Complete Removals Original Logo (pictured above)
3 Priceless Lessons Every Small Business Owner Should Know
In 1998 Complete Removals was born, the first time. Like every small business we had hurdle after hurdle to jump in the first few years, many times I considered giving up thinking it would just be easier to work for somebody else and let them keep the stress.
The biggest hurdles were:
- Finding more customers (knowing nothing about marketing and even less about sales)
- Finding and keeping good employees
- Finding motivation to continue when no money was left after wages and expenses
If you own a small business or know someone who does, some or all of these hurdles will ring a bell.
The question going through my mind day after day was:
“Is the pride of being able to say I work for myself, worth all of the extra stress for not much more money?”
Some days I would stand tall with a resounding “YES”, and others I would deflate into hopelessness with a big “ NO”.
Then something happened which lead me to the first valuable lesson in business.
Lesson #: 1 Excellent Customer Service is a Fruit Tree
Approximately three years later I began to enjoy some of the fruits of my perseverance and efforts. The quality of work I performed on a daily basis began to spread through my local community and people were calling me like they knew me. I would get calls like “Corey, how are you? I got your number from so and so”.
All of a sudden my lack of sales skills didn’t matter??? How cool was this 🙂
I felt a new pride which inspired a new level of motivation to try harder and harder every single day. As months grew into years, some of the busiest weeks I would average 70-80 hours per week. My 24 year old body could go for 12 hours of lifting heavily every day, day after day for years. I was finally making money so I began adding trucks to the fleet which brought on new problems, as well as some old problems reborn, De-ja-vu……see the dots above! 🙁
Lesson # 2: Growing Without a Plan is Risky
To make a long story short, as we added more trucks, we made more revenue with more problems, more mistakes and more stress…..and far less profit.
Somehow in all of this, my lack of marketing expertise guided us in a direction of becoming the affordable movers and coined our first USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
Professional Moving Made Affordable
13 Trucks later we had lost sight of what made us special
At our peak, this small removalist business in Adelaide ran 13 trucks with around 28 removalists, but in a less than ideal fashion. There was less customer satisfaction, more stress on every employee in our company and overall morale was down to an all-time low.
Something had to change …… and something did!
Three major hurdles came along in a timely fashion that were completely out of my control.
- A change in government saw the end to Liberals Work Choices
- The GFC (Global Financial Crisis) arrived like Hurricane Katrina taking no prisoners
- The birth of menacing lead dealers on Google
Our profitability declined and declined with the real estate market while employee costs grew and grew. If your reading this as a small business owner, you probably nervous right now, I certainly was at the time.
Lesson # 3: Competing on Price is a Dangerous Game No One Wins
Fast forward to 2013.
I saw competitor after competitor closing their doors, either fed up or just forced to do so through debt and overheads. To simplify and generalise, the moving industry had entered a price war where everyone lost. The major victims were the moving businesses (small and large), their employees and the customers who employed them. If you could have taken a snap shot of the industry average customer satisfaction rate from 10 years ago and compared it to 2013, there would have been an appalling decline.
So whats the first thing a moving business does when its squeezed?
Simple, it cut costs; the easiest place to do this is hire cheap, inexperienced, untrained, and uninterested labour just showing up for a days pay. The consequences of this run very deep and include damaged furniture, damaged emotions, extra costs, confrontations and even theft.
“Burn and Churn” or “Bait and Switch” – Take your pick
Many of our competitors desperately transitioned to the “Burn and Churn” or “Bait and Switch” model. Let me explain.
Burn and Churn: This means make as much money as you can out of every customer and burn the relationship whilst doing so, and churn through them one after the other leaving a wake of disgruntled customers.
Bait and Switch: This means mislead or outright lie to the customer in the quoting stage about costs and then switch once the jobs won, piling on hidden fee after hidden fee.
Disturbing, yes, unethical, most definitely.
Complete Removals never succumbed to providing bad service, but faced serious financial problems due to being priced out of the market by these short sighted competitors.
Faced with one of the biggest decisions of my life, I had to steer Complete Removals away from the fire and the smouldering ashes.
In 2014 Complete Removals was Reborn
Luckily I invested a lot of time in myself when it comes to sales and marketing. With the help of Ben Ballard, my loyal team and an incredible mentor John Assaraf, we looked at the business from above and its position in the market, then began to rework it. We asked the tough questions, ran surveys to our database eventually created what they were asking for.
We rebranded and took a new position in the market with a new USP and brand promise.
The brand promise accompanies the logo and the benefit to our customers is our USP…
A Perfect Stress-Free Move Guaranteed – we arent crazy, we do guarantee it and have well founded evidence to back it up but we will get to that later.
Now Back to Lesson #1 – The Fruit Tree
What made us special the first time round, will make us successful the second time.
- Firstly, I created and shared our new customer focused vision with every employee in the company
- Together, we created a set of values and behaviors we call “The 10 Commandments”
- We crafted our revolutionary “25 Points Stress-Free Moving System”
- We raised the standards and expectations of our team and focused our attention on the skill level of our removalists
- We introduced strict drug testing, police checking, became female friendly accredited and one by one getting working with children certificates
- We started following up with every single customer to see how we went.
- We placed unprecedented focus on our customer’s experience, with outstanding results.
- We added new marketing and sales initiatives and welcomed a better friendlier and satisfying company culture which we are carefully nurturing and is still evolving
- We began educating people on how to shop for their mover and gave them 15 Critical Questions You Must ask Before Hiring a Removalist
- We enjoyed the strongest year of growth since the downturn years earlier
Fast forward to December 2014, I finish our little success story with a snap shot of our performance in the busiest time of year when our resources are ordinarily stretched to capacity.
As you can imagine, with a 6 month average “98.6% Excellence Score”, I am extremely proud of our teams performance and their efforts and evolution of our brand. I excitedly look forward to the most EPIC year in our companies history in 2015. Stay tuned, we intend to flip this industry on its ear here in Adelaide and interstate.
For learn more about how you can experience a perfect stress-free move and even have FUN (yes FUN) on moving day, call us on (08) 8358 0212 or click to get a quote. I promise, we will not bite, or “bait” 😉