Capitalizing On the Summer Moving Season
Businesses can flourish or flounder when annual surges come. For franchised service concepts in the moving segment, it’s the opportunity of the year, but to get the most out of the busy summer moving season, it takes a thoughtful approach.
The moving season peaks at the end of June, but the entire summer is a frantic time for companies like Two Men and a Truck, Welcomemat Services and Showhomes. Each capitalizes on the busy time between school years when families opt to move and avoid disrupting their kids' lives too much.
At Two Men and a Truck, COO Jon Nobis said the key is starting early, very early.
“It really starts in the planning phase, we help our franchisees plan in the fall to see what we’re seeing from economic activity. We lay out the truck plan and the people plan,” said Nobis. “If you’re not prepared for it, it can significantly hurt you through the rest of the year.”
After looking at the next year from a high level, it’s all about staffing.
“We do a heavy blitz on hiring at the end of February. And we continue to hire throughout the busy season,” said Nobis. “It’s a mix of seasonal and full time—not just movers, but also sales teams have to get built.”
In this environment of very low unemployment, hiring is especially difficult. Seasonal help from college kids looking for cash helps a lot, but outlining a career path helps bring in aspirational, focused employees.
“What we’ve done is we laid out a frontline career training, we start with Stickmen University, we train you on the job you’re brought in to do. Then if you’re looking to move forward, you can sign up for additional training programs,” said Nobis.
Dedicated employees can move through the managerial ranks and get in the running for the Mary Ellen Scholarship Award, which awards an individual franchise each year. That’s a serious draw for entry-level employees.
Nobis said technology plays a huge role as well, and moving to an all-encompassing data system that has radically changed how they predict and approach surges.
At Welcomemat Services, technology is the central key to weathering the summer moving surge. The concept works with local businesses to get in front of new residents, forming long-term relationships.
"It’s really interesting, one of the great things is if you can reach out to someone who is moving say from Atlanta to Minneapolis before they build habits in their lives, you’ve got a good chance build some good customers,” said founder and CEO Brian Mattingly. “Local businesses need to be thinking of that.”
He said even in high-growth ZIP codes like Walden, New York, which saw a 174% increase in new residents from 2016 to 2017, technology keeps franchisees from pulling their hair out.
“We’ve got a lot of automation here so no matter how big the surge gets, we’re good,” said Mattingly, who was in the software space before founding the company.
He said it’s just the opposite, when the fleet of Two Men and a Truck vehicles start pouring in, it’s a sales piece.
“Our franchisees out there can say, look, you’ve got to get in front of these people,” said Mattingly.
The data in the system also helps Welcomemat Services clients get their own insights even after the busy moving season via robust customer profiles.
“We had this pizza restaurant—a franchised brand—that used our brand that people coming into our program were 38-year-old men making six figures,” said Mattingly. “So he used that to lever up and create new marketing plans. He went down to the local pee wee baseball team because he knew that’s where his customers were.”
At Showhomes, a home staging and home design concept, the summer moving surge means being prepared with staff and enough on-trend décor for client homes, but the key is transparency among franchisees.
“We have once-a-month conference calls, we’ll bring in guest speakers, have panels of franchisee to get them ready,” said Showhomes COO Matt Kelton. “I think you need to boost your batteries every now and then, share stuff and walk away with ideas.”
Since all franchisees have exclusive territory, there’s no reason to keep those best-practices secret. The most important part of that transparency has been mastermind groups where experienced franchisees share how they staff up and stay organized through the busy summer season.
“We have essentially mastermind groups, we bring in experienced people and new people. Our franchisees all in all have kind of a family atmosphere, they’re more than willing to share and help. We try to set up some mentorship as well,” said Kelton. “That’s one thing that we’ve really tired to nurture over the years.”
Taking care of social media marketing also helps give franchisees space to prepare homes instead of sit at their desk. And while they staff up and fill their inventory with trendy home goods, their elevated market keeps things manageable.
“We focus on the top 20 percent of home prices in the market, so in Edina [Minnesota] our average list price is $800,000 to $900,000 and in California where it’s $900,000 to $1.1 million, those homes don’t sell in hours,” said Kelton. “The reality is that they take longer to sell, the economy can have an impact, but we see pretty regular traffic.”