Employee retention, recession readiness, and technology: 3 takeaways from our moving industry roundtable

Last update:
January 30, 2023
min read
Supermove industry roundtable with Matt Larmore, Kevin Ankenbauer, and Daniel Siracusa. 

We’re hot off the heels of Supermove’s first moving industry roundtable conversation. 

We were joined by Matt Larmore (Vice President of Sales/Co-owner: Bayshore/Allied Van Lines & ShoreView/NorthAmerican Van Lines), Kevin Ankenbauer (President of Ward North American), and Daniel Siracusa (Owner of Siracusa Moving) to talk about current challenges in the moving industry and how to survive in a recession. 

3 takeaways from the moving industry roundtable

1. Create a culture of empowerment and recognition to attract and retain good people

One of the biggest challenges that our panelists covered was capacity– everyone in the industry is facing major constraints, especially when it comes to staffing. 

Matt, Kevin, and Daniel all spoke about how they use company culture as a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting and retaining good people.

Provide advancement opportunities to incentivize younger workers

Moving is hard work and getting a younger labor force to want to do moving is tough. On top of that, younger generations are looking for more than good pay from their job. In order to get people interested in getting into the moving business, you need to provide advancement opportunities so they know they’re going somewhere. 

Create a culture that people want to be a part of

Workers want empowerment, and they don’t want to be considered “just movers”. If you can create something special for them that makes them feel good about what they do, you stand a better chance of keeping people. 

Give people the opportunity to succeed and even fail without being yelled at or terminated. This is where as a business owner, you need to know when to let go and trust your people; let workers problem-solve, and give them the chance to excel. Consider establishing internal training programs so you can create more opportunities and make people feel like they’re part of something.

Don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves to find good people

If you want to find great movers and drivers, you need to be willing to allocate a portion of your week to recruiting. This could mean driving or flying out to meet folks if they’re not able to make it to a call. And you need to put time into listening to them, understanding what they like and what their goals are, and building a common bond to connect with them.

Become a company of recognition

Recognizing people for their efforts is one of the biggest ways to keep them engaged. Kevin Ankenbauer shared an awesome example of how Ward North American handles recognition– with a weekly podcast! Kevin records the podcast every week to recognize people who have gotten great surveys and whoever gets the best surveys for the week gets $1000. Not only does the podcast make his employees feel recognized, it also helped increase positive surveys for the company.

2. We’re already in a recession, but movers are ready for it

Our panelists acknowledged that the past 20-ish months have been a great run for the moving industry, but think that this winter will likely look more similar to that of 2018-2019. 

That being said, they also called out that moving is more resilient in a recession than a lot of other businesses because of the existing rhythms in this industry. We go from high to low every year, with summers being crazy busy and things slowing down again in September. Movers are used to ramping up and ramping down and you already know how to prepare your balance sheet, how to stay liquid, and how to take care of your core staff.

Here are a few actionable tips from the roundtable on how to prepare for and weather a recession:

  1. Focus on holding onto talent/people– now is not the time to slash budgets or cut staff. Potentially be willing to make personal sacrifices in order to prioritize your people.
  2. Cross-train your people so they can move easily between different areas of the business. If you’re a diversified company, it’s good to have people who can work in multiple areas because there’s a good chance that not every area of the business will be affected at the same time. 
  3. Get better at looking at expenses. When things are going well it can be easy to get a bit lazy and not keep track of every penny. Be especially aware of what long-term debt is going on the books and work to mitigate its impact. 
  4. Change your mindset– a downturn can also be a good opportunity to grab market share. 

3. Systems are essential for creating the efficiency movers need

We spent some time talking about the role of technology for movers today, and a big theme that came up was the importance of having software and systems to manage increasingly selective drivers.

Gone are the days when drivers were OK being on the road for months at a time. Today drivers are more selective of what they want to do– be it long-haul, tough terrain, or long periods away from home. Managing a fleet of drivers, all with different needs and preferences is becoming borderline impossible to do manually. You have to have the systems (or software) to tap into scheduling efficiencies. 

On top of that, you can only ask drivers and movers to do so much. After a point, you can’t get more efficiency out of a human so establishing processes with software can help find those incremental gains that your business needs. This can look like anything from eliminating deadhead on the road to loading trailers quicker to expediting communication.

More than anything, Matt, Kevin, and Daniel shouted out the hard work and resilience of movers. It’s a tough industry (as the challenges discussed in the roundtable illustrate!) but with so many folks willing to share their knowledge and experience, it’s no wonder so many movers are thriving.

This is just a small snippet of what we covered in the roundtable. Check out the full conversation here!


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