At the beginning of 2020, the moving industry anticipated seeing growth. The pandemic’s arrival—with enforced lockdowns, pivots to virtual work, disrupted supply chains—affected the sector in a variety of ways.
Moving by the Numbers
Because the moving industry involves a range of sectors including suppliers, storage companies, designers, short- and long-distance haulers, and others, it generates significant revenue—about $84 billion annually. Employing over 122K, with a $3.6 billion payroll, the moving industry is one of the nation’s largest industries. The breakdown of moves that occur each year includes:
- 44% family or individual
- 37% corporate
- 16% military
- 2% government
Professional moving companies conduct approximately 650K moves each year. But experts predicted a 6% to 9% reduction in the demand for moving services in 2020.
The disruption caused by the pandemic, however, resulted in losses of billions of dollars of revenue. Economic projections from Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg’s Survey of Economists estimate a loss of between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion in revenue—between 12.2% and 19.9% of the industry’s revenue based on America’s Moving and Storage Association’s (AMSA) estimates on the moving industry’s size in 2020. The pandemic-related crisis was also projected to mean:
- 880 to 1,400 (12.7% to 20.7%) companies closing
- 11,500 to 18,900 (9.4% to 15.5%) of the current workforce losing their jobs
- $300 to $400 million (8.3% to 13.6%) reduction of the current industry payroll
Many moving companies more quickly implemented digital innovations and technological solutions to keep their operations moving.
A Changing Business Model Driven by Digital Innovation
The moving industry has, in general, been more reactive than proactive — especially concerning technological solutions. But leaders recognize that to reduce disruption and sustain forward momentum requires moving and relocation companies to become more agile and resilient.
Video surveys replaced in-home and in-business surveys, increasing sales efficiencies, cutting costs, and enabling sales teams to close more business after a wider acceptance by customers and sales staff. Experts anticipate continuing to use those surveys beyond the pandemic’s end.
Moving companies continue investing in technology and upgrading digital infrastructure to architect systems that facilitate virtual operations monitoring. Virtual meetings via online platforms have helped to reduce costs while ensuring companies can meet or exceed customer expectations and KPIs. Touchless payment options — and more digital touchpoints — has also led to overall time and cost-savings.
Website updates included options for clients to self-book. Clients now have options to track their moves and receive real-time service updates via an app. There’s been a greater emphasis on transparency in fees, thanks to increased client expectations.
Digitization doesn’t just improve customer experiences—it also improves workflows on the provider end. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can automate and increase efficiency of workflow processes. Personnel can collect and analyze real-time data to provide a 360° view of every customer to make adjustments and improve quality of service more proactively.
Not Just Moving Companies Any More
As part of the logistics and supply chain, moving companies have begun to specialize and diversify. In an increasingly mobile world, suppliers have continued developing and expanding their service portfolios, acting as specialists within external partners to offer:[JI1]
- Moving of goods requiring special handling
- Commercial moving
- Residential moving
- Transportation of boxed, palletized and other packed goods
- Warehousing services including handling, storage, and packing services for goods
While major changes are happening, successful moving companies will adapt to the changes by continuing to offer expanded services like containerized moving and storage, a model that’s grown in popularity with Pod and similar companies.
The Future of Moving
The Global Moving Services report estimates that the moving services market will grow by $1.95 billion between 2020 and 2024, advancing at a CAGR of 2% during this forecast period. The year-over-year (YOY) growth rate for 2021 is estimated at -3.93% by the end of 2024.
According to Forbes, the moving industry is ripe for disruption. The industry lacks standardized prices, brand awareness and quality service. Some experts feel now is the time for one company to lead the disruption, professionalizing the industry, creating standard prices, setting an expectation to deliver high quality service, and show true brand value.
Office moving has become a major source of business, with an average gross profit margin of 50% and lower labor skill than required for residential moves, according to the Office Moving Institute. Moving companies with a specialty in commercial moves have teams and tools specifically designed to move bulky office equipment safely and securely. In addition to furniture moving and installation, these companies offer warehousing and storage and packing services.
If you’re planning an office move, keep these tips in mind:
- Begin preparations three to six months in advance—in fact, the more notice, the better, so you’ve got time to measure the new space, make adjustments, order new or additional furniture and account for supply chain delays
- Discuss and strategize the move with your IT team, since they’ll be tasked with setting up the internet and other technological infrastructure to get your operations up and running in the new location
- Verify the moving company you’ve hired has the proper moving insurance
- Check for any possible logistical restrictions associated with moving at your current and new building. Some buildings, for example, don’t allow moves to occur during normal business hours. If parking is at a premium at either location, verify where truck(s) can legally park.
- A new address also requires updates to business stationary, websites, and other company documents, and make those updates prior to your move. Now might be the perfect time to consider that rebranding if you were thinking about refreshing your logo or business name
- Determine what packing assistance you’ll need. Will your employees chip in to help or only hold responsibility for securing their own personal items?
- Walk the new space with the new building manager before your move-in to test outlets, identify potential interior issues like missing lightbulbs.
- Discuss security for during and after your move—who will attend valuable equipment like equipment and other technology or furniture? Appoint someone (or a team) to monitor open moving trucks.
Whether you’re ready to make a move now, or planning a move for the future, talk to one of the experts at CREA United, a collaborative commercial real estate group of firms representing all disciplines within the commercial real estate industry. The group offers “one stop shopping” among its members, each of whom are committed to providing the highest quality service and industry guidance.
Contact member Cynthia Myer, president of Ridgewood Moving Services Co., who can coordinate your move; Debra Hoffman, president of System Office Design, who can outfit your new space; or Mike DeSomma, president and CEO of Teknalysis Corporation, who can handle all IT aspects of your relocation.