Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let me be frank for a moment...

I just got off the phone with the umpteenth caller about our Living Social deal. I get it -- it's structured a little weird (you pay for a voucher that gets you a lower rate for a specific period of time). It took me a long time to get my head wrapped around it, but it actually makes sense and you DO save money off our regular rates.

However, I need to have a talk with you people.

No, not YOU people, i.e. the 99 percent of our customers who are awesome and friendly and forgiving of our thankfully increasingly infrequent start-up foibles. I'm talking to you people who would never use us if we weren't offering a chunk off our already low rates, and who will never use us again at full price. Specifically, I'm talking about people like the woman I just spoke with who said she's trying to decide between us "and a couple of Mexicans on the corner." (I must note: I have zero animosity toward Mexicans, Central Americans or South Americans, all of whom are among the friendliest and hardest working people I've ever met. However, if we're talking about unlicensed and unregulated workers, that's another story, and really, the subject of this rant...)

Here's the thing: we haven't raised our rates in about a year and a half. Maybe two years. And our rates are already well below standard industry rates. (I was recently shocked to learn the rates of one of the companies in my "Trusted Mover Network.") For a long time I was perfectly happy keeping them where they were because they were about what people expected, and they were just enough to allow us to keep the lights on and grow a little bit. Sometimes people would feign outrage upon hearing our rates, but because more people would say "Wow, that's really reasonable!" I'd know that the former people were full of it.

I have ALWAYS striven to be fair with people, ever since the first days with just me and my pickup truck.

Enough with the preamble--here's the deal: If price is your main concern, then there are plenty of other options out there for you. Craigslist has literally dozens, probably hundreds, of small-time operators who haven't paid the dues we have. They pay no insurance fees, they pay no taxes. They pay their guys squat, expect nothing of them except a little discretion when they steal people blind. Their names are as permanent as smoke in a tornado, so they have no stake in building a reputation. They can simply change their names and screw the next customers over.

Through literal blood, literal sweat (obviously), and literal tears, we've earned hundreds of 5-star reviews on We've earned three consecutive Angie's List Super Service Awards, and we've maintained an 'A' average with the Better Business Bureau (which, admittedly, does seem to be more "pay for play" than I'd like, but whatever, we've had no complaints.) We take customer service very seriously, and I personally guarantee to lose sleep at night if I think a customer believes we've wronged them somehow.
This is our third consecutive Super Service
Award, thank you very much.

So, if price is your main concern, don't buy the Living Social voucher. Go with the $55/hr guys. Maybe they won't screw you over. Maybe they'll actually address your claims in a timely manner. Maybe, just maybe, you'll get a new illegal start-up moving company that still is concerned about customer service and will do the right thing regarding damages. I, however, pay my fair share. I pay more in taxes per quarter than I've paid in entire years of my working life. I am building a LEGITIMATE company, and once again, I assure you, I pay my fair share, and then some. And I do it by treating our customers with respect and fairness.

If you can respect that, then please let me serve you. If not, we're not the guys for you.



Anonymous said...

At first I was a little shocked at the risky move you were taking to rant about potential and new customers...but as I read through you're rant, I realized you're totally right. Good for you! Building a start-up is hard work and, as I'm sure you have come to realize now, LivingSocial isn't watching out for the little guy. Good luck and I'm looking forward to having your movers help me soon!

Christopher said...

Thanks for the reassurance. I wasn't sure I should write it, but I realized that this would only offend people who would only consider using us if we worked for free. And that's the thing -- to reach a price point where a lot of these people would call "fair," I'd have to work for far less than cost. We don't just make these numbers up -- it COSTS a ton of money just to run such a business.

Thanks again for writing. I'm surprised someone actually reads the blog! I'll have to take that into account... Lol.