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U-Move Group targets DIY removers with new service

Feb 03, 2017
When Mark Ratcliffe and Andy Pearson launched their new company, U-Move Group, last February they expected that some in the moving industry would see it as bit of a stab in the back.

While some will see the DIY budget removals service as a threat, the founders are adamant that their new business offers an alternative to conventional van hire, rather than drawing people away from the established moving companies.

Here’s how it works. Instead of hiring a Luton or panel van from a conventional van hire company to carry out their move, the customer books a van from a U-Move member. The van comes with a driver, so there is no need to collect it from the depot or for the person moving even to have a driving licence. The U-Move van also comes equipped with basic packing materials, furniture covers, etc. Although the driver is not required to help with loading or unloading he will make sure the van is not overloaded, as it is ultimately his responsibility.

Andy Pearson said, “Most members of the public don’t have the skills to load a van fully and generally only use the floor area, so overloading is seldom a problem. If the driver believes the van is too heavy he will refuse to deliver the load until it’s reduced; it’s all in our terms and conditions.”

After the move the driver returns the van to the depot, which in the case of a long-distance move saves the customer a considerable amount of time and inconvenience. Alternatively, if the move is just around the corner, the customer can book the U-Move van and driver for as long as the job takes rather than a full day.

So far, the U-Move Group has attracted 16 members across the country, 15 of which are moving companies who see it as a way of capturing business that would otherwise be lost to the van hire industry.

“We all know when we do a survey that there are some customers that simply can’t afford to pay for a full removal service,” said Mark Ratcliffe. “Rather than lose the business, our members can offer the customer an affordable alternative that doesn’t involve the hassle of renting and driving their own vehicle.”

Those wishing to become a U-Move member pay a one-off fee of £500, which includes the first year’s membership. Thereafter there is an annual fee of £250, which may be paid in monthly instalments if required.

Mark and Andy recommend members use a 3.5-tonne Luton, although a large panel van will suffice as an alternative. The U-Move livery costs an additional £200 for a panel van and £250 for a Luton.

Each U-Move member is allocated an area in their chosen location and may promote their business within a 15-mile radius; however, there are no restrictions for collections and deliveries. An enquiry form on the U-Move Group’s website enables customers to contact their nearest member directly to make a booking.

Andy and Mark believe their new business is the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom although similar services have operated in the US for many years; the most famous being U-Haul.

While U-Move will for some in the industry be controversial, it remains to be seen if the public has an appetite for this half-way-house between full-blown removals and van hire and if there are enough removals companies willing to join the party.

Photos:  Top left: Mark Ratcliffe (left) and Andy Perason; top right: vans booked from U-Move come with a driver.

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