Date: Fri June 30 2000
Subject: AMS-Forum Setting Your Own Price
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The concept of setting a price for your own move is a wonderful marketing idea. It follows what is being done in scenarios. The problem with doing it for moving is just what so many have stated and anyone who works in the business knows - the customer is seldom right about what they have to send. They also have little knowledge about all that is involved in getting a professional move done, no matter how little or much stuff they are moving. Educating the customer is the #1 challenge to performing one of these "bid" yourself moves.

However, that doesn't mean that the idea is all bad. In fact, any time you ask a customer what they would like to have, even if they say "a perfect world", if you want them as your customer, you have to try and make their world better.

I believe the moving industry as a group has been slow in responding to a new medium (Internet), that it still hasn't addressed the age old problem of uneven demand (summer crunch), and its effort to accommodate the ever increasing expectations of the consumer is too fragmented. When I say slow response to the Internet, I don't mean just setting up individual web pages, or one vanline having a slick corporate page. I mean in understanding the power of the medium and understanding the fact that everyone has access to virtually anyone who is moving anywhere in the world. There is a need for a strategy as an industry to deal with this.

As for the uneven summer crunch - there are seasonal crunches in other businesses, but nothing that compares to the summer move syndrome. However, if it was enough of a priority, and you locked the people that really do the work in a room and told them they aren't getting out until they figure out a way to do a better job of meeting demand, you'd probably have some new solutions that would help.

As for fragmentation, some movers sound like sport team owners (my vanline is the best). They ignore the fact that, like sports teams, their image in the consumer eyes isn't the same. They trade employees like goofy. When Jack goes to ZZZ movers for ZAZA movers, is Jack less of an employee? To the people that meet the players in the game (customer at their homes) can they really tell the difference when Jack works for ZZZ or ZAZA by watching Jack work? Do you think they are loyal fans of any one van line? Maybe a slim few, but most, no way.

If the customer is rebelling about your ticket price, and going elsewhere to see a game (AAA ball, college ball, softball) (dot com, truck line, container mover, storage vault mover, independent pad wrap van line) and all you want to do is cry "But I'm not making any money now at current prices" do you think they care? No way.

What you've got is major image problem, very real financial problems, and no plan on how to fix either. The best marketing teams study the competition and learn from it - they don't whine about it. If know you customer (and know that not everyone is your customer) then follow what they are telling you they need. If a customer tells you that they only want or can afford to pay less than you can afford to give them service A for, then either walk away, educate them as to why service A is better in the long run for them and help them find a way to pay for it, or get a service B that gives them what they want.

Guess I shouldn't have sat on that firecracker.

Bob @ LGC

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