How do you grow a moving business from two trucks to 60, create the top-ranked moving company in the New York metro area and do it all in less than a decade and before your 40th birthday? If you’re Ross Sapir, you do it with a focus on service for your clients, appreciation for your employees and an emphasis on style in everything you do.
After moving to New York City in 2001 with $1,800 from the sale of a motorcycle, Sapir began working for a moving company to make ends meet. Over the next few years, he worked virtually every position in the company, from mover to driver to dispatcher to salesman to, eventually, partner.
Understanding every job proved invaluable when Sapir started Roadway Moving in 2008. Because of his prior experience, Sapir knew what he didn’t want.
“I saw first-hand for seven years how negative the moving experience could be for customers,” he said. “The industry as a whole was fraught with dissatisfied clients plus a consistent unhappiness from employees and vendors, alike. I wanted to revolutionize the moving industry and make the moving experience genuinely pleasant — one of the best days of a person’s life.”
How did Sapir grow Roadway into one of the most respected movers in the country, and how can the lessons he learned along the way help you grow your real estate business?
1. Treat your team like family
Sapir has more than 150 employees, and he ensures that they know how important they are to Roadway’s success.
“I take great care of every employee — literally and figuratively. My goal is to attract and keep people by making them happy to work here,” Sapir said. “We have a competitive incentive program with great monetary rewards at the end of the year. We’re the only moving company that I’m aware of that offers a matching 401(k) plan to each and every employee.”
The takeaway: Find ways to show your appreciation for all of those who make your business work. Although they don’t have to be large, bonuses or gifts to show gratitude can go a long way toward making your employees feel valued and motivated.
Don’t have any employees yet? Let your receptionist, favorite photographer or other trusted pros know how much you value the work they do with a brunch invitation, flowers or other gift.
Even just remembering their coffee order and bringing it whenever you see them can make a big impression.
2. Give your space an upgrade
Part of Sapir’s commitment to his employees is reflected in the state-of-the-art facility he built in the Bronx as Roadway’s headquarters with an on-site gym, a trainer and beautiful surroundings.
“We’re a socially and environmentally conscious company; our headquarters are solar-powered, and we have corporate social initiatives, which our employees can get involved in.”
The headquarters has been featured in national media as a model of corporate design and even includes a repurposed shipping container that has been adapted into an employee lounge.
The takeaway: Although you may not be in a position to build a state-of-the-art office for your real estate business, you can still optimize your space to ensure a professional and organized workplace.
If your brokerage doesn’t offer desk space, you may find that renting an affordable co-working space offers you the opportunity to work more efficiently, meet with clients more conveniently and even network with other entrepreneurs through social events and professional development workshops.
3. Add value in every client interaction
Sapir said, “One of our tag lines that we use, ‘bubble wrap for the soul,’ may sound corny, but it’s genuinely important to me. My passion — which has purposefully trickled down to my employees — is to make the moving process the absolute best it can possibly be.”
He continued, “Studies show that moving is one of the most stressful life events. As the owner of a moving company, I make sure that the experience — from the moment a customer calls for an estimate to the closing of the last truck door after the move is complete — is not only smooth, but extremely positive.”
The takeaway: Think through every step of your client interaction.
- Is your website and social media optimized with easy-to-find information?
- How long does a potential client have to wait for a call back or email reply?
- How often do you communicate throughout the process?
Think through each step of the home sale or purchase process, and look for ways that you can enhance the client experience. And remember, just as Sapir said, this can be such a stressful process. What can you do to make it better? What can you do to make it great?
4. Never settle
“I’m all about progress, expansion and making forward-thinking moves,” Sapir said.
And he backs that up with results. He said he owns a company called CityBins that offers eco-friendly, rentable moving bins for those who want green solutions for traditional cardboard box usage.
Roadway also recently acquired two different companies. One is called RedBin, and it’s a storage on-demand service that picks up items, stores them in a climate controlled facility and brings them back when needed.
“The thing I’m most proud of is the recent acquisition of Veteran Movers. The rebranded company, now known as Veteran Movers Powered by Roadway, is 90 percent veteran-employed moving company, and my goal is to keep it that way and grow it exponentially.”
The takeaway: Keep thinking about ways to increase your footprint and your client base. Get a new certification or designation to create a new niche to market.
Juice your referral services to create passive income each month. Look for opportunities to cross-promote with affiliated services — like movers, contractors or lenders — to expand your reach and your client services. Or maybe it’s time to think about taking on an assistant or step up your marketing to create leverage for growth.
It was a pleasure to talk to Ross Sapir about his business philosophy. He’s a good reminder that treating people right — employees, colleagues and clients — pays dividends in your business bottom line and personal satisfaction.