Moving companies traditionally charge consumers a fixed fee for a move along with other costs: As a result, an already stressful process becomes more of a hassle for consumers. But services such as Bellhops are disrupting the market — and making a challenging time for consumers easier — by bringing an on-demand pricing model to the moving industry.
The idea came about by helping college students move in and out of their dorms at Auburn University in 2011. It expanded through word of mouth and grew into a platform beyond college campuses. “People [were] intrigued by the gig economy process of pay as you go,” Bellhops spokesperson Kyle Miller told PYMNTS in an interview.
Beyond offering flexible pricing, Bellhops seeks to differentiate itself by requiring a shorter lead time than traditional moving services. While consumers might need to book a truck and movers anywhere from three days or two weeks ahead of their moves, Bellhops seeks to work in a much shorter timeframe: The company needs only about 24 hours’ notice, Miller said.
To use the service, consumers can book a move online. They tell Bellhops how big their home is and what types of items they want to move. The service then matches consumers with movers that are best qualified for their job based on several factors, such as location, home size, items to be moved and timeframe. In addition, the company’s smart technology also tracks each mover’s performance through customer feedback and overall performance to ensure that high-performing workers are matched to jobs.
Beyond local moves, Bellhops has begun testing a service that allows customers to order moves between different cities in their network. Bellhops saw the need when customers who moved between homes in one of Bellhop’s cities, say, Chattanooga, Tennessee, needed to move to another city in the Bellhop network. “That person then gets a job in Knoxville,” Miller said. “And they’re calling to use our service.’
Now, by working with professional drivers, Bellhops is able to do just that. It’s a move Miller calls a “game changer.” The offering has another advantage: Customers can tap into Bellhop’s workers in multiple cities. “A lot of times with bigger moving companies, you are driving from place to place, plus the workers,” Miller said. “With us, you’re just doing the driver and truck.” As a result, Bellhops workers based in one city can pack and load up the truck, while Bellhops workers based in another city can do the unloading.
Overall, “Bellhops is a new breed of moving [that] allows us to break [the] mode and expectation that people have around moving,” Miller said. “People don’t realize that moving is accessible, and it is affordable.”
The Next Move
Since starting out at Auburn University, Bellhops has moved to Chattanooga for a very particular reason: The city has the fastest internet in the Eastern hemisphere, Miller said. Internet there is also pervasive and cheaper, which benefits a tech company such as Bellhops that can build its service at a lower cost than it could in, say, Silicon Valley.
In terms of growth, Bellhops said the company has made around 200,000 moves and is on track to grow 200 percent year over year by the end of 2018 (excluding portfolio expansion.) In addition, Bellhops reports that it has seen many repeat customers: Twenty percent of its customers use the service more than once within a year.
Currently, the service is in 22 cities and metro areas expanding across the Southwest, South and Mid-Atlantic regions from Austin, Texas, to Washington, D.C. Going forward, the company plans to include more cities in its service area. “We’d love to be in realistically all 50 states, barring maybe Alaska or Hawaii,” Miller said, adding that he hopes to be in the majority of U.S. states in the next two years.
Beyond geographical expansion, Bellhops seeks to expand its offerings to create a more full-concierge experience for its customers. The company is looking to accomplish that goal through partnerships, Miller said: “People need more than just labor before move and after move, and [we] want to make sure we’re supplying and having the right type of partnerships to supply an easy transition to the next town.”