The past year has seen a surge in demand for removal companies due to large numbers of people moving house. We spoke to Which? Trusted Trader removal companies to discover how they prepare for increased demand and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, despite being busier. They also offered some tips for consumers on how to make the whole potentially stressful process easier for both you and the company.
The increased demand for removals has partly been caused by the stamp duty holiday, the temporary suspension of the land tax you have to pay when you buy a house, flat, land or other property. This made buying a property cheaper than it would normally be.
Additionally, many people are trying to move before the end of the school holidays. This has meant the past few months have been particularly busy for removals companies.
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Stamp duty holiday drives demand for removals
Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced a stamp duty ‘holiday’ to try and drive economic growth by encouraging confidence in buying, selling and renovating property. As buying a house during this ‘holiday’ had cheaper costs, it increased demand for removals companies.
From 8th July 2020 to 30th June 2021, property purchasers did not have to pay any stamp duty on the first £500,000 of the property’s value. Prior to the holiday, if you had bought a property worth £500,000, you would have paid £15,000 in stamp duty.
The stamp duty holiday is now being phased out, as from 1st July 2021 to 30th September 2021, the first £250,000 of a property’s value is exempt from stamp duty. Whilst not as ideal as the previous period of exemption, this is still a very attractive time to purchase a property.
How Which? Trusted Traders prepare for busy periods
Which? Trusted Trader removal companies have decades of experience and know how to prepare for busy periods.
Britannia Robbins, a company based in Swansea, said that their busiest periods are seasonal. Around Easter, the summer holidays and just before Christmas are particularly hectic periods, and the amount of customers they can serve is dependent on available drivers.
They explained: ‘All we can do is wait for the work and provide on a first come first serve basis, then do as much as possible with the workforce we have. We are realistic with the amount we can take on. We have a fleet of vehicles but need to have the workforce to drive and move the furniture.’
Planning and preparation to meet higher demand is essential for Clockwork Removals, which has multiple branches across the country. They said: ‘We predicted there would be a huge surge in the housing market and prepared for this during lockdown. We made sure our fleet was in order and increased capacity within our removal crews.’
The company also secured more stock of packing materials, such as boxes, and recruited more porters, drivers and office staff across multiple branches.
Clockwork Removals were aware the stamp duty holiday would make a hectic time for them. They prepared for this by hiring extra vehicles for the fleet and recruiting more staff.
They said: ‘Our operations personnel are excellent and have been working hard for months now juggling the customer cancellations and delays which are part and parcel of our industry.’
Bournes Moves, based in East Sussex, have been in business for over 147 years and use this extensive experience to ensure they are as organised as possible. The company starts planning early each year. They do this by forecasting demand (looking at previous data, analysing market trends and other influencing factors) and evaluate what they will need to put in place.
This means during a busy period the company remains in full control and can maintain quality. Bournes highlighted the importance of recruitment.
They said: ‘We proactively start our recruitment campaigns in enough time to find the best new team members and give them time to properly complete their training and gain some experience working with Bournes before the busier periods hit us.’
If demand is exceedingly high, Bournes have approved suppliers for hiring additional vehicles when they need them, that are pre-vetted to maintain quality.
Customers can help make the removals process easier
As a customer, you can make the removals process faster. One way to do this is by getting as much notice as possible from your solicitors, to give the removals company enough time.
Britannia Robbins said: ‘It’s all very well getting a quote but until it’s confirmed the diary may get full.’
Alan Cook Removals, located in Norwich, advises customers to place a deposit with the removals company, so that if the solicitor requires a change of date, the customer will not lose their booking.
They said: ‘We encourage customers to keep communication high throughout the process, especially as they approach their exchange and completion.’
Alan Cook Removals tries to reduce the stress for the customer by being an approachable trader. They said: ‘We will always answer questions and have a smile on our faces to keep customers at ease.’
Clockwork removals’ advice? Also book in as early as possible, as removal companies across the country get very busy.
They said: ‘The last Friday of any calendar month is usually the busiest within the removals industry. If you can be flexible with your move dates this will not only help with availability, but might also guarantee you a better price.’
Bourne’s Moves says leaving it until the last minute may mean you have a restricted amount of options. ‘It can really restrict the quality of removal companies you have left available to you,’ they said.
Making the most of being a Which? Trusted Trader
A testimonial about the value of being a Which? Trusted Trader by Matthew Armstrong of Armstrong and Devon Move offers tips to traders on getting the most out of their endorsement.
To maximise the value of being an endorsed trader, Matthew suggested using the Which? Trusted Trader logo on all company paperwork, vans and uniforms. Using and talking about the endorsement on social media can help increase engagement and visibility.
Matthew explained that his company educates customers by detailing their code of conduct leaflets, explaining the standards they will meet as a Which? Trusted Trader.
He also recommended asking all customers to leave a review on Which? Trusted Traders, and to make sure there are review widget and links to the trader profile page visible on your website.
Matthew described the Which? Trusted Trader assessment process as: ‘Brilliant. It was thorough, in depth, and reflective.’ Many of Armstrong and Devon Move customers say they found the company’s contact details through Which? Trusted Traders, demonstrating the effectiveness of being endorsed.