Bellhops Seeks to Take the Pain Out of Moving

_MG_0105 (1)Taking the pain out of moving is a problem that Bellhops seeks to solve in the quickly evolving on-demand economy.

The Chattanooga, Tenn.-based startup launched into the Austin market a few years ago and now has more than 65 contractors, University of Texas at Austin students, who work part-time to move people around Austin.

Bellhops currently operates in more than 100 cities nationwide. Cameron Doody and Stephen Valhos launched the company in 2013. Its sweet spot is using an online platform and mobile apps to allow people to easily book a moving team. It also uses strong, young college students as its on-demand workforce. They can pick and choose from the jobs listed on the platform to adjust the work to their schedule.

Last November, Bellhops closed on a $6.5 million Series A round of funding, which has allowed the company to expand in its most productive markets.

imagesThe moving industry appears ripe for disruption. It’s composed mostly of small businesses with about 48 percent of the industry made up of companies with fewer than five employees, according to the American Moving & Storage Association.

And the market is large. An estimated 12 percent of the population moves every year, according to the association. College markets are particularly mobile with students moving in and out every semester.

The Bellhops job appeals to college students because it provides a lot of flexibility and real world job skills, said Zach Toth, Bellhops Austin city manager.

For example, a lot of the students use the ratings from their Bellhops jobs to get their first jobs in their chosen fields after graduation, Toth said. Bellhops provides a customer rating system that gives feedback to the movers. Those customer ratings can demonstrate a whole range of desirable skills to future employers including good customer service, problem solving skills and the ability to prioritize tasks, Toth said.

Bellhops also pays $15 an hour to a move-in Capitan and $13 an hour to a Wingman plus tips, Toth said.

Bellhop Chris Pringle, a UT student, needed a job with a lot of flexibility and good pay. He works about three to five jobs a week.

“I absolutely love the experience,” Pringle said. “ Coming into it, I had no idea that the moving industry is one that is old and outdated. All of my customers are excited to see young college guys come to help them out with such positive attitudes. It truly makes for an awesome experience on both sides of the transaction.”

Hector Hernandez, the top Bellhops mover in the country, truly loves the work. He works four times a week during the school year but in the summer, he worked as much as possible with up to five jobs a day, six days a week.

“I get the chance, each move to help someone on one of the hardest days of the year,” Hernandez said. “Since this is a very personal job, because I am handling people’s belongings, a certain type of trust comes with the job and I am able to make a lot of great connections.”

Robin James recently hired Bellhops to help with a move. She heard about them through the University of Texas Parents Association.

“I’m a total girly girl and I needed help unloading my son’s stuff in Austin at his new apartment,” James said.

James was impressed with the service. Her Bellhops were fast and friendly, she said. And she said she would use them again.

“Because it was so easy to make an appointment, they were reliable and able to accommodate us with no issues when we arrived earlier than expected,” she said.

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