The Seminar Theatre

Jan 05 | 2017

The Mover Magazine sponsored The Seminar Theatre at The Movers & Storers Show. Here is a brief summary of the main sessions some of which will be featured in more detail in subsequent issues.

Regulate van and man drivers  

Gordon Rafferty from All Moves UK argued that all man and van operators should be regulated to perform household removals. He said that small vans were an important part of the industry, for small jobs, addresses with bad access, for transporting packing materials, but the lower end of the market was giving the industry a bad name.   

“It’s time the industry was regulated,” he said.  “In the UK you don’t need to be regulated to trade as a mover but you need a licence to be a scrap man.”  

Gordon said that not all van and man operators are bad.  In fact many established moving companies started that way.  But he believed that they should be required to do a basic course in manual handling, driving at work and safe loading to obtain a licence.  “That way, if they do something wrong, their licence can be taken from them.  It would get rid of the £10/hour van and man companies.” 

Predictions for the next few years 

Becky Downing (Buzzmove), Richard Cundiff (We Are Moving Relocation Services) and Simon Hood (John Mason), formed a panel to discuss the likely developments that will affect the moving industry in the immediate future.  

There was no doubt that the industry is changing. Simon Hood spent some time describing SurveyBot, a technology recently adopted by John Mason that avoids the need for a surveyor to attend a home by conducting the survey via a smart phone.  Simon said that this technology allowed surveys to be performed 24-hours a day, from anywhere in the world.  To illustrate how quickly technology was moving, Becky explained that her company was now offering a similar technology free to its customers. Richard said that the industry was crying out for this type of technology. 

Was the ‘Movinga’ business model the shape of the future industry? The panel thought it was but, Becky explained, it had failed because the company had been unable to perform the survey and pricing sufficiently accurately. “But there is a lot of money being spent and someone will get it right one day,” she said.  She also said that this model was not a threat to the traditional moving industry and any successful company would need to be good for the rest of the industry as well. 

Simon said that he suspected John Mason would be a telesales company in 20 years, not running any vehicles at all.  Becky said that although the industry needs to be visionary it must also retain the flexibility of thought to be able to respond quickly as changes come along.  

‘O’ Licences for under 3.5 tonne vehicles 

Ian Dodd from AIM, explained that the European Commission was pressing for 3.5 tonne vehicles to require operator’s licences and, as the ‘O’ Licence system was in operation before the UK became part of the EU, it was likely to go ahead even after the UK has left.   

He explained that drivers of under 3.5 tonne vans are currently subject to UK domestic driving laws which are rarely enforced. However, if they were required to have an ‘O’ Licence the conditions would become much more onerous.

The implication from Ian’s presentation was, should ‘O’ Licences become required for under 3.5 tonne vehicles it would be an additional imposition on the established moving industry, but it would also have the effect of increasing the entry requirement for people joining the industry and, therefore, provide an element of regulation.  

Solving problems on social media  

Charlotte Parslow, from Animo Events, presented her thoughts about how to handle complaints received from customers over social media.  She said it is essential to respond quickly as appearing to ignore a comment can look as if you don’t care.    

The person dealing with complaints should be very good at customer service; they must be good at handling people.  They also need a support network to help them should they need to escalate a problem.  Remember that social media operates 24/7 so you should be able to monitor your social media around the clock.  

Charlotte said that when handling complaints you should: keep cool, own up to it, help the person to solve the problem, and give then some closure by explaining what you have done to try to prevent a reoccurrence. “Social media is about people, so be genuine, use their name and give them yours,” she said. “Don’t send stock answers.”  


Do you really need a recruitment company?  

Caroline Seear from Red Recruit offered suggestions for people wanting to recruit staff without using an agency.  

She said that firstly it’s important to consider whether the job actually needs filling.  Could it be amalgamated into someone else’s job?  If not, is there someone already in the company that could be trained to do this job?   

If the role must be filled the first step is to draw up a job description in agreement with other members of staff. Does anyone in the company know someone who should be interviewed for the position?  What are the most and least challenging parts of this job?  What sort of person will it suit? What sort of person will fit into the company culture?   

When writing the advert remember that you may not refer to the candidate’s age, sexuality or ethnicity.  At interview give them real-life scenarios to solve remember that they are interviewing you too: what does the company have to offer them? 


How to generate leads on social media  

Daniel Ricardo from Strategy Plus provided information to help companies generate their own leads online.  He said that the buying process was in three stages – awareness, consideration and decision – and it was during the consideration stage that social media was most effective.  

Daniel explained how to use social media to identify people who were interested in moving home and then to promote directly to those people.  One of the main search criteria, for example, on Google, was ‘Moving House Checklist’; “So it makes sense to have a checklist on your website,” he said.    

The purpose of promoting on social media is to get people to click through to your landing page.  This should have a form to complete for more information.  You can then use the information to contact them by e-mail regularly with valuable information about moving home and a call to action.  When they are ready to move, they will think of you first.   

Daniel also had an idea: Why not have a competition via social media or on your website offering a ‘free removal’?  Only people interested in moving will take part. 


Lead generation  

Damien Seaman from Buzzmove said that his company had no interest in providing customers with leads that they couldn’t convert.  “We are on the same side,” he said.  “If we provide you with rubbish leads, you’ll stop using us.”  

He gave some examples of companies that have used lead generation successfully and explained that lead generation is a much less expensive way of generating enquiries than using advertising on Google.   

The ‘race to the bottom’ image of the industry was because the cost of moving home is negotiable.  You can’t negotiate with the lawyers or the exchequer.    

Damien said that it’s necessary to educate customers as much as possible so that they understand that the price isn’t the most important thing.  “We want you to succeed,” Damien said.  “The more we can do to help you convert them the better we all do.”  

Lead generation should be used as just one of the ways a business gets enquiries.  In response, moving companies need to call back straight away, do something to stand out, show that they are reliable and think long term. “If lead generation is not working for you, talk to your lead generator, they will want to help you.” 


Protecting against cyber crime  

Daniel Brown from MoveMan stepped in at the last minute to offer advice on how to protect against cyber crime.  This largely falls into five categories: Phishing, to obtain personal information; Spear Phishing, where the e-mail appears to come from someone the recipient knows and trusts; Denial-of-Service (DoS) where the perpetrator tries to make a machine or network unavailable by overloading; Ransomeware, malicious software that’s designed to lock a user out of their computer; and Malware, designed to disrupt or damage a computer system.  

Dan said that it is important to educate staff about the hazards of cyber crime, for example not to open e-mails from an unknown or suspicious source and if they do, not to open any attachments.  Dan advised to hover the cursor over a suspicious link to display the link destination before clicking on it.   

Other key precautions include: making sure WiFi is secure; updating software and antivirus systems; having a strong password policy; avoiding the use of generic email addresses such as info@xxx; and having secure, tested backups.  


How will Brexit affect you?  

James Backhouse, a solicitor for Backhouse Jones, gave his opinion on the consequences of Brexit.  He said it was the biggest economic change for Britain since the Second World War. The EU was formed in the 1950s to stop Europe fighting.  The UK has given notice that it wishes to leave those agreements and set up new agreements with the rest of the world.  

James said the government won’t say what it wants because it needs to keep a strong hand in the negotiations. It will try to make sure whatever is lost from the EU is at least gained from elsewhere.  Nothing will change for at least 2.5 years until Brexit is complete.  

He explained that Germany and France will want the best agreement they can get with the UK.  “They do not want us to fail,” he said. The economy will be the priority for the UK government as it will not want to go into the next general election during a recession. This will be good for business.   

Regarding regulation, James said nothing much will change.  Many of the regulations were invented by the UK anyway and all the current EU regulations will be imported into UK law initially, to be changed only as necessary in the future.