Since 1999, Britt Lanier, and his mother, Susan Lanier, have helped South Floridians move into homes, and businesses as operators of a moving franchise.
Getting their start with a recognized brand, Two Men and a Truck, of Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton, has set them on a solid path of growth since, including in 2012 with back-to-back record sales in June and July.
They celebrated their recent success by adding more jobs and reinvesting in the business. They hired two new managers and employ 50 people.
They added two additional 26-foot moving vans, representing an investment of about $200,000 and growing their fleet to 20 trucks plus support vehicles.
Additionally, the Laniers have launched others in the industry, such as Bruce Willson, 34, and a newly minted Two Men and a Truck franchisee covering markets in Miami-Dade and southern Broward counties.
Willson says he is a fan of the brand because customer care is built into the template. In addition, Willson likes how his business has local impact as a job-creator.
Willson expanded to 8 trucks and 25 movers in 2012 and is planning to open a third office in Coral Gables in June with two more trucks. Willson will add another 10 to 15 positions from management to movers, he says.
But while the franchise template provides operational support, its still about being strategic in the areas of customer service, say the Laniers as they share their best practices.
To what do you attribute your recent growth?
We are seeing more interstate moves as people are relocating for jobs; we have noticed a large increase in our commercial business moves.
What bottom line strategies kept you on the road in the recent down economy?
Continual reinvestment in the business during the boom left us better prepared than most during the crash. That, more than anything, allowed us to not panic and gave us a bit of breathing room while our competitors struggled.
We had a handful of large commercial clients that experienced growth due to the recession as opposed to loss. Our long term relationships with them definitely helped and were mutually beneficial.
However, we did find ourselves with a larger quantity of rental clients than normal as people were being forced from their homes because, while they had been paying their rent, the owner had fallen into foreclosure.
What's ahead for 2013?
We re-designed our organizational chart and our entire business plan. We are working toward developing more long term relationships with both residential and commercial clients. Real estate is finally showing a sizable improvement and builders are building again.
Best business resource:
The support that is provided from the other Two Men and A Truck offices in the system is our best resource — we lean on each other.
Ckent@tribune.com 954-356-4662 Twitter @mindingyourbiz
Before you hire a mover
1) Check out the government run website protectyourmove.gov. The info on this site is very valuable.
2) View consumer reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau and Angie's list
3) Caution: make sure you are submitting an estimate request online on the actual moving company website and not a site that collects customer data to sell.
4) Never ever give a deposit. Giving a credit card in case of cancellation is perfectly OK, but If the company wants money up front, that's a red flag.
5) Drive by the company's physical location. If they do not have one do not hire them.
— Bruce Willson, Two Men and a Truck franchisee