Meet the Guy Who Wrote the Book on Moving: The Long Haul

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After years in the moving business, you’d probably have enough stories to write an entire book. Maybe you could write an entire series of books. Maybe you’ve got so many stories you wouldn’t even know where to start.

Then again, maybe you and I would have given up if we had fallen through an attic on our first days as a mover.

Cue college dropout Finn Murphy. Despite this (and many more) stories, he managed to hang in there and learn the ropes of the moving business, from carrying stuff to packing a trailer to driving a big rig down a narrow tree-lined street.

As he tells the story, ten years he worked as a mover and hauler until, exasperated with the way the industry worked–or, more precisely, the way it didn’t–he walked away. Finn was off the road for 20 years, first running his own business importing Irish linens then taking over a customer’s business on Nantucket where he would live and even serve as mayor at one point.

But there’s no telling where life’s road will take you, and eventually, Finn Murphy’s road led him to Colorado and back into the trucking business. After a few years he began writing down and recording his thoughts, his insights and, of course, his many crazy experiences. And now he’s put them all in one place: a 226-page memoir called The Long Haul.

In his book, Finn covers the spectrum of life in the moving business, from the everyday stuff to the personal nightmares to the future of the industry. He talks about the cowboy culture that permeates the trucking industry. He details his experiences with some of his worst customers. And he relates the feeling of being behind the wheel, roaring down the Interstate or rumbling down 6th Avenue in Manhattan.

Murphy’s book is getting plenty of great reviews. But don’t let that stop you from keeping track of your own stories from the road.

Come to think about it, this HireAHelper community of ours probably could put out an entire series of books! Who’s in?

Meet the World’s Most Expensive Movers

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Tired of hearing about how expensive it is to move? “Why is there a charge for shrink wrap?” “I shouldn’t have to buy more boxes, you guys should fit everything in the ones out in the garage!” “What do you mean furniture pads aren’t free?!”

Well, believe it or not, there is a cure for these experiences. Their names are Stephanie, Sara and Cassio, and apparently, they are more than happy to pay all kinds of extra charges for what they are being told is a “white-glove move”.

Courtesy of the New York Times, here are some examples of what this white glove mover service in New York City is willing to help you out with.

  • $150 extra per move for a special “low-noise” box tape: For people who “don’t like the screeching sound of regular packing tape.” (Bonus guarantee: If the low-noise tape runs out, someone will hold their white-gloved hands over your poor delicate ears for you.)
  • $180 per hour (!) to figure out your move: That means they’ll do “…everything from taking an inventory of your home, to creating a budget and interviewing moving companies.” (Just don’t expect them to lift anything heavier than a pair of white gloves.)
  • $200 for a ride to your new home: Because, my god, have you ever seen how dirty a cabbies hands can get?
  • $500 per day to call the cable and gas companies to inform them of your new address: Yup, someone out there will pay you 500 clams to be put on hold for you.

To prove that people are willing to toss their money around like this, the Times also offers a few quotes, including a couple beauties from private citizen Stephanie:

“As with many of us,” says Stephanie, “my moves have often been hideous experiences.” (My god! They’re not even wearing white gloves!)

This type of service is “extremely helpful,” she continues. “Not like having boxes in a dark basement that are stuffed with 50 dining room dishes and a lampshade.” 

Pamela Muller, co-owner of NouvelleView, the company in question that specializes in suckering customers into thinking they can’t handle an address change, says her firm will “oversee every aspect, from the initial strategic plan to seeing that every box is unpacked.” (Especially the ones in that dark, scary basement.)

“I always say to clients that we are the most expensive in the business,” says Michael Jaque, a director at the shipping company Gander & White. At least they know what’s coming.

The funniest part about all this? NouvelleView says many of their clientele, with their delicate ears and their taxi cab allergies, still hire a traditional moving company to handle the bulk of the items!

And this is where you come in. Charge Stephanie, Sara and Cassio whatever you want for that shrink wrap, those boxes and the furniture pads you’re getting back anyway.

Just make sure you pick up some white gloves at Wal-Mart on your way over.


Cover photo from The New York Times.

‘What’s an SEO?’ Simple Strategies to Drive More Traffic – and Customers – to Your Moving Website

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Rare is the person who has never heard of “SEO”, or Search Engine Optimization. Or at least someone who doesn’t know that someone out there is paid a lot to know how it all works.

SEO is critical for driving more traffic – and more potential customers – to a website. But how do we movers “do” SEO? How do we convince those internet search engines to point more people to us?

There are actually tons of ways. Some are easy to implement, while others … not so much. Today we offer up three easy strategies you can put to use right away (plus a tip for holding onto those potential customers who come to your virtual door).

Keywords are everything.

Keywords are what bring your customers and you together – provided you are using the right ones! So what are those magic words? Just think: What would people type into that little search box on Google if they want to find a moving company in, say, Boston? That’s right: “Boston moving company”. But how many moving companies are there in Boston? You’ll want to set yourself apart somehow so those search engines will pay you some attention.

How? People moving in to or from Boston aren’t usually just looking for a moving company. Really, they’re searching for “Boston movers that can assemble furniture,” or, “insured Boston movers.” What specific services or features do you offer? When you’re writing your webpage, build one that cleanly and clearly explains each feature you offer, so that as Bostonians search for “Boston area pet-friendly movers”, they’ll find your animal-lovin’ crew at the top of their search results.

7 Embarrassing Lessons

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

7 Embarrassing Lessons I Learned While Moving People

Lessons I, Kevin The Mover, learned during my earliest days on the job through the mistakes of others (and my own).

There’s a website for that.

As good as your plain guesses might be on what people are searching, go one step further with these free SEO keyword tools that help unearth even more magical keywords:

Moving Company SEO Tips

With Moz’s Keyword Explorer, you can do 20 free searches per month. Plugin your best guess at a search phrase and Moz reveals data for that phrase, including how many times that phrase gets searched, its ranking difficulty, along with a list of additional keyword ideas.

Google Keyword Tool

Google’s Keyword Tool is also a great tool. It’s powerful, offering long lists of related keyword suggestions alongside search volumes for each phrase. It’s true that you have to log in to use it, but anyone can sign up for a free Google account. (You might benefit from using Google’s advertising tool, Adwords – but that’s a post for another day!) Keep in mind – Google purposefully does not show all the keyword suggestions they have in their secret vault. They also only report an estimate of the search volume (the times a keyword phrase is searched). That means if you’re seeing phrases estimated at 10-50 searches per month … it could actually be double or triple that.

There are about a million other keyword suggestion tools out there – Übersuggest, SEO Book’s keyword tool (requires a free account like Google), and others each offer their own spin and data on keyword search ideas.

What do you do with these words?

Now that you’ve got your master list of keywords, the question arises: Where do we put them?

Answer: all over your website! This piece on keyword placement suggests several places to put them, from the obvious (the title of your website) to the semi-technical (your META description) to the biggest, broadest aspect of your entire website: your content. 

This does not mean you cram a keyword phrase into every corner of a page. Using a phrase 100 times on a page to try and rank for it in searches will actually get you “in trouble” with the search engines (you won’t rank). Use the phrase normally as you would on any page talking about that topic. A page talking about pet-friendly movers will naturally mention being “pet-friendly” a decent amount of times.

What does “content” mean, exactly?

This is the meat of your website – It’s about writing high quality, authoritative content around topics you’re already an expert on.

Search engines have gotten surprisingly good at doing more than scanning your content for the right keywords like they did in 2000. Now, search engines basically read your content and separate which content is high quality versus keyword fluff. That means if you’ve spent the last 10 years training your crews in the intricacies of moving pets (and have had a website that whole time), Google will detect if you write content that’s from your expertise… or just “words words words keywords words keywords”.

Don’t get me wrong, the keyword phrases on your list need to appear in the content at least a few times. In fact, after you’re done writing, it’s important to search your content for that keyword phrase to make sure it’s in there. But like I said before, don’t cram the keyword into every line. Your content should sound natural and informative to any reader. Just like you would want to read.

Protip: Search engines tend to pay more attention to websites that are updated regularly. This means it is advantageous to add content to your site once in a while. The most common, and perhaps most relevant way to do this as a moving company, is to maintain a blog! It can have tips for packing, guidelines for moving or even stories about your company. Just make it clear, quick and fun. And yes, find a place for those keywords!

Keeping a blog takes time, but it can be time well spent when those blog posts start bringing in interested customers.

Putting links to other people is essential.

The “World Wide Web” is exactly that: a web. And in this massive, intertwined virtual community, where would you rather be? Off by yourself hanging out in a remote corner? Or in the middle of thousands of people?

“Backlinks” are a specific type of links, which in themselves are just electronic threads that connect your website with other websites. From a technical standpoint, backlinks are links on other websites that transport people to your website. The best (not the quickest or easiest, but the best) way to create these backlinks is by creating content for other websites – content that either contains or ends with a link or links that will bring people from that website to yours.

That means giving other websites reasons to link to you!

The important point to note here is that with backlinks, you aren’t solely attracting the people who read those guest articles you write for other websites. It turns out that when other sites link to your site, search engine starts thinking you must be something special and will bump you up higher toward the top when someone does a search using the keywords you’ve embedded in your site.

It’s all coming together!

To score a couple of backlinks, you might start out by writing moving-related articles for your local paper or an organization like your Chamber of Commerce. Or go big and shoot for a place like the Huffington Post that draws millions of readers every month. Not everyone will read what you’ve written, but the mere fact that you now have a backlink from a site as heavily-trafficked as the HuffPost means search engines will really think you are something special.

One last thing protip!

Speed. Let’s face it. People are impatient. Once upon a time, we would be excited if the postcards we sent from our tropical vacation got home to our friends before we did. Now we get frustrated if we can’t upload our selfies right there on the beach.

Same with using the net. People don’t want to wait. So if your site doesn’t appear within no more than a few seconds, your potential customer will start hitting that back button to move on to someone with a faster homepage. 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, according to Kissmetrics. This is particularly relevant with the mobile version of your site – Google itself reports that 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned if pages take longer than 3 seconds to load. And what takes the most time to load? Images!

There is a myriad of ways to minimize the time a potential customer has to spend waiting for your site to load. Many of them require a bit of technical know-how. But reducing the size and thus the load speed of your images is simple. Want to know how? Try tinypng.com to compress your images – as they get smaller without losing quality, you’ll see how much faster your site moves!

Taking over your block.

So will this SEO advice really work for you, the small moving company with big ambitions? We think so. For a real live example of how a moving company figured out how to boost their SEO situation, check out this story on SLC Moving of Salt Lake City.

Go the extra mile to map out a strategy for increasing your traffic, your customer base, and your bottom line. That’s what the big moving companies are doing.

Quick Thinking Helps Two Nearby Movers Prevent a Disaster

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Down in Albuquerque, NM, two movers were just finishing up a job when they encountered a woman panicking, saying something about a fire behind her home. The men went to see what was going on, and upon seeing the flames jumped into action.

According to KRQE Newsone of the men remembered that there was a fire extinguisher in their truck. Unfortunately, that would only last for so long, and once it was empty the movers began kicking dirt at the perimeter of the fire, managing to keep it contained until the fire department showed up.

The obvious moral of the story is two-fold; One, make sure your trucks are properly equipped. Fire is a hazard in any season, and in the summer heat that potential for disaster only grows. And two, keeping a cool head in the heat of the moment can literally prevent someone’s world from going up in flames.

This is huge because accidents happen all the time. North of the border, sadly, disaster recently played out. In a suburb of Toronto, Canada a six-year-old boy was riding his bicycle when he was struck and killed by a moving truck.

Not much is known of the details. All we can say is please be careful, this summer and all year round. Because sometimes kids, and those around them, are not.

Blocking New Movers: West Virginia the Latest State to Repeal Unconstitutional Anti-Competitor Law

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First, we saw it in Missouri, then in Kentucky. Then in Oregon and Pennsylvania.

One by one, states are repealing laws requiring new moving companies to obtain a special “Certificate of Need” permit before they open up shop.

What the heck is a “Certificate of Need”? Commonly referred to as “competitor’s veto” laws, these statutes have allowed existing moving companies to block new companies – read: new competition – from entering the marketplace. But now small moving company owners like Raleigh Bruner in Lexington and Cosmo and MaryAnne Losco in Philadelphia can operate without their competitors’ permission, thanks in part to the Pacific Legal Foundation’s fight against these unconstitutional laws.

West Virginia Movers. AP Photo/(Denis Poroy)

The latest case played out in West Virginia and involved a Virginia-based moving company – located just ten miles from the West Virginia border – that had been barred from performing moves into, out of or within West Virginia. With that state repealing their competitor’s veto law, plaintiff Arty Vogt (and a host of unnamed others) can now operate freely and, in accordance with the protections of the constitution, earn a living without undue government interference.

Usually, we hear a few words from the people who have been affected by the existence – and subsequent repeal – of these anti-competitor laws. This time we get a full-blown personal account of Mr. Vogt’s very personal struggle to exercise his right to earn a living. In Vogt’s own words:

In 2012 we received a letter from the state of West Virginia telling us that we did not have proper legal authority to service local and intrastate moves within that state. This was a devastating blow to our small border-town business. We received calls nearly every day from potential customers in West Virginia asking for help — customers we now had to refuse”

As revealed later in this story, thousands of dollars in legal fees and jumping through the regulatory hoops didn’t help.

“Even though we were professionally qualified to provide the service, had a federal license to do interstate moves, and had never had a complaint, these factors didn’t overcome protests from the existing moving companies, who claimed they could handle the business without us. Remarkably, the major protest came from a large moving company with its nearest local office 150 miles from the area in which we operated.”

But this is America. And in the end, the Constitution – and Arty Vogt – won out.

Unfortunately, as the PLF states at the end of their own piece on Vogt and West Virginia, many states still have similar anti-competition laws on their books, applied to many industries, not just ours.

And so the fight for free enterprise, and thus more moving competition, rolls on.

How to (Properly) Wrap Cords For Your Customers When Packing

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Tips on packing electronics and other electrical household items are easy to come by. What’s not as common is how to safely deal with their electrical cords or whether they are fixed, detachable or retractable. Do we tie them up? Tape ’em down? Wrap them around what they’re attached to?

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How to Use a Dolly Like the Pros

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Moving house without a hand truck – or a dolly – is like riding a bicycle without a seat. It’s technically possible, but honestly, who does that?

A sturdy, reliable hand truck is any mover’s best friend. Used properly, it saves you time, rescues your back and it can singlehandedly keep your stuff from getting damaged.

(Thinking of a square furniture dolly? CLICK HERE.)

But they’re not as easy to use as they look, provided you are using them in the proper way. With that in mind, here are tips compiled by moving pros as to how to optimize that hand truck you found in the back of your moving truck, or that one your friend let you borrow and you don’t want to return broken.

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Wanted: Bad “Mover” in North Dakota

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Fake movers do a lot of stuff: Steal people’s belongings, take down payments and then fail to show up, post bogus ads on craigslist. We hear about this stuff all too often. And too often nothing is done.

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For rookies or veterans alike, our "I'm a Mover" section is filled with extensive industry news, crucial protips and in-depth guides written by industry professionals. Sharing our decade of moving knowledge is just one way we help keep our professional movers at the top of their game.
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