An interview with Kris Snidvongs of Thai Movers in Bangkok, by Steve Jordan
The rise of the lump sum mover, someone who is being assigned to a new role overseas by their company but receives a lump sum to cover expenses rather than their company handling everything for them, has spawned a new breed of moving company in recent years. One such company is Thai Movers in Bangkok, a small company serving the specific needs of the private and lump sum corporate market.
The company is run by Kris Snidvongs, whose Thai/English parentage makes him ideal for the role. Kris has spent much of his working life in Asia and joined Transpo in Bangkok in 2001. In 2014 he had an opportunity to work on the rebrand of a sister company, Thai International Moving & Storage, that would be developed to serve the private and lump sum market.
Kris renamed the company Thai Movers which he said is short and snappy and says exactly what the company does. Thai Movers focusses on the private international and domestic market in Thailand and the corporate lump sum business. “It’s a market that has to some extent been ignored by the major brands in Thailand,” he explained. “It’s a growing market so we saw the opportunity.”
The market is growing in part because of the change in approach by corporations who benefit from reduced cost and built in flexibility to their assignee programmes by providing their employee with a cash sum and allowing them to make their own arrangements for relocation. This does, however, instantly convert a corporate customer into a private one, so the market has to be tackled differently.
Thailand, in common with much of Asia, also has a rapidly growing middle class who, because of their increasing wealth, are more able and interested in moving home.
“Previously, Thai people would borrow a van and ask their friends to help on moving day,” said Kris. “Now that they know our service exists, they are more likely to use us in a time of need. As long as we present our service in Thai and English, on mobile devices, they are willing to give us a try.”
Brands dedicated to this market segment operate differently from their corporate cousins. Business is attracted online, requires a fast response and needs to be sufficiently flexible to provide exactly what the customer needs. Thai Moving uses every channel available to contact customers and build relationships with them. For example, it has an online price calculator which Kris admits is something of a gimmick. “It gives people an idea of the costs involved in moving but, more importantly, it generates the lead and allows us to contact the potential customer, so we have a chance at securing the business,” he said. The company also has a LINE account, common throughout Asia, for instant communications with customers. “Everyone has a LINE account in Asia. Some people would rather do that than call you. The enquiries are very time sensitive; you can’t hang around. The pricing has to be right too.” Thai Moving also provides a ‘man and van’ service and has a very popular box store that is a rich source of moving enquires as well as direct retail sales.
A key milestone for Thai Moving was when it registered with the Moveaide review site. After each move Kris sends the customer an invitation to leave a review. Those reviews quickly built up and helped the company establish a good reputation.
This method of operating can be very different from that used by movers working entirely in the corporate world. Having a brand dedicated to this market means that it’s possible for Kris to direct his marketing operations precisely. Companies that try to serve both markets, with a single brand, risk confusing their customers.
The other advantage of having a dedicated brand for private moves, for established corporate movers, is the ability to try out new ideas without them affecting the parent organisation. It’s easy to experiment with services and pricing in comparative safety. Those gems of ideas that do work can then be absorbed if appropriate.
Kris has started attending conferences to expand the company’s reach and generate an increased level of traffic so it’s increasingly likely you’ll see him around. Don’t forget to say hello. He has traffic to share and if the lump sum trend continues to grow, he’ll soon have a lot more.
Photos: Kris Snidvongs