On the move

| December 12, 2008

In addition to above-average income, household movers enjoy the benefits of such recent innovations as electronically figured tariffs instead of the much longer paper billing, good fuel surcharges and more ergonomic training. But one of the most defining qualities for success in this field can’t be provided by a carrier or any other third party: people skills.

Cordiero figures he’s got about two minutes to make a good first impression. “I have to use everything I’ve got – humor, compassion and professional explanations – to put the customer’s mind at rest,” he says. The impression he makes and the level of service pays off; he often is requested by the company’s top repeat customers.

“You become intimately acquainted with the client and get a unique look into their personal life when you pack up all their possessions. In fact, sometimes we get more of a look that we’d like,” he says with a laugh.

After the mover meets the client, the physical work begins. Apple Transfer drivers fan out, prepping the house before the first stick of furniture is lifted, Diseati-Ayers says. Floor runners are put down, doorjambs protected, doors covered, edges wrapped in blankets and every potential obstacle removed before the job begins.

Good prep can make or break a job, Cordiero says. He does all his own prep and says it’s a huge factor in reducing claims. Careful preparation also reassures the client and sets the tone for the move.

Next, helpers begin packing and loading. Some owner-operators bring a trusted helper, though they often hire one or more locally. However much help an owner-operator has, he still stays on the job from the beginning until the last box is unloaded.

Most movers handle the inventory process themselves. “I don’t want to depend on a helper to be as careful with the paperwork as I would be,” says Mike Stinelli, an owner-operator from Phoenix.

He was glad he handled the inventory on a recent move. He’d just finished loading a 4-year-old girl’s possessions when she came skipping into her empty pink-and-white bedroom.

“Where’s Charlie?” she asked. His heart sank to his boots. Charlie was her live turtle – which he had inventoried as a toy. Luckily, his attention to detail resulted in the swift recovery of the pet. “You never know what’s going to happen on a job,” he says.

Most movers do their own packing, but some prefer to leave that to others. Gary Malcolm says he appreciates the expertise of the packers his company provides. “I like to concentrate on loading and driving,” he says.

Malcolm, however, stays on top of the operation even when he’s not doing his own packing, knowing he’s responsible to pay his own claims. “If you keep your claims low, you’ll make a good bit of money,” he says.

Using helpers not only makes economic sense but also helps cut down on bodily wear and tear. “I make sure I have someone to help me lift something that’s too heavy for one person,” Malcolm says. “I can’t afford to get hurt.”

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