us!
What happened to our old nemesis Neptune? They’re no longer in business. I hope that my experience becomes an inspiration to you. If what you’re doing isn’t working, don’t try to fix it—Drop it! Stop worrying about how your competitors do business.
Like me, what if you, too, went outside the box? Instead of spending most of your marketing dollars on search engine click-throughs or your website, what if you developed a relationship with someone who always knows when a commercial move will occur in his building? That person, of course, is the building manager or property manager. If you could earn the trust and respect of him, do you see why he will recommend your company’s moving services to his tenants when they move? His recommendation would be a tremendous promotion for you because most movers have bad relationships with these important people. Instead of recommending movers, many building managers badmouth them to their tenants. It’s payback to an industry that often damages their buildings during a move—especially the common areas like their elevator lobbies and main hallways and denies the claim.
One of the best ways to court building managers and develop a great relationship with them is to protect their elevator lobbies. Property managers hang elevator pads (or elevator cab pads) inside their elevators, but they rely upon the mover to protect the elevator frames and lobby-side entrances.
In the past protecting an elevator lobby was an arduous task because your only option was to tape corrugated paper or cardboard to this vulnerable area. Although some protection was better than none, the sharp edges of a file cabinet or the pointed legs of a desk on a 4-wheel dolly could still pierce the cardboard barrier causing damage to building surfaces. Making matters worse, a sticky residue was often left behind on the elevator jambs when the fastening tape was removed at the end of the job.
Today, more and more movers are using a product that protects the lobby-side elevator entrance with ease. This “user friendly” device is called the Mat-A-Door®, which is an elevator pad. The Mat-A-Door® door, wall and elevator pads have two high-density foam panels and plastic sheets covered with heavy-duty vinyl. It’s simple to install, lightweight, easy to carry and store, and waterproof. Not only does it protect the outer frame and adjacent walls of passenger elevators, but it doubles as bump and bang protection for main lobby glass entrance doors as well as fragile reception room doors.
Building managers and tenants love it because it works and looks professional. When movers use it, your company’s logo on the panels’ decals are like flashing neon signs sending a signal to the building manager and your customer that says, “you care!” I’m told by many Mat-A-Door® customers, who use them daily, that landlords often go out of their way to recommend their moving service to their tenants.
I hope this example also motivates you to try something different to become successful. In addition to price, drill down to identify the needs of your customers and building managers. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to differentiate your moving service in the marketplace so that you won’t have to sell price.