The coronavirus pandemic has touched nearly every aspect of our lives in one way or another. Industries around the world have had to change the way they do business or face risking the health of their clients and staff, or face shutting doors forever. The moving industry may not be failing, since people will always have to move, but operators and ancillary businesses will need to change things to reflect the current reality. Here’s how the coronavirus is changing the moving industry.
Safety needs to be a top priority for any company associated with the moving industry. For instance, the moving companies themselves must upgrade their safety protocols to include infection prevention. This will be important even after the major threat of the virus has passed. People will still be fearful, possibly for many years, of catching something dangerous from the people and places around them. Moving companies should have strict protocols for sanitizing equipment and client property. They should also provide each crew with masks and gloves that must be worn at all times while working. Crews should be washing and sanitizing their hands whenever possible or on a set schedule. Handshakes and signed paperwork may need to be abolished as well. If an employee is feeling sick, then they should be encouraged to stay home to protect the other staff members and the clients.
In the past, many moving companies had strict cancellation policies to prevent clients from changing their minds or switching service providers at the last minute. With the threat of illness looming over everyone’s heads, these policies may need to be abandoned for a more flexible approach. This is not just to make sure that companies get paid, but also for safety. If a client comes down with coronavirus but is worried about a cancellation fee or other costs, then they may still go ahead on their scheduled moving date. This puts the moving crew at risk and could spread the virus further. There still needs to be a way for moving companies to secure their clients, but perhaps being more flexible will alleviate the fears of moving crews and clients, and prevent it from looking like it is exploiting people during the pandemic.
There is a lot of information coming out every day about Covid-19, whether it be infection stats, new regulations, new recommendations, and public announcements. It’s important for the moving industry to be very proactive with their clients and the public about all aspects of moving that are affected by the pandemic. This means letting clients know how crews are handling safety protocols. It also means providing them with all of the information they need regarding the rules and safety regulations in the jurisdiction where the client currently lives and the one where they are going. Advice and guidance on moving safely should be given to every client right at the beginning of the process so they know what they must do to protect themselves. The more information that is shared and disseminated, the better. There is a lot of confusion out there, and the moving industry should be on top of it all to provide the best possible information and service to its clients.
There is currently so much risk and fear around close in-person interactions, that the moving industry must take advantage of technology to work with their clients. Gone are the days of a handshake and a signed bill of lading, or of walkthroughs before the move. Now, moving companies must provide virtual walkthrough options so that they can get the information they need before getting on-site for the move. To prevent too many people at the site on moving day, crew chiefs may need to stay at home or the office and communicate with the crew through video conference technology if need be. Bills of lading can be signed electronically by the client, or they can be simply emailed when the job is complete. There will no doubt be future innovations in the coming months and years that will make avoiding contact even easier.
Moving companies may need to be more flexible with their staffing and possibly have more people on staff to account for shortfalls. If someone falls ill at the last minute, then they will need a replacement quickly. That is normal, but during a pandemic there is even a risk that several people get sick all at once. To make sure to complete jobs safely, they may need back up plans to fill in quickly. Moving companies have to be nimble with their staffing to make sure that gaps can be filled without a disruption to service or to the client’s move.
The moving industry is just like any other sector when it comes to the coronavirus. It will be affected, and it must change to adapt to the new reality the entire world is facing.