Truck Talks With: Big League Movers

After a successful stint of small campus moves for friends and students that gradually grew by word of mouth, two friends decided to expand their business to fill a niche for a full service moving company with a lot of hometown heart. So in 2008, owner and founder Steve Reed and Jonathan Greer, VP of Sales and Marketing, recruited a few more friends to join their business. And because former college baseball players filled most of their lineup, Big League Movers was born.

In just five years since Big League Movers first opened their doors, they’ve quickly grown to be one of the biggest moving companies in Memphis and have since expanded into Atlanta, booking thousands of moves a year.

We chatted with Steve and Jonathan to find out how Big League Movers thrived in an industry tainted by rogues and a lack of transparency, by anchoring their business in a customer-driven culture that starts and ends with trust.

MCR: When booking a move with you, what can customers expect?

Big League Movers: We try and hold their hand from start to finish. Every touchpoint with a customer, from our sales team to the actual crew on move day, we make it our job to be that customer’s buddy. We also educate them on moving and let them know what time we’re arriving and what they can expect every step of the way.

We know it’s hard to find an honest mover. We saw a lot of room in the industry for a professional moving company with good ethics, morals and people you would feel comfortable letting into your home.

MCR: What steps have you taken to give customers and prospects peace of mind?

meetmoverBig League Movers: We pride our self on locally recruiting and personally vetting our staff with thorough background checks and references from friends and family. Our guys are very clean cut, polite and professional. These are the same guys we’ve had in our own homes who helped us with our moves. In fact, we have a page on our site with photos, bios and profiles of our great crew so customers know exactly who is coming to their home.

MCR: We saw that! Love the sports theme and the way you made the profiles into baseball cards with photos and stats for each person. So aside from building trust, what else is important to you guys when working with customers and prospects?

Big League Movers: Education, definitely. We want everyone to have a happy move, so we do our best to help prospects and customers make informed decisions about their move and share some professional advice on what we’ve learned from all of our years in the business.

MCR: Awesome. Can you give our readers some advice on how to find a great mover online?

Big League Movers: The most important thing is to do your homework. There are a lot of scammers and rogues out there, so make sure you’re looking at licensed, quality movers. You also want to compare estimates and definitely read reviews to gauge customer experiences. And don’t just take a mover’s word for it; secure a hard commitment in writing! We pick up a lot of moves for customers who booked with other companies who never showed up, leaving them in a bad spot. We also encourage everyone to ask A LOT of questions until you’re comfortable. Especially when it comes to understanding total costs and any extra fees upfront.

MCR: What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about moving themselves with a couple friends, the promise of free pizza and beer…or hiring a professional?

WP_20131022_008Big League Movers: Make sure you get a clear understanding for how long your move will take from both sides. Nine times out of ten, we’re going to come in quicker, so think about what that time saved means to you. We also recommend folks know how to properly pack and secure their belongings. Great movers aren’t just professionals at getting your stuff from point A to point B.

Moving day is also filled with a lot of stress, so be realistic with your expectations for managing stress. When you hire us, all we want you to worry about on move day is pulling up a nice glass of lemonade to watch us do our job.

MCR: Speaking of jobs, we always love to hear about some memorable moves. What are some of yours?

Big League Movers: You know, we’ve done our fair share of celebrity moves for plenty of athletes and musicians. But some of the things that really stand out right now are more about the stuff we moved rather than its owners.

We’ve actually moved the same 12-foot tall Hulk statue twice for two different professional athletes. And we’ve had the privilege of moving a piece of local Atlanta history: an official Olympic torch from the 1996 Summer Olympic Games when it was held in Atlanta.

MCR: What do you guys think about reviews and how do you track your customer satisfaction?

Big League Movers: We love reviews and customer insight. We always ask for it and appreciate when our customers share honest feedback with us. Good or bad, we absolutely hold ourselves accountable to that and will make changes where we need to.

We take a lot of pride in the fact that more than half of our business is due to repeat customers and word-of-mouth referrals. Just validates for us the fact that there’s a lot of room in the industry for honest, ethical movers.

MCR: What do you see is the future for moving? And what are you doing to influence that vision positively?

Big League Movers: We see more technology and innovation changing the industry for the better, and we’ve adjusted our own processes to meet emerging expectations. Like creating instant chat on our site because we understand customers want us to be available to them on demand. Mobile is also huge, so we’re trying to get in line with that.

But we feel that no matter how the industry shifts and new things get introduced, a customer-driven mentality is still going to be the most important thing to help the industry move forward.

Yes, moving is a skilled labor trade, but it’s really about people and helping them transition smoothly from one part of their life to the next. Whether we’re doing a move or giving back to our community by lending our guys and trucks to programs like Toys For Tots – at the very core of everything we’re doing…is trying to give people a happier day.

8 Essential Tips For Hiring An Awesome Mover

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Looking for one good reason to do your homework and take the time to find a credible mover?

How about 3,100 of them? Or try more than 9,000.

That’s how many consumer complaints were filed against moving companies and received by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (up seven percent from the year before), and the Better Business Bureau, respectively. You can fill in the blanks with the moving horror stories you’ve probably heard from friends and family, including movers not showing up on move day, their stuff being held hostage and low-ball estimates.

 

The truth is that in many of these cases, these moves didn’t even happen with real movers, but rogues. Rogues are scammers who give real movers a bad name. They’re not licensed, not insured and are out to take advantage of you during one of the most stressful transition periods of your life.

We’ve learned a lot since we got into the moving business and we want to share those lessons with you. Because we care about creating happy moves.

We happen to think awesome movers are behind happy moves, so we put together our top eight tips for finding moving companies you can trust your stuff with.

1. Be The Early (moving) Bird That Gets The Worm

Pardon the proverb, but you get the general idea. Researching movers takes time and shouldn’t be a last minute decision. Start your mover search at least six weeks before your desired move date to give yourself enough time to properly vet and compare each potential moving company. This is especially true during peak moving season (between Memorial Day and Labor Day), as the best ones book up early.

2. Spot A Knock-off From A Mile Away

Anyone can create a website these days and appear credible. That’s how lots of rogues steal business from good movers. Protectyourmove.org compiled this handy list of major red flags to help you spot a rogue and avoid a potential moving disaster. If you come across any of these as you research movers, send ‘em packing!

3. Know The Signs (that) Point To Yes

Choosing whom you give access to your home and all your earthly possessions shouldn’t be left to chance (or a Magic 8 Ball)! But just like there are red flags to spot a rogue, there are many green flags to point you toward a reputable mover, not the least of which is having the proper license to move you.

Think of these as non-negotiable and know the difference between moving out of state and moving locally. We’ll simplify license info in our mover search results soon, but be here are some tips on what to be on the lookout for as you research.

Interstate – If you’re moving out of state, your mover must have a USDOT number (issued by the FMCSA). Because great movers have nothing to hide, this is usually easy to find on their website, advertisements or estimate docs. Seeing shouldn’t be believing, so be sure to verify the USDOT is accurate and up to date at Safersys.org.

Also make sure the company info matches with what you’re expecting, that there’s an X next to “Auth. for Hire,” an X next to “Interstate” under the Carrier Operation section and a Yes under “Household Goods.”

You can also call their 24/7 hotline at 888-DOT-SAFT (open 24/7) to inquire about a mover’s complaint history.

Intrastate – If you’re moving within state, requirements and regulations vary. Know what the requirements are for your state so you can check up on your local movers. Check out these important contacts and resources by state. Now that you know what to look for, be vigilant about making sure the mover is up to snuff and meets these requirements.

Bonus tip: Watch out for another “gotcha,” and be sure you understand the difference between a mover and a broker – related article here. Your best bet is to stick with movers since current consumer protection laws don’t apply to brokers.

4. Follow The Trail Of Happy Moves

Now that you’ve confidently selected licensed movers and eliminated those pesky rogues, it’s time to narrow down your selection. Reach out to your social circles, read online reviews/ratings (but be wary of the source), check out their website and follow the trail of successful moves. The opposite also holds true: run; don’t walk, far away from movers with consistently bad reviews, no resolutions and a telling history of consumer complaints.

5. Don’t Let Your Computer Do All Your Homework

Thumbs up for making full use of your online resources to vet movers. You should now have a short list of licensed, top rated movers with many satisfied customers. Contact your top choices to request a quote for your move and pay attention to your 1:1 interactions.

Awesome movers should be responsive, knowledgeable and helpful during this process. They will likely advise you to grant them an in-home visit so they can better assess the logistics of your home and inventory for a more accurate estimate.

And if you have the time, you might want to do a little recon at their local office (unannounced) to make sure everything looks orderly, professional and well maintained.

6. Get Safety In Numbers

When it comes to moving estimates, it’s best to compare at least three moving companies. Options are always good, and the range can help you establish a baseline. When movers start contacting you, make sure you get your estimates in writing.

Once the bids come in, break down the basics of the move such as crew size, hours and weight of your stuff – as these should be fairly similar. If anything looks fishy or vastly deviates from the other estimates, ask why!

And don’t just go with the cheapest mover, even if you followed all the steps prior to this. You may think you’re saving now, but it may cost you in more ways later if this is the only factor you’re looking at.

7. Be Prepared For The Worst

If you follow steps 1 through 6, you’ve taken great measures toward avoiding any moving mishaps. But a little insurance never hurts (literally)!

Make sure you understand your mover’s policies when it comes to coverage and their liability in case your stuff is damaged during the move. Check out this related article on “Damage Control: When Bubble Wrap Isn’t Enough.”

Talk with your mover at length about this and be comfortable with their answer. Don’t forget you can always opt for your own insurance to cover high value items.

8. Put It On Paper

Once you’ve found your awesome mover, make it official. This means confirming the dates, payment details, logistics etc. of your move, and getting a signed order for service and a Bill of Lading.

So there you have it. Eight steps to help you avoid the more than 12,000 moving nightmares that were filed with the FMCSA and the BBB.

Want to pay it forward? After you move, please come back and share your move experience to help others have a happy move too.

Good luck and please share any tips you’ve learned from your experiences in the comments!

Insider Tips For Scoring Free Moving Boxes

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Packing your things for an upcoming move? Depending on how much stuff you have, you’re probably going to need a whole lotta boxes. Sure, you have options when it comes to containers you can pack into your moving truck, but the classic cardboard box is a mainstay for a reason… it gets the job done.

Buying boxes is easy, but if you’re hoping to save on moving expenses, here are some suggestions for where you might be able to score free boxes. Some seem like no-brainers but some genuinely surprised us when we started researching these tips.

Happy hunting!

Friends, Family, Frequent Associates: A good place to start is within your network. Asking around is easier than ever these days. A few timely Facebook updates can find their way to helpful friends with boxes to spare.

Craigslist: Craigslist and other popular web-boards contain a ‘Free’ section, and cardboard boxes are a common sight among the unwanted wares. Search in your city or neighborhood and chances are you’ll find some posts from folks who just wrapped up their move and looking to unload some moving goodies.

Bookstores: Businesses of all shapes and sizes take shipments, so in general most will probably have used boxes they’d be willing to part with. But we’ve heard bookstores have some of the sturdiest boxes that have weathered the weight of freshly minted and vintage novels. With all businesses, call ahead or ask when the staff isn’t swamped.

Convenience store: Another business that’s constantly receiving shipments, your local store on the corner could have more clean boxes for you to use.

Fast food restaurants: Surprised to see this on the list? Many burgers and fries joints receive their shipments as frozen packages, which are less likely to leave behind residual funk.

Bars and liquor stores: Just like other businesses on this list, bars and liquor stores also receive shipments nearly every week. Bonus: these are usually uniform in size so you’ll have an easier time stacking these in your car or moving truck. Heads up: if you’re looking to re-use these boxes for shipping, be sure to cover up all the alcohol brands, logos and labels, which are restricted by the USPS.

Post Office: The US Postal Service often has free boxes you can pick up without any hassle.

These are only a few options, but it’s a solid start to your box hunt. When you’re all unpacked, remember to pass on your used boxes to help another happy move! If you think we missed any box gold mines, let us know in the comments!

Think this is too much of a hassle? You can purchase boxes online and get free 1-2 day shipping. Much, much easier. Aahhhh.

5 Things to NOT Pack In Your Moving Truck

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It’s important to keep safety in mind when moving. With all those moving parts, dressers and appliances travelling up and down stairs, kids bouncing around and heavy boxes being lifted, it’s a lot to keep track of to make sure nobody gets hurt. But before you get to your house, don’t forget that what you put in the back of the moving truck can also be risky in certain conditions.

The cargo container can get hot very quickly, especially so during the summer moving season. This can cause many types of chemicals and other products to react in dangerous ways, potentially endangering the moving crew and putting your stuff at risk. Keep these safety tips in mind when it comes to loading up the truck and avoid packing these items.

Don’t try and bend the rules to fit the following items on board:

1. Cleaning products – Bleach and all sorts of other household cleaners should never be placed in the moving truck. These kitchen cleaners may seem harmless, but they can present a serious risk when shaken around together in a box.

2. Car batteries – For those of you fortunate enough to never have dealt with a leaky car battery, the fluid can disintegrate fabrics and damage anything it comes in contact with. Not exactly the type of thing you want next to your children’s clothes, no?

3. Ignition fluids – Again, the moving container can get very hot, very fast. Anything that’s used to light fires like light fluids, flammable gel, etc. should be kept away from your moving truck.

4. Fertilizers/Weed Sprays – An often overlooked fire hazard, many fertilizers and other gardening chemicals are highly flammable. These are a risk the same way your cleaning supplies can be.

5. Ammunition – It should be obvious that the hot moving truck is a terrible place to put bullets. If you must bring them, bring them with you in the car with air conditioning. Follow all firearms safety guidelines when transporting your weapons.

Bottom line: don’t sweat the small stuff, all these items are replaceable. A happy move starts with safety.

10 Stress Busting Tips For A Happy Move Day With The Kiddos

To put it lightly, moving day is going to be insanely busy. Add kids to the mix and you have a lot to worry about. Here are some ideas to keep the whole family happy and calm on an otherwise chaotic day.

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Make Move Day happy for the whole family.

1. Have the kids decorate their boxes

Give your kids some stickers and markers and let them make the boxes their own. Just be sure their name/room is readable for you and your movers. Make sure there is no question which room gets their sheets or their favorite toys.

2. Pack a first night box

Remember that aside from basic essentials, your child probably has special items that would go a long way to making them comfortable in their new space. If little Bobby can’t sleep without his five favorite stuffed toys and blanket, make sure these are easily accessible along with these other common favorites:

  • Pajamas
  • Favorite toys
  • Favorite books for bedtime
  • Favorite snacks
  • Nightlight
  • A sheet or temporary window covering if their new room has different conditions than what they’re used to
  • Clothes for the next day

3. Give them a job

Making them part of the team lets them feel like they have an important role and keeps them busy and focused. Jobs like watching the family pet, giving the movers water bottles or wiping off surfaces in the new place will keep their minds off of the confusion of arriving in a new place.

4. Leave a surprise for them in their room

If possible, have their favorite stuffed animal or toy unpacked and waiting for them in their room when they arrive. Print a sign with their name to post on the door – anything to help the new place feel special and more like home.

5. Put them in charge of the checklist

If they can read, give them a checklist of things to be completed before leaving the old place. Ask them to check rooms to make sure everything’s been packed. If they can’t read, try giving them pictures of stuff to look for.

6. Pack a Move Day Survival Kit

You’ll need one too (and yours may involve cocktail fixin’s) but for the kiddos, make sure you have snacks on hand and anything they can’t live without. Keep first-aid supplies available. Make sure you’re prepared for whatever climate you’re moving in, have sunscreen or extra hats and mittens.

For older kids, let them play DJ while unpacking. Anything’s more fun with some happy tunes. With babies or toddlers, take a cooler or insulated box/bag in the car with the food essentials like fruit, milk and formula.

And don’t forget the toilet paper and cleaning supplies (save yourself a run to the store by having these handy items ready)!

7. Hire a sitter or invite a family member to help

You’ll be busy directing the movers to rooms, keeping track of the keys and supervising all critical aspects of the move. If you have a friend, family member or sitter available, ask them to be buddies with your kids for the day. You’ll be more relaxed knowing someone else is keeping them busy and fed.

8. Be ready for a change in schedule

With your family leaving town at once, things might not go exactly as planned. Little ones will probably miss their naps. If the schedule goes off-track, try to make up for lost time and be ready to deal with frustrated kids. Remember, it’s only temporary and you’ll all be enjoying your new home together soon enough.

9.  Don’t forget about the day after

You remembered the First Night Kit, but don’t forget you’ll still be acclimating to the new place in the morning. Hungry kids are grumpy kids. Plan on heading out for a nearby breakfast joint or clearly mark a kitchen box with stuff you’ll need first thing in the morning like bowls and cereal.

10. Have fun!

Create a scavenger hunt or map of the new place for them to check out. Try the neighborhood park or ice cream place. If that last pile of boxes can wait, give yourself a chance to drop the move from your mind and spend time with the family around town. Because it’s not really about the move, but moving forward with new memories.

Happy moving!

Bonus – We know moving is hard and we think you deserve a treat. How does a free coffee sound? Review your mover now through June 30 and we’ll thank you with a $5 Starbuck eGift Card once we verify your review.