Deputy Editor David Jordan takes a trip to London’s Docklands to revisit Top Removals five years on.
It was 2014 when I first visited Top Removals at its east London depot a short distance from the towers of Carary Wharf and the O2 Arena. The company is owned and run by Emil Perushanov and Dimitar Dimitrov, two friends who met while working on a Kent fruit farm during their vacation from Sophia University in 2001 and have since made their home in the UK. After initially working on the front desk of a major London hotel, Emil and Dimitar started their fledging removals company in 2011 and have since built a successful business they can both be proud of.
It’s not hard to see why the two Bulgarian’s have been successful. Both have a way about them; a natural charm blended with keen business acumen that helps them succeed in what Emil calls “this dynamic world”.
As we sat in Top Removals’ busy office drinking freshly brewed coffee and munching assorted chocolate biscuits, I was keen to learn how the business had changed during the last five years.
Emil explained, “Five years ago, most of our work was moving domestic customers in London, but now we find more people, especially millennials, are living in rented accommodation and when they do move, they take very little furniture and possessions with them. Now we concentrate on international work, mainly to Scandinavia with our two road trains, it accounts for about 65% of our business and around half of that is for other removals companies.”
Dimitar added, “Our aim is to increase our international business with private customers, so we don’t have to rely as much on trade work. Dealing directly with the customer is much simpler in terms of communication and of course we can get a better price for the load – we also get our money up-front, which is better for our cashflow.”
Recently Emil and Dimitar invested in a new website featuring a calculator to enable customers to obtain an indicative quote online. “Here in London people don’t want to spend time on the phone or sending e-mails, so we decided to invest in an online system,” said Dimitar. “We still need to see the job, either in person or by video, before giving a final quote because there are too many variables. Access for example; you can’t expect the customer to know if the truck can turn the corner in their street, or if there is enough space to park outside.”
Video surveys were unheard of five years ago, and although Dimitar, who handles most of the estimating, still prefers to visit customers in person, they have become an essential part of the business. “Working in London means it can sometimes take a whole day just to do a couple of surveys, so using video saves us a lot of time and a lot of customers actually prefer it,” said Demitar. “We have an account with Buzzsurvey, but if the customer wants to use another platform, like Skype or Facetime, we’re happy to use that too. We do surveys from 7am to 8pm, so customers have lots of flexibility and can choose what’s right for them.”
In February this year, Top Removals became a BAR member (British Association of Removers). “We wanted to present the best possible image to the customer, and joining BAR demonstrates to people who don’t know us that we work to high standards and are accountable for what we do,” said Emil. “We always make sure we mention BAR when we pitch, and I believe it gives us a competitive advantage.”
With the London ULEZ being extended to the North Circular Road in 2021 - bringing Top Removal’s premises within the zone - and the Brexit debacle making planning for UK companies, especially those involved with international trade, almost impossible, there will be many challenges ahead for the company. Having known Emil and Dimitar for some time, I am sure they will remain as positive as ever and seize the opportunities that present themselves in this dynamic world.
Top: L/R Dimitar and Emil with one of their road trains
Bottom: Emil Perushanov (front), Pete Kostas, Andy Kanchev, Victoria Veleva and Dimitar Dimitrov