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Green shoots and hard work pay off for the moving industry

Jun 19, 2012
State of the moving industry.

Spending time speaking with the owners of moving companies throughout the UK has revealed some very interesting stories. Companies questioned were a mixed and random bag of small man and van operations through to large international removals companies and all had their own slant on the general economy and what it has meant for their business in 2012. 

It comes as no surprise that the consensus is that business is harder to get and all companies are having to work harder to gain clients and increase sales. The pressure on profits from increasing fuel and operational costs has meant that the most successful companies are those that have adopted a strategic marketing plan, diversified into other more profitable areas of their businesses and focussed on the growth areas in their company. 

Positive signs that the market is improving comes from the higher end of house sales where enquiries have picked up and larger properties are now selling. There was a downturn in the number of larger properties being sold as owners were reluctant to accept a lower price and were hanging on for an upturn in the market which has not come.

Graham Mackenzie from Colin Mackenzie Removals in John O’ Groats is busy with enquiries up on last year. “In general, business follows England with a 6 month lag,” said Graham.

Chris Marshall from Bishop’s Move feels that the increase in his enquiries is largely due to increased marketing activity and has proved that the ROI on SEO and social marketing is better than traditional methods of advertising and it is easier to track expenditure and results. His Q&A sessions on the expat forum have been successful in attracting clients undertaking corporate mobility. He has worked hard to set in place strategies that will increase traffic to his website which is paying off and converting into increased revenue.

Successful companies are working harder to gain business and are expanding into new growth areas. “We are looking at expanding into the international and European market,” said Chris, “and have just employed a new European operations manager.” Looking at what your company is doing best and focussing on that seems to be a good strategy for continued success.

Dan Keil at ATK Removals is concentrating on his successful and expanding storage facility where payback has been swift. “I feel this will be a growth area for us as long as legislation does not get in the way of it over the next few years,” he said.

ATK Removals are specialists in moving fine art and antiques and the business in this area has remained pretty level.  Domestic removals from London to Herefordshire on a weekly basis are 10–15% up on last year, mainly due to people moving out of the city and downsizing in the country.”

Harrow Green has found that the corporate removal industry as a whole is changing the way it operates, moving away from the MD and individuals organising moves to using a professional moving operation. This is tendered for and there is a large increase in the number of tenders on offer. Removal companies need to be aware of and adapt to changes in the market and there is no doubt that those companies that have seen a significant downturn in their business have not made any strategic plans to implement changes and will be left behind.

2012 will be a strange and challenging year for London removals due to the Olympics. The satellite depots will not be affected but London will effectively close for the moving industry from July through to October with July and August usually being their busiest time. “Clients will either bring their moves forward or delay until after the Olympics,” said a spokesman at Harrow Green.

In summary, the removals market is improving and growing slowly. Successful companies have had modest growth and are adapting to changes in the industry and are embracing new technologies and market opportunities. All companies need to continue to work harder to gain and retain their business and be prepared for a squeeze on profits, as customers are price driven rather than quality driven, but with both seasonal and industry green shoots budding up nicely let’s hope that the London moving industry will not suffer from an Olympic frost.

Photo: Adam Keil of specialist fine art and antique movers ATK Removals.

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