) -- Naftali Garber is sales and marketing coordinator of
Golan's Moving & Storage
, one of largest storage companies in Chicago. Garber became coordinator at the company's flagship office in Skokie, Ill., a little more than a year ago as the company began growing exponentially -- even nationwide. With that success and that of his own technology solutions firm,
Cook County Customs
, Garber has quickly become one of the area's most well-respected entrepreneurs. He offered us insight into how a local moving company expands:
How has Golan's become so successful in the Chicago market?
Competing with several other large companies in the area is no easy task when you factor in the amount of money spent on overhead costs and maintaining equipment. However, we are surprisingly well-equipped for such a small organization. The company utilizes 25 local trucks -- the kind of box trucks one can see driving through the streets of Chicago on any given day -- as well as five semi-trucks. This enabled us to pull in approximately $9.5 million in revenues in 2011.
Why did the company decide to expand to new markets?
When we realized just how many moving jobs were taking us out West last year, we decided to open a sales and operation office in Los Angeles. Now we find ourselves gaining the additional business needed to travel back and forth between the two cities for jobs, making long-distance trucking more profitable. Our L.A. sales department has proven sizable and efficient, coordinating 10,000 moves last year alone. In fact, as the number of moves increases, the department continues to grow in order to support higher demand. The most significant push has been to increase retail consumerism while working directly with individuals such as real estate agents and building managers, not simply end users. In the offseason, building a network of referral sources that can continue to recommend us to their target audience should pay off in higher profit margins later down the line.
What were the challenges of this expansion for the company?
Moving is always a difficult and challenging time. Despite the excitement of settling into a new home, the scheduling process, coordination efforts, packing and heavy lifting can prove extremely stressful. This anxiety is easily doubled when facing a cross-country move. Consumers may hesitate to want a stranger in their home -- touching, packing and moving all of their worldly possessions -- all the while attending to their families, booking flights or driving hundreds of miles. We try to make moving as easy as possible because our primary concern is to make the challenging task of relocating worry free for customers.
How have you addressed these challenges?
Addressing this challenge begins with a solid sales teams and fair pricing options. Moving rates are incurred by the hour, so we strive to provide the best, most efficient team to ensure that customers pay as little as possible. Maintaining regular inspection schedules
on our trucks enables us to meet seasonal demand, which in turn, allows us to employ a greater number of workers in their peak season, including movers with 10 or more years of experience.
What are your competitive advantages?
Our representatives argue that no job is too big or small. In a field where consumer complaints can run rampant, our positive customer feedback speaks for itself. This is particularly important because approximately 70% of our business is derived from referrals or repeat customers. Despite our efforts in advertising campaigns, it is our customer service and resulting client satisfaction that has truly taken our small business to unexpected heights.
This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.