Property Grunt

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Moving Out

Awhile back Charles S Moore, who is the Director, Marketing and Corporate Relations OZ moving, contacted me and offered to do an interview about his company. Seeing this as an opportunity to learn more about the moving industry, I jumped at the chance.

1. Describe the origins of OZ moving. How did this company first begin? Where the name OZ come from?

The company was founded by Avi Oz that is where the name came from. In 1993, Oz Moving & Storage did something no other moving company would ever dream of – they started putting the telephone number of the NYS DOT (the government agency that licenses and regulates moving companies) on the back of every truck and in every single advertisement. Every client that called for an estimate was advised to just “call the DOT before making your final decision”. At the time, the moving industry was full of fly-by-night scammers that ripped of people and made millions of dollars before closing up shops and re-opening under another name. By drawing the client in with a “low-ball” price, they continued to get rich at the public’s expense, and make it harder for legitimate hard working companies to make a living. What did this lead to? Local NYC Movers cleaning up their act. It became harder for scammers to scam now that people were informed, and when the consumers were scammed, they called the DOT to help resolve their issues. It also helped the DOT and FBI pin down the criminals. The more people were educated, the more they turned to the DOT and the more information and evidence they were able to collect. While we may not be most loved among our competition, our clients sure appreciate our honesty and integrity.

2. From outward appearances it seems like anyone can be a mover since all you need is a couple of body builders, a U Haul truck and your good to go with your own moving business. However, I suspect it is a helluva lot more complicated than that. What are the operating costs of a moving business? What do you seek in employees?

It takes two guys and a truck to start a moving company. However, it takes a lot more in NYC to get into certain buildings. Many of the luxury buildings in NYC require $1,000,000 of liability insurance or more. You should be listed with the Better Business Bureau and the state’s Department of Transportation. The movers should be trained and not just thrown on a truck. Also, you have to employ a sales staff. In our case, we have 6 retail locations so we have to have people to man the stores. We have a storage facility which requires a huge amount of space. When getting the larger jobs we must have onsite estimators to come out and see exactly what’s going to be moved and see the job at hand.

We have a high level of standards from our movers and sales staff. So we seek employees that take themselves and their work serious. We maintain a high level of ethics and our employees must also portray that.

3. It sounds like the moving business is similar to sales, since every move is a closed deal. How do you optimize your resources in order to close as many deals as possible?

First, we never overbook. There are some companies that plan for cancellations and they overbook. We find that more often than not our clients do not cancel unless it has something to do with a closing or scheduling elevators, etc. We optimize sales and closing be maintaining an aggressive sales force who has confidence in what they sale so it makes life simple and easy for them. We have software that make it easy to compile a customer’s basic information and interpret their situation to give them an estimate. Having 6 locations makes it easy if a person prefers to deal face-to-face when they do business.

4. For someone who is moving what are the do's and don'ts?

The most important thing a person can do is their homework. I can not stress this more. It goes hand in hand that if a company has a lot of complaints at the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, the state’s Department of Transportation or City Search then this may be a testament of their quality of service. Read your contract thoroughly and make sure you understand everything that is involved and what is expected.

5. Describe the process for someone who is utilizing the services of your company. Are their estimates involved? How do you determine those estimates?

There are two ways to get an estimate. It can be over the phone or onsite. We typically give over the phone estimates when it is a small job, no packing, or we have moved the customer before and they did not acquire many new things. When onsite estimates are needed it is usually by request, the customer has a large apartment or house, or they require full packing or a complicated move. In this case we go out and give a free estimate to see exactly what is going to take to complete the job. The estimates in both cases are determined by the amount of items the customer has, where they’re moving to, and exactly what they want packed (if anything).

6. How have fuel costs impacted your business?

Fuel has been a great impact on our business. We did not want to raise our prices for local moves. However, we did a slight price increase for moves that required 6 hours or more of total driving.

7. It seems like everyone is always is moving. Is this a recession proof business?

I think whenever you deal in a business that is more a luxury or just makes your life easier it isn’t totally recession proof. Being a full-service mover is no different. Because we cater to a client that wants more than just two men and a truck it definitely hurts a little when the economy is bad. However, I look at it like this, when the economy is bad people can’t afford the current place and need to move, and when the economy is good people can afford to live in a better place so they move. This business is moving, but it’s not going anyway.

8. What is the difference between moving for a commercial and residential customer?

There is a huge difference. We almost 95% of the time send an onsite estimator for commercial. (Unless it is extremely small and the client is very detailed over the phone). The commercial estimator must be very seasoned in his knowledge as well as the crews we send to complete the move. Often there are cubicles that need disassembled and wall pieces. The biggest difference is the furniture type. There are no rules in commercial. We’ve moved factories, art dealers, office spaces, and various business types. The typical residential move is not as complicated.

9. What is the turnover for your trucks? How often do you replace them?

We have trucks we’ve had since inception of the company and we have brand new trucks. We try to use the older trucks for the smaller less complicated local jobs. The newer trucks we use for larger jobs and more complex situations. We’ve replaced many trucks that are out dated so most our fleet is new.

Thank you Charles for your time.