CEO David Conroy – Conroy Removals talks about how he got started 43 years ago, the massive changes in the moving industry since, the importance of remaining agile in business, current trends in people migration, the importance of FIDI accreditation in the delivery business and how Conroy Removals have adapted to ever increasing customer expectations of responsiveness from instant quoting to moving people’s possessions across the globe.
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Ryan: This is the Ryan Marketing show and you’re listening to episode 23 of 100. Today, I’m joined by David Conroy from Conroy Removals in Onekawa Hawke’s Bay and we’re talking everything about transport logistics and moving people’s possessions from A to B. How are you today, David?
David: Good thank you, Ryan.
Ryan: Now starting with a really basic question which will flow into where we are going here, why do
people move? What causes someone to pick up the phone to Conroy’s and say hey I need to move this, or move myself from A to B?
David: Well generally people move a majority of them would move through their occupation requirements, and then you get a percentage of people who just want to try a new area within the country and then you’ve got a percentage who are either going to downsize or they just want to have a change in lifestyle.
Ryan: Okay, so there’s some life event that’s happened.
David: Yeah, they’ve had a, somebody’s like turned the switch on for some people and they think nows the time that we’ll just make a major change in our life and it might not be that they shift with internally in the country they might go to another country where they can get a visa to go and live, just a life change for people.
Ryan: So in terms of the Conroy Removals business, where do you move people to and from?
David: We pretty well move people anywhere within the world, traditionally though our business is more centered on within New Zealand, it’s centered in New Zealand moving and we have percentage of our work goes offshore but our Australian operation that’s more international. Probably 80 percent of it’s work is international throughout the world.
Ryan: And where are you seeing, in the last few years, where are some of the greatest migration paths at the moment that you’re helping people move around the world?
David: Well traditionally, it’s probably in the last 20 years it’s been New Zealand to Australia. It’s been a big exodus over there two years ago it slowed down to a point now where it’s really only a trickle and New Zealanders plus Australians are coming back to New Zealand because the land of opportunity at the moment.
Ryan: Right so I guess for your business that the adaptation comes from having to then switch around, how do you then adapt the operation to being all outflow to being inflow?
David: It hasn’t been too difficult except that we used to have people specialising more in what we call the export market. Those people now, some of them have had to revert over to the import market so it hasn’t been a major upheaval for us but we’re fortunate it’s what we lost there we gained on the other side of the road so it’s been a win-win.
Ryan: Do you tend to find that, how do you go about reaching people that are thinking of moving? Is it the same people that you moved over there years ago or is it a very different grouping of people that move?
David: A percentage of them are what we call repeat customers and then we market ourselves pretty well on the internet and we do get probably quite a percentage probably about 50- 60% of our work comes off the internet. So that’s still good percentage of repeat work.
Ryan: So if people are searching on the web you want to make sure you are being found pretty quickly?
David: Correct. Got to be on the front page to have a win, put it that way.
Ryan: And what are some of the considerations that you in the removals business that you’ve got to be winning on? So if someone calls up here requesting a quote, what are the things, either tangibles or intangibles that Conroys pride themselves on?
David: I think today people want, when people make contact they want a price now, they don’t want to wait for a day or two or three days later so most of our pricing we can do pretty well online when it’s a full size household removal we’ll send out people to inspect it, then we can give a price within a matter of hours. So people know where they stand, they don’t want to wait for a week, they don’t like waiting at all.
Ryan: I guess to get to that point a lot of significant decisions have been made so getting the actual, the shift in place is probably one of the more procedural things along the way.
David: Correct, yes. So unfortunately it’s one the the last things people do when they’re shifting is get the removal men contacted, we’re finding that more and more today. People will ring today wanting to shift in two days time to the other side of the world.
David: That’s what’s happening nowadays whereas once upon a time there would be weeks and weeks, between the point of them knowing and contacting the removal company.
Ryan: So has there been some shift that that’s almost expected? That that’s possible to do now?
David: I think everything today is just in time, people expect they can go and buy the T.V., they’ll get it today, the lounge sweet they pretty well get it today. Everything’s there at their finger tips so they expect the service providers to provide the same service at a drop of a hat.
Ryan: And what does that then, what’s the implications for you on that for, what is a global business to be able to shift containers or part containers of goods around the world? What challenges does that just in time model mean for your business?
David: Surprisingly we’ve adapted quite well to it, you do have to have a good volume of work, through-put to be able to have the infrastructure in place to be able to handle moves at short notice but no we’ve adapted fairly well to that to the requirements. We do have periods where we’re up against it but generally we can usually take most work at short notice.
Ryan: Then, kind of looking back from where you’ve got to today, how did Conroy Removals start? What was the first move or the first container, how did that come about?
David: In those days containers weren’t heard of, it was furniture trucks and then to get started I purchased a little truck doing removals around Napier, Hastings so that was our start. Forty-three odd years ago, but there’s been massive change in the way moves are preformed nowadays, as you mentioned before containers nowadays, 75% of moves around the world are done in containers. So they don’t go in furniture trucks anymore so there’s been a big change we were fortunate we were able to change as change has started to take in place and invested heavily into containerisation and it’s been pretty successful.
Ryan: I guess the benefit from that is once you’ve put the goods in a container on the truck, they’re there.
David: They stay there until delivery.
Ryan: Is there much that goes on around storage in between or its it really, mostly A to B?
David: Yeah storage is quite a big part of our business, it’s one part of our business that hasn’t grown greatly. We’ve had pretty good competition there by the Self Storage people over the years and they’ve been pretty successful, very successful in that matter but once upon a time everybody stored with the furniture removal company, nowadays, they don’t.
Ryan: It’s separated out.
David: Been a complete reversal of the way people look after their goods.
Ryan: And over that period of the forty-two years is containers kind of the biggest technological advance for shipping? What are some of the biggest milestones along that journey? Cause’ you’ve seen it right from the beginning.
David: I suppose containers were one of the big changes to take place, but the internet has completely revolutionised everything the way we do it.
Ryan: Internally? Or acquiring customers across the board?
David: Across the board, everything we do now it’s via the internet and once upon a time everything was done over the telephone and today our telephones probably ring a quarter amount of time that they used to ring. Now it’s all done by internet, people are becoming more and more okay with the internet, they’re not scared of it and we perform moves from the other side of the world. Back to New Zealand back to Australia, we’ve just done a couple recently out of the UK back to the States just on the internet now, people have become very trusting on there with the internet.
Ryan: Right I guess so that’s my next question is when someone’s not calling up or doesn’t know the Conroy name as such, how do you get to transfer that brand values in that internet arena, so when someone’s coming to the Conroy’s site or requesting a quote that, it’s going to give them that level of confidence and trust with all of their worldly goods, to you?
David: Truthfully I can’t answer that, we should be able to but we can’t but people will go on the internet, if they like a website, quite often they’ll just choose it and you can be a one man band and have the best website in the world and still attract people to it, and people will trust. People are so trusting today. In my eyes they’re over trusting.
Ryan: So do you think that’s probably slightly a negative thing?
David: Yeah, it is a slight negative because if some – we like to think we are a pretty reputable company but we do see situations out there in the world where people have been sold a service and they’ve paid for a service and the service never gets preformed but because the internet, the way it is, you can paint a pretty good picture and sell a good service but it never ever comes off.
Ryan: So for someone that is, or for coming up to needing to move how, what should they be looking for when they are going to do their searches for removal companies? What are the questions they should be asking?
David: I suppose one of the things is try and check out, if it’s humanly possible to do a little bit of research on the particular company and just see how long they’ve been in business, if possible to see who they work in with as far as the agents go, we work in with three or four pretty world wide companies so are pretty reputable which give us a lot of kudos as far as quality goes. So it’s essential that people do a little bit of research into the particular company that they may wish to choose to have the service provided.
Ryan: Okay so much than just looking for the best price look for someone who is going to deliver on what they’ve promised.
Ryan: And that the company is a legitimate company.
David: Correct, yep.
Ryan: Is it more important for someone to look for a removals form that is in the destination, or the source? Or is it more around having that full global footprint?
David: That’s a tricky one, it’s probably more of the destination, fifty fifty. Destination or the origin.
Ryan: Because at some point you’re going to have someone that’s not part of the company dealing with the goods right.
David: I think as long as you work in with a strong world wide group of operators which we do we operate with three world renowned companies, groups, they’re not actually companies they’re associations and to become a member of some of those associations, it’s very tricky and we’re scrutinised very seriously. One is a group out of the FIDI organisation out of Belgium, we get audited once every two years and the audit is very stringent, to the point where it’s a lot more complex that I’d say 2009. If any company belongs to the FIDI organisation is pretty sound and safe company to work with.
Ryan: Okay, so that gives it that quality mark.
David: Just gives it a step up, that a third party has been through and checked that company out and they’re pretty safe and sound.
Ryan: Then moving forward to the actual people who are going to turn up to your house or your business to pack and potentially wrap everything to make sure it’s going to come through the journey without any issues, what’s the quality or training that needs to go into making sure you’ve got this world class team looking after people’s goods?
David: We’ve got, especially belonging to the FIDI organisation, we’ve got certain standard levels to maintain from answering the phone to working the computer. It comes right through down to the finished product, the delivery, the filing of paper work or retention of paper work at the end. So that anybody can come in and check out paperwork from the beginning to the end and see there’s a trail of who’s packed it, qualifications, who’s deliver it, etc etc. So when we have our audits, that’s there for everyone to see now.
Ryan: That must be pretty important because the amount at a very granular level of individual possessions that you’re dealing with at any one time would be thousands, tens of thousands or more.
David: Computerisation has made that easy though, everything’s done on the computer. It’s just a case of making sure that everything’s retained to a level and it works and gives you efficiencies at the end of the day.
Ryan: And so when that move has happened for someone and they’ve gone through that process, how important is it then for.. do you get much referral traffic or loyalty from that person then recommending on?
David: it’s quite a big part of our business, referral work so it makes a lot easier to do business when you get referrals. People come to you so you tend not to be bidding on the open market as you would say.
Ryan: Yeah I guess cause thats got kind of two benefits, one is it’s much easier for someone who’s experienced the move already cause a moves not like choosing where to eat, it’s quite a one off situation. Interesting.
And in terms of moves through New Zealand over the last few years are you seeing, I guess you’ll know more the facts of, is everyone moving to Auckland out of the province or is it reversing? What are you seeing?
David: The move, there’s less people I feel moving to Auckland nowadays, they can’t afford to move to Auckland an the increase of population in Auckland is probably generated by just their own people and imports coming in. Probably three quarters of the people we shift into New Zealand, end up in Auckland and a lot of it’s work related so for the average Kiwi to shift out of anywhere else in New Zealand to go to and work in Auckland, if they’re married, they’ve got a family, it’s a pretty big decision to make now especially with housing the way it is. If anything we’ve seen a slow down of people moving to Auckland out of the provinces round New Zealand.
Ryan: It comes back to what you said initially is that the job moves everything else, if the job gets accepted then the person and the family can then shift to Auckland or wherever else.
David: Correct, yeah.
Ryan: In terms of what you’re seeing coming out of Australia back to New Zealand and what people move, what are the things that are most important to people when they move? Do we all live the same way or is it quite a wide expanse of variation of what people want shifted?
David: People are all different and their expectations are varied, some people shift out of Australia say back to New Zealand and they bring very little, because they don’t value their possessions greatly they may just bring personal effects. Then you’ve got other people where they’ll bring every single stick of furniture and every tool that they’ve had for their whole life. They’ll bring and even last week I was in Auckland, a particular couple they brought an old tractor in they brought an old forklift in, and it was, they’re different. So we’re meeting people, all sorts of people and they’re requirements are so different.
Ryan: I guess over the years you must’ve kind of seen it all, do we own more things now then we did ten, twenty, thirty years ago or do we own less? How has that changed?
David: We’ve gone, it’s interesting one, we’ve gone probably in the last twenty years, there has been an increase in what people own, and collect because once upon a time, probably going back forty odd years not everybody had a T.V. Most people had T.V. but they only had one T.V. and a little box T.V. Now they may have, four or five T.V.’s. Throughout the house and they buy them frequently so they’ve still got the old ones there, they’ve got a family room and a lounge so there’s two lounge sweets, two dining room sweets. So today, they do have more. Then you’ll get other people who only live in a little flat and furniture doesn’t interest them so they don’t and they only have what they need.
Ryan: And outside the moving side of things, a lot of trade happens around Trademe and moving from A to B are you involved in helping shipping individual items or particular specialist items for people?
David: In New Zealand we do, it’s a quite a big part of our business is shifting, we call everything one-off a Trademe item which is not really the case but –
Ryan: So internally it’s called as a Trademe item?
David: Yeah, we call everything Trademe, but it’s not really people just want a chest of drawers shifted and they’ll find you through some other source but there’s tendency to think that it’s all Trademe but it’s a big part of our business now. Shifting what we call single items to and fro around the country, and that side of the business has grown immensely.
Ryan: I can imagine, because as online buying and selling has a grown and kind of change the way retail is done that’s got to benefit anyone in freight and shipping.
David: Yeah, it’s been a big change and people won’t hesitate now and buying that chest of drawers or that fridge on T.V. from the other end of the country –
Ryan: Because they know they can get it shipped.
David: They know they can get it delivered in a matter of days.
Ryan: Does that then open up opportunities for you with the real high volume sellers of goods online, do you have preferred agreements with them or that more –
David: We do with a couple of bigger traders as such, the business has grown for us but there’s quite a few players out there on the market and the the couriers especially for smaller items have, they’ve benefitted probably more so than what we have.
Ryan: Now I noticed, I was listening to the radio the other day and someone was talking about, there’s a change coming to the ships coming in here and their ability to carry more containers from two and a half thousand containers up to nine and a half thousand. How does that change your business model for that international side things?
David: It probably won’t, it doesn’t really affect us at all it just means that a lot of provincial ports will have the smaller ships coming into the ports and they all ferry the containers into a major port for what they call the long haul.
Ryan: So it’s only for the larger ports, the smaller ports still are just feeders in.
David: There won’t be many ports will handle those big ships, in New Zealand there might be two or three and the rest of it, they’ll have feeder ships to the bigger ports.
Ryan: What are some of the other technologies you are seeing internationally with shipping and moving, that will have a good impact on the removal business on Conroy’s?
David: Really the bigger one has been the internet, the IT side of the business. As far as shipping goes unfortunately I don’t think we will see any great changes in the short term, the probably biggest we see at the biggest disadvantage is people now are starting to value their furniture a lot less and if they’re travelling long distance they may just sell it. Have a quick sale and replace it at then other end with all new product and they’ll only take personal effects. They’re putting less value on their bulky furniture.
Ryan: So instead of shifting the whole lot you’ve got a smaller package.
David: We’re seeing there’s still the same number, well there’s probably an increase of people moving, but they’re taking less volume.
Ryan: Does that change, open up flight as a shifting goods option? Or is that still too expensive?
David: No we ship a lot by air, but it’s really only the small lines, up to say a cubic metre and anything above that really goes by ship but a lot of corporate accounts that we have they will still use their airlines because it’s there in a matter of days and they can keep their, especially the corporates don’t mind paying so it keeps their staff happy.
Ryan: Yeah, because they’re not without their goods for one minute and that satisfaction is pretty important for their team.
David: That’s right.
Ryan: I noticed that Conroy’s ad on Facebook recently, is that, and it seems to be quite good it was like a targeted for around a particular even that happened recently. What success have you seen around Facebook and social media?
David: I’m possibly the wrong person to ask about that one but we’ve got two specialist in Auckland and we’ve got our own innovation manager who manage that side of the business, they’re coming up with, how would I say, harebrained schemes all of the time. To better market and you’ve probably heard some that I’ve never heard, and seen some that I’ve never seen. Everyday, there’s a new one out there, they are quite clever but I think it opens the door for us and many areas of customers, people just shop differently form the way they used to shop.
Ryan: I think that’s what stood out, was that it wasn’t an advertisement as such saying, buy from us or, we ship here, it was around current event that just happened. I think it was Brexit and you don’t have to have a vote to leave, in order to move to New Zealand, and I just thought that was really smart so when you say that your boys come up with new ideas..
David: The people, they’re pretty quick, when they came up with that one within 48 hours, and it was quite topical because we were inundated on the local media by Brexit and one of these chaps, and that’s the success of marketing out there today. If you can get in the front of people, people do take note.
Ryan: You’d triangulated that message between something that’s topical, in the news, something that people are potentially considering and then the triangulation with that with, well Conroy’s can help you with that.
David: That’s right, yeah.
Ryan: So what then happens internally, is there an approval process that you have to, or do you give that all them them and say look you know what Conroy’s is about, you know what the line is, how do you know when it’s over the line?
David: Well our innovation manager has been with us for a period of time and knows our requirements and there’s certain lines you won’t go below, and they go pretty close to the line at times but the – yeah, we’ve got to trust them that they’ll do it right and hopefully we don’t get too much negative feedback and it’s more positive. You can never really get ads that will please everybody.
Ryan: Exactly, and I think your approach of being agile in that marketing will mean there’s always something fresh and new there. So is that kind of the only area where your innovation manager is working for are there other channels that you see a lot of activity on?
David: Right throughout, he works right throughout our sales marketing, anything to do with the IT that will enhance the business out there in the corporate or the agent world. A lot of our work comes from agent to agent so we’ve got to to have our IT side right up the play so we can interface with anybody who’s got a good system throughout the world.
Ryan: Got it, so part of your marketing isn’t just to the in consumer, it’s providing a great interface or handle for visibility to a partner to show when things are moving.
David: A big part of our international business is built on partnerships with other companies throughout the world and we’ve got to be right up for play as far as our IT goes, to be able to marry into their systems and capitalise on what’s available at the time.
Ryan: Fantastic, so what’s next for Conroy’s? Over the next five, ten years where would you like to see the business head?
David: We’ve got to have growth, growth unfortunately if you don’t get growth you tend to go backwards so we’re always looking at opportunities, opportunities come our way quite frequently. It’s just analysing and capitalising on them, the only thing is today you can’t spend too much time thinking about opportunities because somebody will think too and grab it. there’s still opportunity out there for our company and specially in the Australian market, we’re only mid size players we could grow there considerably so plenty of opportunities out there for us we will be keeping our eyes and ears open.
Ryan: Excellent well I’ve certainly learnt a lot about Conroy’s and what goes on behind the scenes, and thank you very much for your time today David.
David: Yep, no trouble Ryan.