3 Business Lessons Moving Companies Can Learn from Restaurants That Survived—and Thrived—During Economic Slowdowns

Wonjun Jeong
Wonjun Jeong
Last update:
October 23, 2023
min read
3 Business Lessons for Movers

3 Business Lessons Moving Companies Can Learn from Restaurants in Challenging Times

Stepping outside the box can help this dynamic American industry navigate the slowdown

In recent months, the moving industry has ground to a bit of a halt. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and moving company owners report the domestic migration rate reached its lowest levels in memory – even below those of the 07-08 financial crisis and shelter-in-place orders during pandemic peaks.

In better times, things are anything but slow. Generating a staggering annual revenue of $85.7 billion, the moving industry employs over 122,000 hardworking individuals, according to the American Moving & Storage Association. This is because millions of people pack up and move to new homes every year. In 2021 alone, U.S. census data shows 8.4% of Americans relocated, translating to roughly 28 million people. 

The average American moves 11.7 times in their lifetime. I, myself, have moved 14 times by the time I finished college.

So, why has the moving industry slowed down today? High interest rates, the cost-of-living crisis and a turbulent housing market are forcing many Americans to sit tight. While the industry has hit a speed bump right now, it is hardly unique in facing difficult times. 

The restaurant industry, which is also dominated by small and independent businesses reliant on customer reviews, often family-owned or immigrant-run, and traditionally slower to adopt big changes, had similar challenges during the pandemic. In 2020 and 2021, many beloved restaurants had to close their doors when Americans were ordered to stay at home. However, a significant number weathered the storm by trying new things. 

Here are three lessons movers can learn from these fellow entrepreneurs.

Lesson 1: Embrace Adaptability and Resilience

Restaurants demonstrated remarkable adaptability and resilience during the pandemic by shifting their business models in the face of adversity. They quickly recognized the need to pivot and began offering takeout, delivery and outdoor dining options to replace lost dine-in revenue. This ability to adapt to changing circumstances provides a valuable lesson for the moving industry. 

Movers should explore how they too can pivot to meet the needs of a shifting customer base. For example, they could consider adapting their residential services to serve commercial or military users. A combination of thinking smart and acting fast can help the exceptional businesses get ahead faster.

Back in 2020, we interviewed Stephan Lowy, CEO of Lowy's Moving Service to ask how he helped their company survive and thrive during the peak of 2020.

Lesson 2: Leverage Technology

Restaurants relied heavily on technology to streamline their operations during the pandemic. Online ordering systems, mobile apps, and contactless payment options became tools of the trade, essential for booking more customers and maintaining customer trust. 

Movers can follow this example by incorporating technology-driven solutions into their own operations. Implementing moving operating systems, digital booking, virtual estimates, online quotes, automation and real-time profit tracking can enhance efficiency, reduce tremendous paper and manual work costs, improve customer experience, and keep movers competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

Similar to how restaurants jumped on the likes of UberEats, OpenTable and all-in-one softwares like ToastTab and Owner, there are dozens of solutions in the market just for movers.

Here's is a Transition to Tech resource hub dedicated for the moving industry so they can see which tools can help adapt faster.

Lesson 3: Diversify Your Offerings

The pandemic prompted restaurants to diversify their business offerings to meet changing customer demands. Many establishments transformed into local grocery stores, providing fresh produce and pantry staples when supply chains were disrupted. This diversification not only generated new revenue streams but also fostered collaboration with local suppliers. 

Movers can similarly diversify their services by offering specialized solutions around packing and unpacking, storage, furniture assembly, and junk removal. They can also consider partnering with related vendors like cleaning services. By broadening their service portfolio, movers can adapt to shifting customer needs and enhance their value proposition.

Here's a deeper dive into how you can do this, featuring First Class Moving System's CEO & General Counsel, Chris Hunt.

Time to Move Forward

Restaurants faced significant challenges during the pandemic, but their success stories offer a way forward for movers. While consumer demand has picked up again in the restaurant industry, many establishments still use pandemic-inspired software and offer enhanced delivery and take-out services. These enduring changes continue to grow their bottom line and future-proof their business.

We have all heard that adversity breeds innovation. As the pandemic shows, innovation and agility can make the difference between success and failure in any industry. The current economic challenges facing the moving industry are likely a temporary setback, but it’s better to act now. Let’s learn from the restaurants that survived and thrived. Let’s take proactive measures to adapt movers’ business models for this current moment and into the future. 

Let’s get moving.

By Wonjun Jeong, CEO Supermove


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