Identity Theft Is A Serious Risk for Moving Companies

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Operations

Tags: Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Last month, an Atlanta man hired a random moving company he found online, put down a deposit for his move, and …

You know where this is going.

The “company” the man hired, he soon found out, was not a real moving company. It was a scam website that used the name of a real moving company located across the country in California. This scam website, the victim told Atlanta’s WSB-TV, even linked to the real company they alleged to be’s website.

The only victim, in this case, was the man who hired the scammers—a man who happened to be a lawyer with the skills and resources to get his money back. Meanwhile, the real moving company out in California would have had no idea what was happening if the man hadn’t reached out to them. But things could have turned out much differently. They usually do.

What do they do?

We see it all the time: someone sets up a phony moving company using a real moving company’s name to appear legitimate, then proceeds to swindle people out of their money, not only by charging a deposit for their non-existent services, but by using the victim’s credit card information to make additional charges. Or in some cases, just go shopping.

But the scam can also affect the moving company whose name has been stolen. Victims can start posting bad reviews on the real moving company’s Yelp page, filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau, or even contacting law enforcement authorities in an effort to get their money back while trying to make sure no one else uses these “scammers”. The effects for the legitimate moving company can be devastating.

How do they do it?

All businesses have an Employee Identification Number, or EIN, which works sort of like a social security number. These numbers are a matter of public record and are readily obtainable, sometimes even online. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that this right here can cause problems.

But that’s not the only piece of your company’s identity floating around out there; Besides your company name, address and phone number being readily available, some states require businesses to display their business license on the wall of their establishment, with their state registration information framed and hung for all to see.

With any of these few bits of information – printed out on a copy of your company letterhead, an extra nice touch as The Balance explains – it can be fairly easy for a person to set up a line of credit in your company’s name.

The savvier scammers out there even know how to change the information on your state registration files, one of the many additional schemes that Business ID Theft tells us to look out for. Spend some time reading through the various steps you can take to protect yourself and your company.

While you’re at it, check this page to review your business filings, and make sure you’ve kept up to date with all the required paperwork.

Here are some simple things you can do to prevent company identity theft:

  • Run periodic credit checks on your company
  • Read through your monthly credit card and bank statements carefully
  • Check Yelp for any false reviews
  • Be aware of your social media presence. Who’s posting what about you or what’s on your own Facebook page
  • Monitor your BBB rating if you are an active member
  • Set up a Google Alert for your own company’s name
  • Simply Google your company name every once in a while

Making sure you don’t end up with a sullied reputation is, sadly, a part of doing business. But you’ve worked hard to build up your business and your good name. Take the necessary steps to make sure no one out there destroys it.

Branding Your Moving Truck

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Sales & Marketing

Tags: Tags: , , , , , ,

rocknrolltruck-banner

Creating an Image. Showing Your Character.

Pop survey time!

Which of these moving trucks would you say stands out?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you said “C” you are in the great majority, congratulations!

Now, whether you as a customer would be dying to use these guys is another matter entirely. The image of a pirate-turned-mover may or may not compel you to grab your cell phone and start dialing but let’s face it: they certainly grab your attention.

So how to grab the attention of the community you serve? By building your brand as a part of your business – our focus of this month’s main feature.

Brand Theory

In The Basics of Branding Entrepreneur magazine spells it out like this:

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Great. That’s what it does. But I want to know what it is.

Okay, fair enough. Our friends at Entrepreneur go on to tell us that any branding effort starts with a solid logo: an image, a design, some sort of visual that communicates your brand – in other words, your character. So your task then is to come up with that magic bit of creative artwork. How?

Start by asking yourself a few questions.

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Alternatively:

If your moving company was an animal, what animal would it be?

Sound silly? A United Van Lines agent, that yours truly once worked for, used the image of a teddy bear for their logo. It was on their paperwork. It was on their uniforms. It was even on their trucks. The feeling they were trying to elicit was one of gentle care with all your most treasured possessions. This was my guess anyway; there was never an official explanation. The idea was simply put out there for each potential customer to (passively) feel whatever they felt upon seeing plush teddy.

And so it should go for all of us. Create that logo; a picture, a design or a combination of the two, in colors that work for you. And start putting that logo everywhere: on your website, on your paperwork, on your packaging and promotional materials. All of these places amount to opportunities to integrate your logo and, in turn, communicate your brand.

Don’t Wait

Mr. Namihei Odaira, the founder of Japan’s Hitachi group, created a logo for his company before they had produced a single product. ‘To establish trust between the company and the customer’ or so the story goes. Right from the start, then, Hitachi could begin developing their brand by placing their logo on everything they did.

With $21 billion in revenue in the second quarter of 2014 alone that logo must really be magic.

Even if you are already up and running and kicking some industry butt, if you don’t yet have that visual aspect of your brand consider adding one to your overall presentation. Because as we see in this article on the psychology of logo design, there really is power in that piece of art.

Now Say Something

Along with a logo a tagline helps create a strong sense of your mission in the minds of potential customers. Make it short. Make it powerful. Make it fat with meaning.

It doesn’t even have to be grammatically correct. Think Apple: Think Different.

And Back It Up

While it goes without saying, we’ll say it anyway. That logo can’t stand alone – even with the help of your tagline.

That logo, as it was said earlier, is your promise to your customers. Now that it’s out there, we need to back our promises with action that furthers our brand.

We know! Work hard!

Well, yes. But let’s listen to what our friends over at The Marketing Donut have to say about character, purpose and pride when building a brand.

Business2Community’s “7 Fresh Ideas for How to Brand Your Business” goes even deeper, explaining the concept of being authentic and building from the inside out. People make decisions largely on emotion. You can be the greatest mover in the region, but no one will know if you can’t first get through their front door.

So give it some thought. Who are you? Where do you come from – geographically or otherwise? As a moving company, what matters to you? What do you love? What drives you? Turn these things into a visual for your prospective customers and you’ll not only catch their eye, you’ll grab their imagination by showing them you are more than just a great mover.

And Yet, It’s Not About You

Another article from Entrepreneur disagrees with the idea that branding is all about you and your story. In dispelling the conventional wisdom of branding oneself: “you should focus on developing and promoting your products and services, not you.”

Yet the author goes on to say that “the sum total of all the experience customers have with a company, its products and services. That creates value.” So while it may be true we are selling our service, not ourselves, the two are so intertwined it is difficult to keep them separate. Our customers are not buying a toaster. They are inviting us into their homes…and letting us walk out with their stuff! A level of personal connection is inevitable. And this is where our brand comes into play.

If you don’t want to talk about who you are and how that drives what you do, that is fine. If your story has no direct bearing on your services then leave it out. Stick to an image, a visual, a concept the customer can readily connect with. And make that your story.

Now About That Black Truck

That image of the skull and crossed hand trucks is the logo of Real Rock n Roll Movers, a moving company tied to the music industry. Musician Scott Quist started the business with a group of musicians who needed to generate some income when they weren’t touring (or selling CDs though they don’t say as much). Naturally, they didn’t try to come up with a story – it developed organically.

Real Rock n Roll Movers began with a need, tied into the pursuits they enjoyed and the people they were. Theirs is more than a gimmick; it’s a symbol of what’s inside. And that is what makes a great image.

Nothing can take the place of quality service. But drawing more eyes and attention to our overall presence can hardly be a bad thing.

×

I'm Moving

Moving? Thinking about moving? Whether your move is off in the distance or you already have one foot out the door, you'll learn about everything you should expect through our useful how-to's, cool articles and much more. It's all specially curated for you in our "I'm Moving" section.
Explore
×

I'm a Mover

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.
Explore