Moving, Minus the Truck

It isn't a business issue you might think about much, mostly because... well, why would anyone want to think about it?

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It isn't a business issue you might think about much, mostly because... well, why would anyone want to think about it?

There may be a few people in this world who actually enjoy the process of moving -- as in, packing boxes and lugging furniture out a door -- but I doubt any of us have met them. While moving from one house to another is stressful, moving a business may be even more so -- at least for the entrepreneur running the show.
After all, hiring movers is an expensive proposition; you're likely going to have some minor or major disruptions in your productivity, and, again, there's all that packing of boxes and lugging furniture out the door. Then, of course, you may well wonder if all of this time and effort will actually help your profit margins.

Which is why, if money is an issue, you might want to enlist your car and your employees' cars and try to move on the cheap. This isn't as wacky of a suggestion as it sounds -- I'm not suggesting you move your entire office into your cars, pick-up truck or rented U-Haul and drive it to your new location. I'm suggesting a subtle difference, that you could hire movers to carry everything from your office to your car and your staff's vehicles -- and then after you get to the new place, have them carry everything into the new place.

In other words, reduce costs by hiring movers and firing the moving truck.

It's a concept that's been growing in the last decade as the storage industry has blossomed and moving pods have made their way into the lexicon. While giant trucks with a crew of movers certainly have their place, just hiring a bunch of movers, and supplying your own vehicle, is a growing trend. The moving labor industry has its own industry association, the American Moving Labor Professionals Association, and there's actually a moving labor broker web site, called MovingLaborBrokers.com. And yet a lot of people don't seem to know what moving labor is, laments Brandon Scivolette, 26 and the CEO of Elite Moving Labor.

Scivolette didn't know either until about five years ago, when he was fresh out of the Marines and helping a neighbor in Washington, D.C., move. He must have done a good job because suddenly he was getting referrals from friends of the neighbor, all asking for Scivolette's help. "It was during the beginning of that housing boom, where people left and right were moving," says Scivolette, who now -- with 125 contract workers and partnerships -- runs a national operation with two offices in Tampa and D.C. In 2008, Elite Moving Labor made approximately a quarter of a million in revenue. "This year," admits Scivolette, "it will be less."

Not surprising, of course, given the recession. In fact, while 90% of Elite Moving Labor's business had been residential, he said that now the bulk of his business (80%) is commercial, where his movers help businesses and government agencies move from one floor to another, or from one building to another. He even brushes off my suggestion of a business using the company cars for transporting boxes and computers. "We have a nice working relationship with Penske Trucks," says Scivolette.

If you do hire moving laborers to transport your office to a better location, Scivolette has some advice, car or no car. As in -- try to do as much of the packing and planning as you can before the movers get there. "We've come to quite a few offices, where people are working on the day of the move, and I understand some places can't shut down, but we've had people working at their desks while we're trying to move them," says Scivolette, noting that his company can move businesses in the evening, after work has shut down.

"It's all about preparation," he advises, "especially when you're being billed hourly."
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