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No. of Recommendations: 2
Well, there are good times, bad times, awful times, and then there's NOW.

I've been talking with friends in the industry, and the recession has absolutely decimated the moving business. I've talked to guys that have had companies for 30 years that are on the edge of bankruptcy. One friend who has 8 trucks has laid off all but 3 movers, and has his office staff out doing moves. He's trying to sell 4 of his trucks.

Yesterday I had a long talk with another friend who is what's known as an Owner/Operator. He has his own Semi, and works for a major van line. He told me that he hadn't had a load in 14 days. The company he works for has 120 trucks/operators, and had 18 moves last month.

As much as I hated to do it, I closed my doors in November. The fuel prices in the summer just about killed us, and then recession hit, so our revenue dried up completely. I've lost a ton of money, and am not sure if I'll be able to reopen.

In the meantime, I've gotten a job back in the software industry, and am coding like a wildman again.

The good news (for you) is that if you want to move, you can get rock bottom prices right now. Every company has been impacted by the economy, so don't be afraid to demand a low price.

I'll keep answering questions here when they come up, so don't be shy...

Zath
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No. of Recommendations: 1
I'm so sorry to hear about this...I've enjoyed your posts immensely and they've been informative and entertaining and I think you're a savvy business person. Would you want to reopen your business should the economy improve?
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m so sorry to hear about this...I've enjoyed your posts immensely and they've been informative and entertaining and I think you're a savvy business person.

I really appreciate your kind words. I sure don't feel to savvy right now. I feel pretty low right now - but that's life. Everyone has been very supportive, and I've learned a lot about business I couldn't have learned any other way, so that's something.

Anyway, I'll keep this board running - it's something I can do for my fellow Fools.

Would you want to reopen your business should the economy improve?

That's a difficult question. Running your own business has definite benefits. It's great to do things the way YOU want them done, and so on, but there are a lot of downsides as well -

1) Getting/keeping good employees is a nightmare. I've spoken with so many small biz owners, and this is universal. The average employee expects you to take care of them like family, but will walk away from you the instant it suits them. Out of 55 employees I had over the last 2 years, there are perhaps 4 that I'd consider to be worthwhile. It's very discouraging.

2) 95% of customers are wonderful, honest people. Then there are the other 5%. These folks will drive you out of your mind. In the moving biz, there are customers who write bad checks, lie about missing items they didn't have in the first place, and (here's my favorite) break or damage their own stuff in order to extort insurance money.

3) There are a number of people with hands in your pockets, and you just can't do anything about it. The government mandates that you carry enormous liability and other types of insurance, and there are only a few companies that carry the type of policies that work. And the better companies won't write you a policy unless you've been in the business 3 or more years. So, when you start out you pay through the nose for substandard coverage. And then there are the fuel bills, packing supplies, and the yellow pages. Personally, I think the Yellow Pages are the probably the largest waste of money on the planet.

I do enjoy the overall business, but it's a lot of headaches, and it's pretty hard to make money unless you have 4 or 5 trucks/crews running.

Alternately, you can do the part time gig - you advertise in craigslist, rent trucks when you need them, and carry no insurance. It's totally illegal, but a lot of people do it. If I had to do it over again, I'd probably have gone that way to start out.

The real issue for me though is the money. I've been working at a software company since the first of the month, and have already cleared more than I did in the entire time I had the moving company. It really stinks having to back to Dilbert land, but I had to put my family first.

Zath
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Aw, dude. That sucks. If it's any consolation, it's not just the moving and storage industry. I have a part-time business making and selling soap. My orders are down by a good 50%. Even with slashed prices, not too many people are going to pay $4 for a bar of soap when they can go to Target or (gulp) Wal-Mart and get a multi-pack of the industrial made stuff for a dollar or two more.

Uhura
Just catching up on the boards after taking care of family health stuff.
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Thanks Uhura -

I'm sorry to hear things aren't going well -

Would you perhaps need a 26 ft long truck to haul your soap around? I can arrange it :-)

Take care
Zath
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