Reliable Growth In UAE Relocation
Chirantan Joshi, co-founder of E-Movers Group, discusses the ongoing strength of the removals business and how he faces the challenges of meeting customer expectations.
You’ve been helping people move and relocate in and out of the U.A.E. for 15 years—what market fluctuations have you experienced in that time? Is your business affected by economic downturns or growth?Any market will have its cycles and our market has also seen different cycles in the last 15 years since we began. When we started in 2003 the market was moving upwards and it has definitely benefited us too. When the wind is blowing in the right direction there is lesser resistance to move forward and you can actually accelerate the movement. This is happened to us as well and we grew rapidly in the first five years. The global economic downturn in 2008/9 did not affect us. Our industry grows in both situations. At boom-time people move into bigger homes and in a downturn people either downsize to a smaller place or take advantage of lower prices to scale up to a larger place. This behavior helps the moving business. Actually, our challenges were more internal than external, as we had to cope with growth and managing customer expectations.
What are the biggest challenges you face, both in managing the business and in moving people? What’s the most unusual request or difficult job you’ve faced?Our industry has a low entry barrier, so starting a new moving business is not as hard. Any enterprising team member can easily start his own business and lure away our client by offering lower prices. This eats into our profitability and erodes our established customer base. This is a challenge that we have to continuously ward off. Another challenge is retaining good people for longer periods, and as a business owner you have to come up with creative solutions to keep them on your roster. Managing customer expectations is another challenge when it comes to international relocations. Customers expect the same level of service as we offer for local moves, but are unwilling to pay for the higher cost of labor in western countries. Local moves incur lower manpower costs and we can offer some services for free, but the same cannot be offered at the destination because of the higher cost. This challenge continues to dog us. To date one of our most difficult requests was the relocation of an entire parking lot, with a capacity for 20 cars. We actually did it with the help of a construction company.
What are your customers’ biggest concerns and how do you ensure that you exceed their expectations?Our customers biggest concern is the safety of their furniture and artefacts. They attach a much higher emotional value to their assets than the financial costs, so our top-most priority is safe and secured movement. We keep a detailed log of any and all damages, carrying out a detailed analysis of the root cause and taking corrective as well as preventive action to deter recurrence. We have, over the years, innovated packing containers, loading methods and transportation options to improve our performance on this factor. Most important in any service business is setting the right expectations of the client so that we always deliver on them.
How many users do you now have registered on your app?How has technology evolved your business?Technology is the backbone of our efficiency and we have been constantly upgrading our software systems to automate every little aspect of our business. Our Emove app has over 1,200 downloads and we register a large number of leads on our web portal. Technology plays a major role in lead generation and pipeline tracking. We have also automated our surveys and jobs using mobile apps. With multiple offices in two countries, our technology gives us the edge over others. We are using technology to fill in the process gaps and bring consistency in our customer experience.
Do you have any further plans to expand in the next year?We are still in our growth phase and expanding every year. From a one-person team in 2003 we have grown to over 450 people in 2018. We currently operate in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Qatar and we are planning to set up operations in a few more markets in the near future.