The Future of Move Booking: Online or In Person?

move bookingI might be dating myself, but in 1988 I was sitting at the NYC’s office of Shleppers Moving and Storage at 79th Street and Madison Avenue, one hand holding a phone receiver, connected to a land line, and the other making notes on a 3-inch by 4-inch index card. On the other line was a prospective customer, and the conversation was an over-the-phone move estimate and phone booking of this customer’s move. No computer was used, and when the move got booked, the card found itself in a small metal box which housed many other cards for moves booked for the same month, and the following as well.

CRM circa 1988.

Since then, many moving trucks crossed 79th Street from the East Side to the West Side of Manhattan, and vice versa. Computers and CRM systems took over the index cards, VoIP took over phone landlines, Waze took over the book maps, and on and on.

However, one element is still in existence: the human factor – the salesperson.

No matter how advanced the technology is, it seems like moving companies put a lot of stock in their salespeople who keep discussing the move details and are still the ones who click “submit” to book the move, after spending long minutes (at times very long) with their customers on the phone.

Hotels, airfare, concerts, sporting events, theater shows and on and on are being booked online, with no help from live salespeople. More and more service providers are moving to use the electronic method only for booking their service. Many do not even publish any phone numbers and require would-be customers and current customers to connect with them only via their online technology.

And what about the movers?

To my surprise, nearly all movers are using live and human salespeople to “sell” their services, and although innovative CRM technologies are being used in the move booking process, it is still the salesperson who ends up clicking “submit” to book that move.

Only two companies, who happen to be move aggregators, have adopted the full online method of booking a move: UNPAKT ( and iMoving (

Only one tech company catering to the moving companies has built their technology with full move booking capability, and it is UTS.

To understand the reason for sticking with human booking methods, I spoke with moving company owners. I found that moving company owners still feel salespeople are important in the process.

“Moving is not one size fits all. It is also a very stressful time,” said NorthStar Moving Company CEO & Co-Founder Ram Katalan. “That’s why we have combined our trained professionals with technology to provide personalized care with convenience. Our team customizes your moving services to your needs through online chats, virtual estimates and phone conversations if desired. Our virtual estimates are like FaceTime, we video chat with you room by room to give you a free estimate of the cost of your move. Moving day is more than just moving belongings, it’s moving a life and family. Our personal touch approach, combined with our online services, tailors moving services to each individual’s needs.”

It’s true – moving is stressful – but people are becoming accustomed to online booking. Wouldn’t an online move booking option have the potential to reduce moving stress?

Online booking would allow busy moving customers to book their moves when it’s convenient for them, not just during normal business hours. It would also appeal to younger generations who are increasingly anxious about having to talk on the phone.

Offering online move booking positions the moving company as an innovative and user-friendly resource. We know it’s possible, too, because moving aggregators are already using online booking.

Salespeople aren’t going to disappear. When online booking increases, some people will still want to talk to a real person, either because that’s their preference or because they’re having customer service issues. Salespeople will still be needed, but their role in the organization might shift somewhat as they take on a more service-oriented role.

That may seem scary. It’s natural to fear change, but we can’t let that hold us back. To meet the evolving expectations of customers, we constantly need to adjust our way of operating. Right now, this means making it possible for moving customers to book 100% online.

I would love to hear your opinion about this subject, so please feel free to contact me directly via email or LinkedIn.