Author Archives: Doug Breaker

Your thoughts: Integrating with Open Home Pro

published by on April 30, 2015For Business, News

An app for real estate agents to collect and convert more leads

Real Estate Agents & Movers – a perfect team

As a unit of HomeFinder.com, we’re always looking for ways to integrate with real estate. This week for our Prototypes initiative, we’re thinking up ways to integrate with HomeFinder’s app, Open Home Pro. As we discussed in this post, Prototypes give us the opportunity to quickly build new ideas and get feedback from our colleagues in the form of a highly competitive contest.

An app for real estate agents to collect and convert more leads

An app for real estate agents to collect and convert more leads

 

Open Home Pro (OHP) is an app to help agents collect and convert more leads. Rather than use an old fashioned sign-up pad and paper, OHP helps agents collect contact info for visitors to the open house they’re hosting. They use OHP to organize and communicate with their open house leads and convert them to future clients.

Integrating MCR with the most popular open house app on the market

So, how can we leverage the thousands of agents who use OHP and the buyers and sellers they interact with to promote MCR’s best movers?

Here’s our idea:

  • OHP agent opts-in to send their sellers helpful emails throughout their selling process
  • After an agent indicates that the property has sold, we trigger an email from them to their seller
  • The email includes some helpful moving tips and a link to see their recommended movers
  • The seller lands on a special MCR page with the agent’s photo, move tips and recommended movers for their market
  • Movers get exposure to a totally ready-to-move audience, and agents look good by giving their sellers super helpful information
tips

Helpful moving tips from an agent to their seller (via MCR)

 

What do you think?

Any other recommendations on how to integrate MCR with real estate? How do you develop those valuable relationships with real estate agents? Tell us in the comments below!

 

 

 


Don’t get scammed: 5 things to check before you hire the cheapest mover

published by on April 23, 2015Before You Move Tips, News

mover license section

Yesterday, this article came across my desk: A “fake” mover stole $60,000 of someone’s belongings. Unfortunately, we see stories like these all the time. A consumer books a move with the company (or person) that offered them the lowest price, only to be completely swindled; their possessions held hostage or stolen. Even our colleagues here at work are tempted to ignore MCR’s advice to only choose a licensed mover when they find someone willing to do the job at a ridiculously low price. “What’s the worst that can happen?” they say. The worst that can happen is pretty bad…and it often includes people stealing your stuff.

We have tons of tips on how to choose your mover, but we’ve boiled them down to the simplest and most important.

Here are our top 5 rules to follow when choosing a mover.

1. Check their license.

Every state has different rules and they can be confusing. Check a mover’s profile on MCR; it’ll show you the requirements for your state (or for out-of-state moves) and whether the mover meets them. Click through to the state website to confirm the license is active.

mover license section

If your state requires a license, choose a mover that has an active one.

 

2. Are they who they say they are?

Here are some ways to check:

  • Do they email you from an @companyname.com email address (e.g. sales@shannonsmoving.com) or an @gmail, @aol, etc (e.g. joemoving@hotmail.com)? Choose the former. If a mover doesn’t have their own domain, chances are they aren’t legit.
  • Do they answer their phone professionally? Someone who grunts and says “Hey” isn’t a pro. If they call you, call them back for a question you “forgot to ask” just to test them out.
  • Have you seen their trucks anywhere in your neighborhood? Particularly in the spring and summer, moving trucks are everywhere. Never seen their logo before? (or they don’t have a logo?) Keep on searching.

 

Have you seen their truck before? If not, keep looking.

Have you seen their truck before? If not, keep looking.

 

3. Get a written estimate.
  • Seriously. Get it in writing. And make sure their name and address is on the estimate, see #2.
4. Check reviews.
  • All of MCR’s reviews are verified with a bill-of-lading (move receipt). We also run reviews through several fraud checks. Read them. They’re real. Don’t go with anyone who doesn’t have at least a 3 star rating.
verified review

Don’t pick a mover without at least a 3 star rating.

5. Go with your gut.
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts; if you get a creepy feeling, your move probably isn’t going to go well. Follow the steps above to find someone you can trust. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth the risk of losing all of your precious stuff.

Good luck with your move!


5 Fun Facts About MCR Leads

published by on April 14, 2015For Business, News

email_new_quote_request (1)
1. More than 70% of the consumers using MCR come from online searches for movers in their city

Moving Leads  from Google

This means every consumer using MCR to submit quotes is in “moving mode”. They’ve done their homework, and decided to use our site to find moving services. Our free business listings appear in online searches to attract these active consumers and drive them to MCR.


 

2. Consumers choose up to 5 movers. Or, we’ll suggest licensed movers for them

Welcome

 

Movers may list their company in our national database for free. Our default search results are based on location, number of reviews and overall star rating.

On MCR, consumers choose the movers they want to hear from. Movers get free leads when consumers choose them.

We’ll also suggest qualified movers as part of our pay-per-lead program. This gives movers access to every lead in their service area.


 

3. We partner with Homefinder.com to provide home details

Move Details

We standardize addresses and whenever possible, we match them with public records via HomeFinder.com to pre-populate beds, baths, square footage and home type in order to give movers more accurate information.


 

4. Consumers understand your brand every step of the way

Reply

Keep your brand and online reviews in front of consumers by replying directly to the quote request email. When a consumer selects your company to provide a free quote, they’ve already provided basic move details and and are ready to chat.

 

Make it personal, be sure to mention your required next steps (in-home estimate etc.) or price to help the consumer make a decision. Try to address any specific needs the consumer may have mentioned in their notes.

 

Be sure to keep your profile and online reviews up to date. Having great reviews and a high overall rating is a great way to stand out from your competition.


 

5. We reward consumers on their move-in day

email_review_your_mover

On move-in day, we offer every consumer the opportunity to get a FREE Pizza if they come back and review their move on MCR.

We also have a program to collect reviews from your past customers, helping you focus on moves while we focus on your online reputation. Learn more about Review Advantage.

 


FAQs

1. How do I claim my free business listing?

2. How much does it cost to join MCR?

3. What are the advertising programs and prices?

4. What are my options when contacting a consumer from a quote request?

5. Where are the Suggested Mover placements?

 

 


Meet Rbot

published by on April 9, 2015For Business, News

good_morning

As Shannon wrote in “Behind the scenes at MCR: Our chatroom” we use our chat room for just about everything. It is one of the most used tools in our business. It’s obviously a great communication tool, but it’s a huge productivity tool for us as well.

We deployed our own customized version of a chat room robot forked from the Hubot Project. GitHub describes Hubot as “A Customizable, Life Embetterment Robot”, and we’ve certainly found our lives to be embettered! Hubot is an open source project written in CoffeeScript on Node.js and in our case runs on Heroku. The first thing we had to do after forking the Hubot project was to give our robot a name. We named ours “Review Bot”, or “Rbot” for short. Then we put him to work on a variety of tasks. The best part is since he’s a robot we don’t have to put him on the payroll… HE WORKS FOR FREE!

So what does Rbot do for us? He helps us with project management, customer assistance, and even monitoring our production web applications. Need some help with that math homework? Rbot has you covered, he’s great with numbers. All we have to do is ask “Rbot calculate 1+100″ or “Rbot calculate sqrt(81)”

calculate

We’re a small team, but it’s still easy to lose track of what everyone is up to. Not to worry, Rbot keeps track of all that for us. We just have to tell him “Rbot I am working on ticket #1234″ or “Rbot I am working on lead reports for invoices” and he now knows what we’re up to. At any point a project manager or anyone on the team can simply ask “Rbot what is everyone working on” and get a quick summary.

working_on

Rbot helps keep the software development process flowing so that we can continue to add great features to movingcompanyreviews.com. We use a continuous integration tool to automatically run tests on all of our software as we push out changes. Rbot keeps an eye on this of course, and can tell us if the build is passing or failing. We just have to ask Rbot “what’s the mcr project status”. He also monitors the Heroku platform that we run the site on. If we need to deploy some code changes we can ensure all systems are a go with a quick check-in with Rbot – “Rbot heroku status”

status

The business and operation folks are friends with Rbot as well. Account managers can get a quick sense of how many leads we’ve delivered to a mover just by asking Rbot “Rbot location rfqs for 12345″. We reward our users for reviewing their movers via phone with Domino’s gift cards, and we use a third-party vendor for fulfillment. We wouldn’t want our account to dry up and not be able to give away pizza, so we ask Rbot to check our balance from time to time “Rbot what is our tango card balance?”. Product people can get a conversion report on how users progress through our review process from requesting a quote to receiving that free pizza just by asking “Rbot pizza funnel”.

reports

Rbot isn’t all business, he has a fun side to him as well. He’s super friendly and is the first to greet everyone as they start work in the morning. He doesn’t sleep (he’s a robot remember) so he’s always online. We like to celebrate our wins at movingcompanyreviews.com and Rbot certainly gets in on the action. He fires off a cannon when we get a new sale, sends out a round of applause when a mover gets their first request for a moving quote, and gives a salute from the original tough guy Chuck Norris when anyone says thumbs up.

good_morning

Having a rough day? Rbot to the rescue! Just ask him “Rbot I need some advice”. Maybe you need to predict the future? Rbot will give you an answer to any question like the classic magic 8-ball “Rbot eightball will we hit our sales goals for the quarter?”. This one has come in handy many times when preparing boardroom presentations!

We have a great office at movingcompanyreviews.com and homefinder.com. One of the perks of being in the office is our ultra-modern kitchen, complete with a double-handled beer tap! After a long work week it’s nice to unwind with co-workers over a beer. But what’s going to fill your glass when you pull on that tap handle? Rbot knows, we just have to ask “Rbot what’s on tap?”

fun

Our omnipresent robot friend has been an awesome addition to the MCR team. Rbot keeps us informed and entertained, and he’s always learning new tricks. We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know him.


Long Distance Move: A Case Study

published by on March 30, 2015For Business

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 3.14.56 PM

Moving from MI to NYC

The challenge

Our colleague, Jen, is moving from Michigan to NYC in a few weeks. Naturally, she came to the MCR team to guide her in planning her move. In addition to advising her to use MCR, our best piece of advice: get estimates NOW! Jen will be moving in mid April so we told her she’d have a better shot at getting what she wanted if she started planning asap.

Scheduling

Jen submitted a quote request via MCR and was contacted within minutes by a major van line. The call center rep conveniently scheduled two in-home estimates with two different agents – Agent 1 and Agent 2 - within an hour of one another. “Great!” Jen thought, “I’ll have this part done in a day.” As the date approached, Agent 1 contacted her to confirm their appointment but Agent 2 did not. When Jen contacted Agent 2 directly, they said they often have scheduling issues with the call center and they’d need to set up an alternate time. So much for the two-birds-with-one-stone approach. By this point, Jen was frustrated: “Goodbye Agent 2!

Comparing costs

Agent 1′s in-home visit went well and the surveyor provided her with a detailed inventory and simple written estimate. They gave her two options: (1) transportation in a moving truck with other people’s belongings, with delivery date within a 2 week window (2) transportation and delivery via a crate on a truck with a guaranteed delivery date. Here’s a summary of the 1st version:

Estimate from major van line

Quote from Agent 1

 

But she needed more options. After contacting one portable storage container company by phone (and waiting on hold for way too long), and submitting an online estimate for another, she discovered it would actually cost LESS to move with Agent 1. The portable storage container company  - Company 3 – provided her a detailed breakdown like this:

Estimate from Portable Storage Container Company

Estimate from Portable Storage Container Company

 

More scheduling

Jen knew she needed another quote from a moving company in order to make an educated decision. After performing a search in her area on MCR, she submitted a quote request to a Michigan mover, Agent 4, who contacted her promptly. However, he admitted she’d pay for travel time because he wasn’t nearby. He referred her to Agent 5. This mover also came to Jen’s house for an in-home estimate.

The decision

Like Agent 1, Agent 5 offered two options: (1) Shared truck transportation with a 2 week delivery window (Agent 5 cost $75 less than Agent 1) and (2) a portable crate with guaranteed delivery date (Agent 5 cost $700 LESS than Agent 1). In the end, she based her decision on convenience and price and chose Agent 5. Although Agent 1 had better customer service, she liked the guaranteed delivery date with the crate option and the $700 cost savings sealed the deal.

Takeaways for movers

So why does this matter to you? Here are our top takeaways from Jen’s experience:

1. Closing a lead begins the moment you pick up the phone

  • Call immediately
  • Make scheduling as easy as possible: Provide flexibility, confirm appointments and show up on time
  • Putting someone on hold or having to follow up multiple times can be deal-breakers

2. Cost and convenience go hand in hand

  • In the end, Jen chose the more expensive option from Agent 5 but the less expensive option compared to Agent 1 (despite preferring Agent 1′s professionalism and demeanor). Making people comfortable and offering options to respect their busy schedules is key in their decision.

3. There’s a long way to go…

  • The diagram below shows all the steps Jen took to find and book her mover. How can we as an industry improve this? Share your thoughts below! And stay tuned for the story of Jen’s actual move.
Long Distance Move process

The long process of booking a long distance move


Three Free Essential Mover Marketing Tips That Work

published by on March 2, 2015For Business

Stand Out From The Pack

With 85 percent of consumers searching online for local businesses, getting found and standing out is more important than ever. But how do you compete without endless resources or a bottomless marketing budget?

With a little time and some creativity, you can get your business noticed without breaking the bank (or spending all your downtime on marketing distractions.)

Here are three effective and totally free marketing tips to grow your moving business.

Build Credibility and Trust With Online Reviews

According to SearchEngineLand.com, 7 out of 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Be sure to actively monitor reviews about your company, take the feedback seriously and incorporate it back into your business.

Pro Tips:

  • Inspire rave reviews by doing an amazing job.
  • Make it easy for customers to review you by keeping the process short, simple and timely (while the experience is fresh in their mind).
  • Never review yourself or your competitors.
  • If you do get a negative review, take the high road, stay professional and respond privately and publicly (when appropriate).
  • Remember, it’s not about what one person says, but rather how you as a business respond and resolve issues.
Get Listed Online So You’re Easier To Find

Make it simple for new customers to discover you by optimizing your listings and citations on the web. A citation is simply a mention of your business name, along with  your contact info, address or website (think Google+ or MovingCompanyReviews.com).

Pro Tips:

  • Start by identifying where your listed (and not!) and making sure all your info is consistent and up to date: business name, website, phone number, address etc.
  • There are dozens of free listing sites. Ask prospects and customers how they found you and prioritize for your best referral sources.
  • Look up your competitors to see where they’re present, and where you might be missing out on opportunities.
  • Not sure where to start? Check out Moz Local.

It takes time to claim and update your relevant listings. But it’s time well spent. You’ll not only be more visible online (in all the different ways potential customers may find you), but you’ll also rank better in local searches.

Turn Your Assets Into Great Content

Content marketing is a powerful tactic to differentiate your business by establishing trust and authority. You can turn nearly every aspect of your business into shareable content.

Here are a few ideas to convert your crew, your experience and your customers into awesome content.

  • Take pics or video of your team being the best at what they do (i.e. piano moving, packing dishware etc.).
  • Create mini-bios or profiles of your move crew so prospects feel they “know” who will be in their home.
  • Develop how tos, FAQs or tutorial content with consumer tips for a happy move.
  • Share quirky moving stories about memorable customers or interesting items handled.
  • Engage customers to submit top questions and concerns, then address them in your content.

The great news? After you create your content, you can publish it everywhere! Repurpose and repackage your content for your blog, social media, newsletters and emails.

Pro Tips:

  • Include compelling images next to engaging content
  • Include relevant keywords (naturally) to help your content get ranked
  • Curate and repurpose content you find online. Just be sure to cite your source.

Movers: Tweet your best reviews

published by on February 27, 2015For Business

A Mover Tweet

It’s now easier than ever to share your MCR reviews on Twitter. Here’s how to tweet a review:

Go to your profile on the site. (You can access from your dashboard, or just perform a search in your area). Then click on your listing and look for the Tweet button next to the review you want to post.

Tweet your review

Tweet button on a mover review

Log in to your Twitter account and post. That’s it.

Share on Twitter

Log in to Twitter to share

Nothing’s more powerful than praise from your past customers. So go on and get Tweeting!

 

 


10 Apps to Help Choose Your Perfect Neighborhood

published by on February 6, 2015News

agentapps

Preparing to move comes with many unknowns — starting with the neighborhood. Finding a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle is almost as important as the house you buy. Below are the most important factors to consider when narrowing down your list of possible new hoods.

1. Nearby Amenities

While distance to gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores might not seem important when starting your search, these amenities will be invaluable after you are settled in. Before choosing a neighborhood, scout the area for the closest grocery stores, healthcare centers and bank locations. All of these factors will contribute to a more convenient lifestyle.

Apps that can help: Werzit (Free, iOS/Android), AroundMe (Free, iOS/Android)

 

2. Local Market Details

You’ve mapped the distance to the nearest Target and Starbucks, but how much do you know about the local real estate market and community? Begin your home search on a site like HomeFinder.com, that includes  important community details and market information. Also do thorough research on the taxes. You might have found your dream house, in your dream area, but the taxes could price you out of the neighborhood.

Apps that can help:HomeFinder.com Real Estate Search (Free, iOS/Android), Mortgage Calculator by Quicken Loans (Free, iOS/Android)

 

3. Transportation Options

Access to transportation (both public transportation and highway access) are an important part of your everyday life. After visiting a prospective neighborhood, drive around the area and note access to major interstates or highways. If you live in a metropolitan area, research what public transportation options are available to you. Using public transit to your advantage can help cut back on costs like gas and general car maintenance.

Apps that can help: Transit (Free, iOS/Android), Moovit (Free, iOS/Android)

 

4. Commute

Does your preferred neighborhood come with a long commute to work, friends or family? Consider if you’re willing to sacrifice the extra time spent on the road for your prime location. Purchasing a home within walking distance to a downtown area might cost more, but in exchange you will have the luxury of a quick walk to town, or easy train access if you are commuting from a suburb.

Apps that can help: Commute (Free, iOS/Android), Waze (Free, iOS/Android), Walk Score (Free, iOS/Android)

 

5. School District

Even if you don’t plan on using the school system, buying a home in a neighborhood with a great school district can benefit you. Purchasing a home in these areas can result in a higher resale value and offer protection from instabilities in the market. If there are school-aged children in your family, look beyond testing statistics and research core competencies, extracurriculars and teacher credentials and support. Learn more about why school district should impact your home search here.

Apps that can help:GreatSchools Finder (Free, iOS)

 

After you find your new locale, use these tips to give you and your family a fresh start in your new neighborhood.


Behind the scenes at MCR: Our chatroom

published by on January 28, 2015For Business, News

main page

Every now and then we like to share a peek at how we do things here at MCR. There’s an important key to keeping the business running smoothly (and why we all look so happy and friendly in our pictures) . It’s our chat room. We use a tool called HipChat for Instant Messaging (IM) and the team shares a room for everything MCR-related. But it’s more than just IM. It give us information, it helps our remote workers feel like they’re here in the office (hello Brock in Minneapolis or Dave with twins at home or Denzell with his new comfy apartment!), it makes us laugh and it helps keep everyone up to date on some of our most important metrics.

Here are just a few examples of how we use our chat room every day:

Canons go off to celebrate when we have a new sale:

Sale

A new sale

Someone – often The Rock – applauds when a mover receives their first quote from MCR:

First RFQ

Mover receives their first MCR Referral (quote request)

We quickly access information, like moving licensing requirements for a certain state:

State license lookup

State license lookup

Our developers share new features with the team when they’re ready to review:

Deployment

Deployment Notification

We see every time a new move is created and which movers the consumer selected. Through these notifications, we know which days are busiest, which cities are on the rise and how far ahead people plan (not much). Most of all, it helps keep our consumers “real” and remind us that we’re helping people plan one of the most important and stressful events of their lives.

New Move

A consumer created a move on MCR

And we have a little fun:

Mic drop

Heading home for the day (mic drop)

 

Caffeinate Me

Caffeine

Ok, a lot of fun and silliness:

Nothing to see here

Silliness

 

As we continue to grow with more consumers visiting our site and creating moves, and more mover customers working with us to grow their business, we’ll keep looking for ways to use our chatroom to keep everyone on the team in touch with the business and our people.

 


Happy Holidays from MCR

published by on December 19, 2014For Business

the team

It’s been an exciting year here at MovingCompanyReviews (MCR)! Nearly two years ago, we started MCR to give consumers a better option for planning their moves, and to help great movers grow their business. In 2014, we grew our traffic exponentially, added hundreds of new verified reviews to the site, and generated thousands of free move referrals in what was the busiest move season in years. We also introduced our first paid mover product offering, Suggested Mover. We’ve been thrilled with the results and feedback we’ve gotten so far from our loyal mover customers. Please keep that feedback coming. We have lots more exciting stuff in the works for the coming year. Cheers to a great 2014 and an even bigger and better 2015.

- The MCR Crew

Shirlee, Shannon, Heather, Czarina, Marcus, Denzell, Dave and Brock (Doug not pictured)

 

the team


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