What Removals Services Should Man and Van Businesses Offer?

There are plenty of so-called man and van businesses operating throughout the UK today. Many of them, but by no means all, are run by sole traders who have invested in a van and are using their primary business asset to do relatively small jobs. Most man and van businesses will be used to picking up waste from businesses and homeowners to take to the municipal dump for them or to move furniture between addresses that are owned by the same individuals, for example. However, man and van businesses can also generate income by marketing themselves as removals professionals. Although home removals work is a bit more specialist than other sorts of man and van work, it is certainly feasible to compete with professional removals company at the lower end of the market and leave the bigger companies to deal with larger house moves. What’s involved with converting your man and van business to start work in the home removals sector?

Marketing as a Removals Firm

The first thing to say about removals work is that you do not need to be licensed to carry out this sort of work with vans in the UK. However, if you join one of the trade associations involved, then – bearing in mind that certain criteria may apply – you will be able to advertise your man and van firm as a removals company. Of course, you won’t necessarily have the manpower to operate as a large removals firm would, so it is best to market your company in such a way that it isn’t seen to be competing for large-scale businesses. Many successful man and van removals firms don’t charge set fees for a removals job as a professional moving company would. Instead, they set hourly rates for their work when conducting removals just as they might for other sorts of man and van work.

The obvious question that a would-be client might put to you is how much it is likely to cost them to help them move compared to a professional removals firm. Although the answer is obviously time-dependent, the key thing to point out is that the customer will only pay for the service they receive and that, for smaller jobs, it is likely to be cheaper to book your service than a full removals firm. If you are successful with smaller jobs, then adding an extra worker for larger jobs at an increased hourly rate would be the way to go.

As for where to market your service, social media pages that deal with business services in your locality would be a great start because they’re usually free. However, the best place to get the message out there is on the side of your van. Signwriting that states you operate as a removals firm as well as providing other man and van services will soon get the message where you want it to be seen locally and start to generate enquiries.

A Focussed Service Offering

When a man and van operator is being marketed as a business that can also handle removals work, it is a good idea to link the fact that you tend to operate at the smaller scale with the sort of service you provide. Customers who want a professional removals firm to move their five-bedroom mansion are going to be hard to convert to your sort of service as a man and van operator so don’t concentrate there. Instead, focus your service on helping people who currently house share to move. You could do much worse than to advertise your man and van service as one that is aimed at the student accommodation market in your locality, for example. The time to push your business with student moves is just before the end of each term when students tend to need a cost-effective way to move a few larger items.

In addition, man and van services can be a very effective means of helping flat owners and one-bedroom house owners to move. You might need more than one trip in your van – depending on its size – to carry out such removals work but this can still be cheaper for smaller property owners than booking a full-scale removals service. Don’t forget about renters, either, because they will often be looking for a cost-effective removals service when their tenancies come to an end and they need to move out.

Offer Adequate Protection

Of course, the mainstay of any man and van removals service will be dealing with furniture, appliances and other possessions that people need to be picked up from their current home and loaded onto a van to be taken to their new address. So long as you already have the necessary lifting and handling experience, then such work shouldn’t come as too much of a change from your normal day-to-day work. However, removals work often involves a bit more finesse than you usually experience as a man and van operator.

For example, lifting items like divan beds, settees and wardrobes will sometimes mean having to protect items from scuffs as they are moved around. Removals firms will often drape sheets over such items to help protect them so you should consider getting yourself some of these to make your removals work that bit more professional. Equally, protecting carpets as you go in and out of a property is also important, especially on rainy days, so some sort of floor protection is advisable.

In the end, however, breakages will inevitably occur with this sort of work. When you are clearing an entire property for someone as a man and van operator, it rarely matters if an item is damaged. When it is someone’s treasured belongings, however, it can be quite different. As such, man and van operators who want to break into removals work should always consider the value of proper insurance for breakages in transit. Remember that you won’t be able to tell a mover that they should claim on their household insurance if something breaks or goes missing during their move. Most contents insurance policies don’t cover such breakages if they occur during a move.

Furthermore, public liability insurance is something that all removals firms – big and small – really need. In fairness, you may already have this from your run-of-the-mill man and van work. When you are moving people’s belongings out onto the street to load them up, then public liability insurance is really a must just in case a passer by is injured while the move is ongoing. The same goes for when you will be loading or unloading in places with communal areas. Many blocks of flats have stairwells and corridors where accidents could occur. Without the necessary insurance, being sued could be a business-critical event.

Extra Service Provision

With the basics of removals work covered, you should also consider what other services you can offer as a removals firm charging at man and van rates. For some, this will involve helping people to prepare for their moves. Some people are too clueless or too busy to prepare for their move which means more work on their moving day for you. It can make things tight, especially if you have another job to get to. As such, increasing numbers of man and van operators offer a pre-packing service nowadays. This essentially means putting your clients’ possessions into moving crates on their behalf a few days before their move is due. Charging by the hour, this can increase the value of such jobs enormously. Even better, by providing the packing materials to your customers, you will also be able to generate some more profit by marking up the cost of such items.

As a removals firm, it is also a good idea to mention that you undertake furniture assembly and disassembly. After all, most modern home furniture is now supplied in a flatpack form. If you have the necessary skills to disassemble such furniture to load it onto your van for a move, then why not sell your reassembly service, too? This is not part of what most removals companies would consider their core work but numerous householders will be only too pleased to have their furniture put back together for them at a busy time. Indeed, if you are in the business of collecting furniture for your clients that they have bought and delivering it to them, then a flatpack assembly service is definitely something you should at least consider adding to your service offering.

Finally, it is also worth considering taking on office removals work, too. Once you have conducted a few home removals for clients in your area, the leap to undertaking office removals work won’t seem that great. Yes, office removals work does involve some more specialist skills, such as what to do with office equipment like a photocopier, for example, when it is in transit, but much of the knowledge you need can be acquired on the job. In some cases, commercial moves can be charged at a higher rate because they’re often conducted at weekends or during the evening.