Steve Jordan reflects on the offering of Move24 that seems to have become a driving force in the European moving industry in the last 18 months.
I recently attended the EUROMOVERS conference in Edinburgh. One of the guest speakers was Jarek Brostowicz, Head of Business Development for Move24 assisted by Travis Pearce, Head of Cross Border Moves for the company. For me, the presentation created more questions than it answered, but it was intriguing. I wanted to know more.
Jarek said that Move24 was set up 18 months ago in Berlin (it recently changed its name from Movingo). He claimed that his company had performed 28,000 moves with a total order value of €23 million; employs 220 people and has 2,000 moving partners in Germany, France, Sweden and the UK. It has received €35 million in funding from corporate investors. Impressive stuff, particularly when compared with the average family firm in which mum, dad and sons graft day in, day out, and don’t make that in a lifetime.
Not competition to movers
But Move24 does not consider itself to be competition to the traditional moving industry; it is a facilitator helping movers to fill back loads and order books with profitable business when they need it most. That might be true, but the company is not convincing more people to move home so, if it were not trading the moves would inevitably have been performed by the moving community anyway; this makes it hard not to consider such intermediate organisations as interlopers who just take the business and then sell it back to the traditional movers who do all the hard work, for less money.
It’s not that simple though, is it? We are living in a digital world where customers want to operate digitally. They don’t want to take a day off work to be sold to by moving company representatives in smart suits (or scruffy ones) who drink their tea, eat their biscuits and baffle them with science in the hope of getting the price up. They want a straightforward price now, online. Job done! But, the traditional moving industry has been characteristically slow in adapting to change in this respect so nobody should be surprised that some enterprising people, with financial backing, have moved into the space. Move24 was not the first; there will be others.
Everything done online
Jarek explained in his presentation that customers are quoted and book online. “We then put the move with a pool of other moves that we have sold, and match them to create bundles,” he said. “We then put the bundles (or single moves) in our online shop. All our partners are connected to this online shop so they can filter the moves that they want and buy individual moves or bundles with one click.”
Move24 has invested heavily in getting the technology right so that prices are given instantly based on information provided by the customer on an online check list. It also provides dynamic pricing that takes into account busy or quieter periods, and is transparent so people can see exactly what is or is not included. Insurance is provided automatically for
125% of the cost of the move; customers are encouraged to take out full replacement insurance when booking. This is provided by Oskar Schunck.
I tried it (sorry guys the enquiry from Milton Keynes was just me digging). The system works fine but, as with all these systems, seems overly simple. A large proportion of any household is small items that require packing. The system asks the customer to say how many boxes are required for books, clothes and general packing. How could they possibly know? Nor does the system appear to identify separately the fragile items and everyone knows that china takes longer to pack than utensils. I know that they can charge extra for additional items but that doesn’t help the mover much when they turn up with a van that’s too small, or the job tales ten hours not six.
Getting the volume right
I asked Travis about Move24 handled this problem. He said that most customers have moved before and have a rough idea of how many boxes they will be moving. If they have no idea they ask how many people live in the home, how long have they lived there, etc. to try to establish the likely volumes. “With this, paired with photos and the extensive data set we have complied, we are able to estimate the number of boxes. In the majority of cases our estimation is on point. Also, if the client begins packing and notices they have more or less they can always adjust the amount before the move.”
Move24 deals with identifying the fragile items in a similar way. “It’s not that difficult to compile a list of glassware that needs to be wrapped and packed,” said Travis. “98% of the time you have standard glassware that poses no problem, for the other 2% ... that is why we finish that list by asking if there are any non-standard items that need special wrapping or protection. This helps us avoid any issues on the day of the move.”
This is all very well in theory but, what happens if the volume turns out to be wrong? “We have allocated a large portion of our resources into developing our volume calculator to be as accurate as possible, however there are times that it is a bit off,” said Travis. “For those cases we allow a buffer to the client just in case items are a bit larger than expected.”
As someone who spent the best part of 20 years on the road estimating removals, I find all this a bit of a stretch. But it’s easy to be cynical about something new and reports from companies that have used the service confirm that it does work. Rather than just being picky about the limitations of these systems we would all do better if we focussed on the benefits and how we can work them to our advantage.
Investment in technology
Move24 invests heavily in online marketing, search engine optimisation and even TV advertising that no ordinary moving company could possibly afford. Working with a company such as Move24 does give a mover access to work that would not have otherwise been available without the need to invest in its own lead-generation technology. If this truly is the way most household moves will be done in the future, there’s no point in hanging around hoping it will go away. As the band waggon drives slowly by, you’d better hitch a ride before it disappears out of site.
No fixed contracts
Jarek said that partners are not locked into an exclusive contract. “Partners simply sign the partner agreement and then, after a little onboarding process, get access to our Online Move shop,” he said. “If they like what they see they buy a move. If not then they don’t. There is no obligation to do anything except provide a good service once they have signed up to do a move.”
He said that the first approach usually comes from the moving company. To become a partner they just need to provide their business registration and insurance documents and sign the partner contract. They will first be allocated 2-3 easy moves so the quality of their service can be assessed before getting full access to the Online Move shop. Once moves are completed and signed off by the customer, Move24 pays the partner company within five days. “We recently launched the Partner App,” said Jarek. “Partners received tablets from us with an app where they fill out the move protocol digitally right on the spot. This will be sent to us directly after the move. This should decrease even further the average time until our partner gets paid.”
The quality of the service provided is tracked with a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) score card. “Our best partners are categorized as gold partners and have special privileges. This incentivizes them to become even better,” said Jarek. If partners do not perform well the account managers talk to them to try to improve the service. “If a partner continues to deliver bad service we would have to cancel the cooperation with that partner.”
Travis said that Move24 set agreed guidelines for partners to help ensure quality and standardisation. “If, these guidelines are not followed, in certain cases it can lead to a modest penalty for the partner.”
No charges to partners
Move24 does not charge partners an annual fee nor does it charge for the use of its online tools. It simply makes a margin between what the customer pays and what the partners charge. There are also other potential revenue streams as Jarek explained that his company is also renegotiating energy contracts for customers and is considering offering personal transport for the family, accompanying the household goods in driverless vehicles, as soon as the technology is available.
Stepping back in the UK
During my research I was told that Move24 was no longer trading in the UK. According to Jarek that’s not strictly true. “At the moment, growing in the UK is indeed not our highest priority,” he explained. “Thus, we shifted many of the resources to our other core markets of Germany, Sweden and France. However, we still have some minor operations in the UK and, once we have reached our goals in the other three core markets, our focus will for sure shift to the UK again at some point.”
As a mover you have a choice: to join an organisation such as Move24, or not. There will be many reading this who would rather control their own work, set their own prices, work with their own customers. But others, who might not have such a sophisticated marketing and sales machine, particularly online, that would consider it a lifeline – the way ahead. It’s your choice.
Photos: Top right: Jarek Brostowicz; Middle right: Travis Pearce.
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