It was April 2020, and most of the world was stuck at home doing nothing. Companies were busy trying to re-invent themselves and how they work to adjust to new business conditions.
For us, being a software company with a small team that has always worked remotely, our capabilities remained intact. We did find ourselves with a bit of spare time on our hands as we simply had less to do supporting customers and onboarding new customers on our products. We came up with an idea to help our customers prepare for this new future by building features/products that would help as the world recovered.
This article is a recap of how we ended up building an all new application for movers in the process of trying to add features to our existing application
Stage 1: How much time do we have to build something useful?
In retrospect, we were naive and underestimated how long the pandemic would last. At the time, I told myself "well these lockdowns should take about 3 - 4 months. This was back when all news outlets were referring to how we all just need to "flatten the curve".
I thought: surely it can't be that hard to flatten a curve - everyone sits tight for a few months, curves get flattened and before you know it, bob's your uncle! Well, I was wrong, very wrong. Here we are 12 months later with the pandemic still front and center in our lives.
However, powered by optimism we did create a 4 month plan back in April 2020 to build a solution around a pressing problem all moving companies face:
The moving company sales problem
Today's consumers are changing and so are their buying patterns and preferences. The growing millennial generation prefers doing business online. They buy services and goods ranging from shoes, insurance, cars, homes, vacations and other services through immediate digital channels using mobile apps or websites from anywhere at anytime.
Moving companies have found it hard to adopt the idea of online bookings because it's difficult to know the price of a move before the move happens. This is because primarily the time it takes to complete a move is highly variable.
Here is the problem for movers trying to go digital: It has been difficult/impossible to provide the accurate and timely moving estimates necessary to support online move bookings. Without the ability to provide upfront pricing, movers have to fall back to the old school style of selling with sales over the phone or by sending emails back and forth to moving prospects.
What if we could solve this problem for movers?
The 3 moving sales opportunities
In order to focus our effort, we outlined what the real opportunities moving companies would be able to seize if they could make online move bookings a reality. Here is what we outlined;
New sales to a different type of consumer: There is a growing set of potential moving customers who will simply not fit into the existing traditional sales approach of most moving companies. They don't see their phones as a tool to talk to moving sales reps, rather they see the phone as the interface to complete their entire moving transaction.
According to Adweek, 73% of millennials use their phones to shop online vs 33% of boomers. This survey result is from January 2019! One can only imagine how this will trend now after the pandemic has forced the rest of the world towards online transactions.
These are the moving prospects that may visit your moving companies website at 3am when it might be convenient for them to make decisions. They would rather not wait till you or your sales reps come online to reply email/contact-us form queries that the modern user no longer trusts. Today's new consumers live and breathe technology and expect the companies they work with to be able to use technology to engage them 24x7. What if the modern mover could seize on this opportunity?
Faster sales cycles: It often takes multiple emails and/or phone calls to book moves today. First there are emails back and forth, phone calls and voicemails, discussion of pricing options, scheduling of estimate discussions and on and on. This takes valuable time and extends the selling process. How great would it be to shrink the time from first contact to booked job? How helpful would it be to go from requiring 3-4 calls to finalize a move in 0-1 calls? In that time, you and your moving sales reps can be closing other moving prospects.
Sales expansion: Smart up/cross selling: Moving companies usually have additional services that they can help customers with. This goes from packing services, storage plans, additional protection plans and moving supplies. It's sometimes hard to know where to inject these offers in the traditional sales patterns. What if there was a way to contextually offer prospects these services at the right time in the sales flow. Wouldn't that be something?
With the opportunities we identified, we decided to come up with the simplest focused solution that could help moving companies without the typical overhead of a full blown moving company CRM. We came up with:
MoveBooker, a digital move booking assistant for moving companies that guides prospects through the process of getting their moves booked online. Installed as a simple plugin on any moving company's website, it would create an experience for moving customers as if they were talking to the smartest, most knowledgeable sales rep imaginable.
It would offer an experience to website visitors better than what the best sales script being executed by the best trained sales rep could offer. Moving companies would have not just leads, but well defined moving requests with well educated moving prospects that have clear next steps. Gone would be the old way of calling a website lead blind to start a conversation that should have already happened on their first website visit.
MoveBooker is the product we're most proud of as the experiences we used to build it were gained over the past 8 years of work we had spent working with Moving Companies via our MoveNinja CRM app. Building and launching MoveNinja allowed us to be students of the industry and we have been able to grow with our customers who have educated us along the way and given us great feedback along the way on the unique challenges of movers.
One other secret super power that allowed us to have insights into helping moving companies sell more online is the work we've done in slightly different industry over the past 8 years. We're also the team behind the successful RideBits product, which is a booking/dispatch/billing platform used by ground transportation companies all over the world. With RideBits - which has helped companies book millions of trips, we learnt the art of enabling online booking in an industry. We learnt how to design pricing systems around hourly rates, distances, payments and much more. Combining this knowledge with what we've learnt from our Moving CRM customers gave us the confidence and ability to bring digital selling to the Moving Industry as well.
We understood the problem we wanted to solve for movers, we had a good idea what the solution would look like, and in the middle of lock downs and a ranging pandemic, we went to work on building MoveBooker. On April 25th, 2020, the development of MoveBooker started officially...
With a level of focus afforded by the lockdown, our team went hard at this problem and we were having all sorts of fun doing things how we felt they should have been done all along. We started development in the spring of 2020 and towards the middle of the summer we released a prototype of the demo to get feedback from moving companies. We were very pleased with the level of engagement we received as movers eagerly signed up for early access and just kept coming back to try out the demo booking app we launched.
The feedback was so encouraging that we decided that we would use what was then looking like an extended pandemic to build MoveBooker to a point where movers would not just have to use it as a booking add-on but as a modern alternative to traditional moving company CRM software.
This gave us an amazing opportunity build a much better platform for Movers in this new world without having to worry about constraints of our existing software.
What's next for MoveBooker?
MoveBooker is now out in the wild and helping movers book moves with ease. Our product roadmap is all about how we can make all aspects of getting moves booked easier and better for movers. We are actively talking to more and more moving companies to get feedback and releasing features weekly. This is an open invite to any moving companies out there to jump in, try out our free demo to see what you think.