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Oct 13 | 2017

Wisdom without control The Mover, July 2017, page 4. David Wilson (65¼) Smallmove Removals & Storage

I read with amazement your piece on retirement, July 2017, just eight weeks after my 65th birthday. I could be the dad who you referred to. The one who bought a van thirty
years ago to top up the factory night shift wages to pay the mortgage. With assistance from my wife who was at home bringing up our three future porters, she’d answer the
phone and book in the work (no mobiles in those days, I’d get home from van and man work only to be turned around and sent back out again). Later she’d be in charge of
packing, I’d quit the night-shift and our three boys joined me during school holidays. No bloke could ask for better. Working, playing and socialising with his sons and wife.

As years went by two of our sons escaped the moving business and started successful businesses in other fields. Our youngest was sent off with pen and paper to gain his
Transport Manager’s CPC and so we carried on through the ups and downs of the job, just a small family business, until now.

I should have heard the alarm bells, but I missed them. You see, I felt smug in the knowledge that almost 80% of our work by now was coming from recommends. I was able to cut the huge advertising costs of directories, local papers, and other publications. They were old hat by then, not many people used them to find local trades and at best they only just covered their own cost. So, what can be wrong if our work comes in for free? Recommends are good aren’t they?

People only move every few years on average. People will soon forget who moved them. My staff can be the best ever but they’ll be forgotten in the grand scheme of things. If so much work came from recommends it follows that we were not picking
up much in the way of new enquiries.Therein lies the problem. I hadn’t replaced our old-style advertising with something up-to-date. I don’t know how to handle social media, I
don’t know how to use the Internet to our advantage. The business has hit a brick wall and is in rapid decline thanks to technology.

My sons and staff have become thoroughly disheartened with the reduction in enquiries and work. While they are there without fail to give an outstanding quality service,
they don’t foresee the business making a Phoenix-like recovery with themselves being dropped in at the deep end to sort the mess out. They have no interest in taking over.

I’ll keep working with them until they say enough is enough, then the business will close. I’ll keep the self storage and a Luton van for my pension. There’s not enough of the removals side of the business to offer for sale.

So, what’s the lesson to be learned? Hindsight and you Steve tell me I should have involved the lads and technology years ago. I didn’t realise I needed their input. They should have been in control and ready to take over a thriving business. I shouldn’t have been there doing everything for them, so much so that they only needed to turn up for
work, give a 100% sterling service and go home again.

In short, dads, by all means be their boss, their mate and their dad but don’t mother them.