Building a Marketplace for Moving with Luke Marklin

Future of Supply Chain Podcast, Episode 21

On Episode 21 of The Future of Supply Chain, we sit down with Luke Marklin of Bellhops Moving to discuss building a marketplace for moving and the culture surrounding it. Based in Chattanooga, Luke and his team are looking for innovative ways to help people enjoy the process of moving, while by creating a data-driven culture that focused on the customer. Luke began his journey at Uber where he served as a General Manager of several large cities throughout the Southeast. In 2017, Luke accepted the CEO position at Bellhops, and drew some parallels between the two companies. He understood that digitally-enabled service companies need to put a strong emphasis on the end-user experience and create a strong culture among suppliers. If you were to take a tour of the Bellhops office, or talk to any of the hundreds of employees, it would be clear that Luke and his team are creating a culture that is changing the way people think about moving.

Market Structure of Moving

The moving industry consists of over 15,000 moving companies scattered across the US, and equates to a nearly $5B industry. However, roughly half of these moving companies are comprised of less than 5 workers. Just like the trucking industry, the moving industry has remained highly fragmented over the years. With the majority of moves happening within a city, it is easy to see why there are so many local mom and pop moving operations. However, even with the majority of moves happening within a city, the actual majority of revenue comes from moving between cities. Bellhops is looking to capture these massively fragmented markets by implementing the tools and customer service needed to make the moving process a more cohesive experience. Luke believes their “secret weapon” in doing this is data, and their capacity to interpret data from anyone who interfaces with the Bellhops platform. Performance management is the number one way they implement data back into their feedback loops. Most companies simply rely on antiquated technologies, which can lead to inefficiencies, and end up franchising the business out. Bellhops is hoping to develop the technology and data to forward the industry, as well as increase margins and quality.

A Self-Regulated Culture

In today’s tech-enabled world, it may be hard for a company’s platform to stand out amongst the crowd. It seems that everyone is moving towards a completely autonomous future, one devoid of any human interaction. However, Luke’s mission at Bellhops is to blur the lines between autonomy and the workers that customers interact with. The first step to this process is building a community that gamifies the feedback loop and marketplace of Bellhops’ service. A community that encourages growth and support, and will lead to people naturally wanting to do better. A better performing employee makes a happier returning customer, ultimately leading to more profits. The genesis of the Bellhops culture started with the idea that data could influence not only how happy employees were to work, but also how they performed. Luke and his team believe that a data-driven community, will self-regulate and encourage healthy competition and growth. Bellhops’ mantra has always been, “Treat the employees like kings, and blow the customers’ minds.”. This customer-focused approach allows Bellhops to put their values first, and never lose sight of their mission.

How Does Bellhops 10x?

Currently, the moving industry is a very analog process with rudimentary practices. It is not uncommon for companies to run their operations entirely from clipboards and fax machines. These antiquated methods add unneeded stress to the moving experience, and generally make customers unhappy with the lackluster service. Bellhops saw these industry norms as an abundance of opportunity and designed their platform around modernizing the moving process. Luke says that the company puts a strong emphasis on when we get to the customer’s door, but their next step is going to be what happens before the move. Because is there is so much stress in moving, Bellhops wants to implement technology that streamlines and automates the entire process. Giving estimates in real time based off of a short video of the customer’s home, could potentially shave off days of moving time and keep costs low for both parties. Luke thinks that in near future customers could use an online interface to drag and drop boxes into rooms at their new home. This interface would give customers and Bellhops the ability to manage inventory and alleviate any potential for property loss. The end goal for Luke and Bellhops is to make moving an enjoyable process, one that could even be “fun” for customers. Through their data-driven decisions, customer feedback loops, and self-regulated culture, Bellhops seems to be the leader in making sure families can move their home safely to any destination.