What’s Happening with Those on the Go
Professional moving companies have shifted their heavy lifting to new levels of efficiency and expediency. Thanks to technology, a move is faster, greener, more accurate, specialized, and interactive in real time.
"There continues to be an abandonment of paper (better for the environment) where a surveyor comes to your house with a clipboard and does an assessment and estimate," says Joab Schultheis, vice president, chief information officer at Atlas Van Lines, Inc. in Evansville, Ind. In its place, Atlas agents across the country offer a remote video survey that enables surveyors to view what’s going to be moved from your home without ever leaving their desk.
This technology tool reduces fuel costs and drive time, improves time management and energy-efficiency initiatives, and has a very positive impact on operations and customer experience. At the same time, mobile apps enable the company to email documentation that also speeds up the process. On moving day, Atlas’ professional van operators have an app that records inventory to make sure everything that is scheduled to be moved has been picked up and nothing remains behind.
If you still want a person to come to your home to discuss moving details and provide an estimate, it’s no problem. Moving firms like Atlas oblige. Some customers also prefer a blend of the traditional moving process combined with use of new technology. Typically, those under 35 years expect and rely on digital options rather than phone calls or a personal visit.
New mobile apps make it possible for customers to track their moves in real time. Atlas’ MoveAtlas™ is a free mobile app with shipment tracking for your tablet or smart phone, and keeps you abreast of what’s picked up and what’s delivered. Says Schultheis, "We’re also focusing on providing those customers who want digital options with more self-service choices." "We are looking into offering customers the ability to schedule their own surveys or the type of survey they want. This puts it into their own hands."
In addition to the end-to-end moving experience, moving firms are also offering a menu of niche services. Schultheis says that Atlas agents partner with such groups as Move for Hunger to pick up unwanted food from clients’ homes on moving day. "And if you need help with such moving related tasks as connecting utilities, we partner with local providers and can arrange for those services", he says.
No one really knows what the future holds in the moving business. Will robots eventually be making moves? Will drones drop ship small moves? Probably not — at least not in the near future. However, driverless trucks are on the horizon, Schultheis points out. "We have a long way to go but the advancements continue. What I’ve read is that driverless trucks will have a driver onboard the vehicle to keep an eye on things but not be involved in the driving of the vehicle." One advantage is that driverless trucks can be on the road 24 hours a day, which will result in expedited service for customers and improved productivity for moving companies.
Whether you want a high-tech or a low-tech move, here are 7 key questions you may want to ask up front:
- What won’t you move? Pets? Chemicals? House plants? Cars? Big musical instruments like a piano? Do I need a specialized mover?
- Do you crate special items such as valuable art or sculptures?
- How do you calculate the cost of the move?
- Will I take care of my own packing, or will the moving company pack for me? And who will provide the packing materials?
- Do I need insurance to cover the move if something is damaged? What are the options? Atlas recommends Full Value Protection that provides coverage to repair or replace anything that may be lost, damaged or destroyed during a move. You – the customer – would then have damaged items replaced with like-items, or be given a cash replacement at current market value of items, regardless of the age.
- What about storage? Atlas has a warehouse management system that is being rolled out to keep track of items and their location. Items are tracked with barcodes and color-coded stickers as they arrive at the warehouse.
- Are there any discounts for seniors or AAA members? Atlas offers an AAA discount.
Moving is an emotional and physically challenging experience, whether the process is high or low tech. When your possessions are in the hands of a moving company, you want to make sure your belongings are delivered in a safe condition and timely manner.