Estimating fees for a moving job can be a time-consuming and costly affair. In the case of moving entrepreneur Dustin Blakemore, it required a full-time agent, who would spend an entire day driving to customers’ homes or businesses to scope out jobs and put together estimates.
“This wasn’t very efficient,” says Blakemore, franchisee of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK in Michigan’s Oakland County. He’s also General Manager of the moving company’s franchise in Genesee County, also in Michigan.
Often, his businesses had to forgo jobs in areas that were too far away to make in-home estimation a practical and cost-effective process, losing potential revenue.
But this has changed since Blakemore learned about the video conferencing platform BlueJeans Meetings and decided that virtual can be just as effective as in-person consultations, if not better. In a virtual consultation, a customer gives a tour of everything that needs to be moved, to help the sales agent calculate the cost.
Blakemore’s sales team has since transitioned away from in-home estimates and now does a mix of over-the-phone and virtual consultations.
“Our consultations via BlueJeans really grew and have become a standard practice,” says Blakemore. “Our sales guys would just text a link to the customer, the customer opens it, and boom, they are in it, no downloads required.”
In particular, the sales team appreciated the ease of connecting to BlueJeans as well as the high-quality audio and the professional look of the video, helping them to quickly embrace virtual consultations.
“Our sales team just raved about it,” says Blakemore. “It made it so easy to do virtual consultations.”
He personally likes how instead of showing his entire screen during a call, he can just share the application, avoiding disclosing any unintended content.
“The whiteboard feature is also pretty cool,” adds Blakemore. “You can annotate over the displayed screen while on a call.”
Expanding the Business
Now, Blakemore and his sales team don’t have to let go of opportunities just because it’s impractical to drive for hours to a customer’s place for an in-home consultation. They are taking on more jobs in parts of Michigan that were previously too far away for them to consider.
“I was in Clarkston [Michigan] the other day, and that’s a good two-hour drive for us,” says Blakemore. “In the past, we probably wouldn’t drive all the way there just to go look at a job that’s not going to be high in revenue. So, to be able to do that on the fly, we’ve definitely stretched our territory and made everything more efficient.”
The team even recently moved a customer’s belongings to an island using a pontoon boat. They were able to see the actual process of launching the boat through BlueJeans.
Maintaining High Accuracy
No longer employing a full-time agent to do in-home consultations, the franchises have trimmed their operating expenses without sacrificing the accuracy of their estimates.
“Typically, we want to be accurate on 80% of our cost estimates,” says Blakemore. “This might sound low but is a difficult thing to do when you’re collecting information over the phone or virtually.”
The franchises now average an all-time high of around 87% accuracy. “We’re extremely proud of that,” says Blakemore.
Sticking with Virtual Estimates
With virtual consultations now a key part of the franchises’ operations, Blakemore doesn’t see the business going back to doing in-home estimates.
“I think this is the future,” he says. “Not that I don’t enjoy doing estimates face to face, but this is so much more efficient. It saves you a lot of time and cost.”