Heather Argenti, the head marketing consultant for Moving Ahead Services, represents a company that not only succeeds but excels. Moving Ahead Services, a fully licensed and insured professional moving service, has been in the game for 12 years. When they started in 2005 they were completing about 50 moves per year, a number that has risen to thousands of moves on an annual basis. Moving Ahead Services has found success in using sites such as Yelp, so we caught up with Heather to hear their story.
Tell me a little bit about how Moving Ahead Services got started.
Jeff Collins, my brother-in-law, started Moving Ahead Services back in 2005. Upon returning from the military, Jeff decided to step right into the moving industry. I think part of that success is due to his military experience. Jeff has an incredible work ethic and is extremely tactical. With his background, I think he had really strong sense of foresight and substantial analytical skills. He also is a strong leader and treats his team well.
Well, what about you? Did you help out with the moves or have you moved a lot in your life?
I’ve never done the moves myself but I have heard some crazy stories. Our guys come across all sorts of things. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help Jeff out. My background is in marketing and I have moved a few times. I know just how stressful it can be. Our guys really do their best to make it an easy process. You can see that in our reviews on Yelp.
Let’s touch on that, then. Tell me a bit about the role the internet played in shaping Moving Ahead.
We started back in 2005, back when the internet was barely in its infancy. Ten years ago, it was all about eMove. What’s eMove? If Angie’s List and Yelp had a love child for the moving industry, it would be eMove. Since the beginning, we’ve been utilizing the internet in our business, so by the time the internet got big we had already been advertising online for several years. We were definitely ahead of the curve in that regard.
So, the internet has played a huge role in your growth since the beginning. How have you incorporated social media as that has evolved?
Moving Ahead really thrives off the concept of working smarter, not harder. When efficiently using social media, we’ve found that we have had much higher moving rates. While we’ve had a variety of experiences with Yelp, we are now utilizing it to the fullest, using it to drive us leads. We use Facebook primarily for branding efforts and awareness purposes. We are also on Google Adwords and Angie’s List. In terms of customer service, we focus a lot on online reviews as it helps us connect with our customers.
What role does Yelp play in your business?
There are two things I look for from my Yelp page: First, Yelp should be driving leads to the business. Second, it should provide us with a platform to respond to clients — quick responses get us business. Yelp is our prime source of unbiased reviews. With two offices that are three hours apart, you can really tell how big of a role Yelp plays in the livelihood of our business. While I know every business is different, our branch in Cleveland currently has 29 reviews while Columbus branch is sitting at 13. On average, the Cleveland office comes through with $225,000 more in leads and $125,000 more in closed numbers than our Columbus office!
Why do you think it is important to respond to reviews?
When it comes to the internet, you really can’t change your digital footprint and there’s no cleaning up after you’ve made a mess. In such a competitive industry, it all boils down to distinguishing yourself with your quality of customer service. This isn’t a new concept — it’s always been there, but now word gets out faster if you don’t meet industry standards and expectations. I personally respond to every review. Whether it’s a simple “thank you“ or a post that warrants a more thorough response, it provides us with the opportunity to let the customer know that their voice has been heard.
Do you have any tips for business owners regarding reviews?
Respond as quickly as possible! In our industry, speed of response is key on calls, emails, or Yelp. We’ll jump on it! If you find yourself too busy, schedule a day to check in on all of your sites and respond accordingly. It’s very important to set aside time for this. I think reviews are so important that Moving Ahead even has training days multiple times a year where we print reviews out and go through them for staff development purposes. We want to make it easy for customers to choose us!
What is your strategy when it comes to addressing critical reviews?
It varies on a case-by-case basis. I will typically reach out and get back to the reviewer as long as we have their contact information. Nine times out of 10 the customer will go back and update their review based on how we handled the situation.
Do you have a favorite review that you’d like to share with us?
It would easily be a review in which a user said that our service was “comparable to a Disney World experience.” I’ve been through about five moves myself and if you’ve ever been through a move, you know how hectic it can be. It’s essentially Tetris on steroids! The fact that someone said that we were able to put that experience on par with “the happiest place on earth” is a huge compliment!
Do you have any final words of advice to offer others in your industry?
Set the bar as high as you can, higher than your competitor. You have to go above and beyond for your customers!