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Getting it right

Apr 25, 2018
An interview with AJ Removals of Bath, by Steve Jordan

It was on a shockingly wet February day that I swung into the yard at AJ Removals of Bath.  I’d been recommended to drop in by a member of the industry who told me they were a young, very smart company that is doing everything right.  I thought I’d find out for myself. 

The company is run by Managing Directors Alan Kerrison and James Meddick.  They were friends who started working for an antiques dealer about 11 years ago.  Alan said that it wasn’t particularly lucrative for them so they bought a van and started delivering the antiques.  “The business started from there,” he said. 

Alan said that the company is now the largest independent firm in Bath and the company has built up a good relationship with its customers.  The offices are attached to a small warehouse that acts as a shop front for the business and gives the staff a base to work from.  Nine months ago they took on a 17,000sq ft warehouse outside the city as land is a rare commodity inside.  It holds around 500 containers and is one of the few containerised storage sites in the area.  Unusually, the price of land nearby is such that self storage is yet to catch on in the way that it has elsewhere. 

The business is mainly residential with a little international that Alan ships through his preferred groupage operators.  The company runs two 18-tonners, three 7.5 tonners and two low loaders. 

All of that is fairly basic stuff and, to be fair, there is nothing remarkable about the company at all if you just look at the hardware.  But what is a little unusual is the age of the people and attention to detail that they have applied to everything they have done.  Alan is only 33, James is 34 and Mike Pattemore, the company’s surveyor, is just 30.  James’ mother, Caroline, runs the accounts.  Yet despite their youth they have been scrupulous in getting the branding, the training and their standards right, recognising that these details can make a significant difference to the businesses’ success. 

The vehicles are very smartly turned out, the twelve road crew members are fully uniformed and the office, though small, is uncluttered. The company joined BAR three years ago and has sent its staff there for training.  They have also attended the BAR conference for the last two years and have found it to be very useful.   “We wanted to make trade contacts,” said Alan, “and it’s nice to chat to other people in the business. I think members of BAR should have at least one representative at the conference.” 

Hannah Weisberg-Meddick (James’ sister-in-law), who’s been with the company for seven years said that she enjoyed the seminars at the BAR conference too. “It’s a great chance to network with other companies although it was a little strange that there were not many attending from our local area, particularly as it was in Cardiff last year.”  

BAR membership has been important for them.  “We were self-taught so we didn’t know that we were doing it right.  But BAR has helped us and it’s a very useful sales tool.”  Mike Pattemore says that he sells BAR to customers and believes that it helps him stand out as a professional moving company. “Maybe 25% of customers already know about BAR particularly if they move regularly,” he said. “Others see it on the website and, once you explain it, it gives them extra peace of mind.” 

The company also has BS EN 12522, the Standard for domestic moving.  Alan said this was also a good selling point but it was going through the process that had been very helpful, allowing them to refine their processes.   “We have seen a marked improvement making us sharper and more fluid,” he explained.  “That’s more valuable to us than having the Standard itself.” 

The company has also embraced technology.  Its website includes a live chat facility so people can easily get in touch.  And they use Crater to provide video surveying services.  “We have done about 20 video surveys in the last six months,” said Mike. “They have been very useful and allow us to view a much wider customer base.  I think they are brilliant.  The customers have been very positive too.” 

So, AJ Removals of Bath seems to have covered everything.  They are busy now filling up their new warehouse but don’t want to neglect the moving side of the business.  They want to ensure that customer service remains at heart: by keeping everything in-house, using their own trained staff and providing a high quality moving service for their customers. Sounds fair enough to me. 

Photo:  Left to right: Mike Pattermore, Alan Kerrison and Hanna Weisberg-Meddick 

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