FROM A BEQUEATHED IDEA, MOSES MURIITHI RAISED AN EMPIRE

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The regality of engaging professional movers when relocating is no luxury, it’s a need

By Caroline Mwendwa

The strenuous task of relocating is always frowned upon. Whether it’s changing offices, residential places or just leaving a country for a defined period, the need to securely move personal belonging is a burden worth planning for.  Unlike in the past when moving was no big deal, and not much budget was needed, today, people prefer shifting the worry to professionals whose main  job is to facilitate the process of relocating. Moses Muriithi an entrepreneur in this business tells his tale in the ‘movers’ industry.

Having graduated from college in business management and accounting, Muriithi, got into this business with a professional background on how to run it. After several years of employment in the industry, he set his mind to start his own business.

“I started this company from scratch and since its inception, I have introduced several other services and expanded the customer base,” explains Muriithi.

Having started as a local brand, Mofra Movers today serves customers worldwide. It already boasts of a subsidiary in Uganda, and is planning to pitch camp in Dare salaam, Tanzania.

Milestones

Even though Muriithi went into this business with a single idea of operating moving services, overtime, the idea has morphed into a series of several other related services to complement it. He has diversified into: storage, house removals, transportation across borders, clearing and forwarding, parcel as well as cleaning services.

“To transport across borders we use agencies,” he says. Mofra Movers has also established partnerships with various movers companies located around the world to aid in connecting with customers beyond our borders. “We are a member of X2 Movers, a body of movers constituted by approximately 1000 members around the world. Our membership with X2 comes in handy when sourcing clients who are either moving from these countries to Kenya, or vice versa. We connect services to facilitate the client and then share the proceedings,” explains Muriithi.

Within the country, Muriithi states that there are various categories of clients. Some are individual clients while others are corporates. “When dealing with individual clients, we consider their calibre before giving a quotation,” he observes.  For proper coordination, employees are sent to the site to evaluate the property to be moved even before engaging in the actual business. Also, an interview with the client is conducted to ascertain the circumstances necessitating the relocation. If the reasons for moving are about upgrading the lifestyle, then the quotation will be higher and vice versa.

The standards of the client are also a determining factor while quoting. Since most of them  are usually diplomats, there is a price range for this kind of clientele which is normally  on the upper side as compared to an ordinary client.

The timing is another critical factor to consider when deciding on the amount to charge a client. “You realise that most people move during end-month and therefore, the dates between 25th and 5th are  our peak season,” he points out. As would be expected, prices during the peak season are usually higher than at off-peak. “If a service provider undercharges services during the peak season, then that means that they will never have a peak,” he avers. It is necessary to meet at least three quarters of the target during this period so that during off-peak, one can offer services at the available rates without financial strain.

What it takes to keep afloat

As Muriithi explains, moving services touches on the personal privacy territory, and therefore small mishaps can be a great undoing for any firm offering them. With this in mind, it is very crucial to ensure that the employees of the firm are well-suited to represent it in good light.

“This job requires loyal staff who are dignified and self-disciplinedand it is therefore the onus of the employer to work with people he orshe can trust,” he emphasizes. AtMofra Movers,  members  of  staff have  to undergo training before handling any client.

The employees aside, presentation, coordination and management are also critical to this business. Since most movers firms use similar material, to stand out, the presentation must be distinct. “To efficiently handle these tasks, a movers company has to have packaging material ready and the means of transport has to be of the right standard.” This will ensure privacy and protect the customer from public scrutiny through the stuff being moved. “It is our principle that before anything is brought outside for loading into the trucks, it must first be packed neatly and securely in the appropriate containers, whether boxes or crates.”

Secondly, coordination is an instrument to ensure customers are satisfied and the work is done in the best way possible. “Coordination makes it possible for sufficient number of staff to be assigned the task,” Muriithi observes. “If there is no coordination, there will either be too much work and few people to do it resulting to late night hustles and disillusioned clients, or there will be misuse of resources,” he adds.

As he further explains, management is the third key aspect in succeeding in this business. Management is important in recruiting the right employees and ensuring that there is adequate facilitation for the services on offer.

Mofra Movers has employed fifteen permanent members of staff and temporarily hires fifteen others as casual laborers whenever need arises.

Storage is another mainstay at Mofra Movers. Movers’ services are incomplete without the storage aspect. Some clients need to relocate from Kenya to another country, and probably are not willing to continue paying rent for houses they will not be living in. To fill this need, Mofra Movers has go-downs and warehouses along Mombasa road which serve as storage facilities. These warehouses are rented out to manufacturers who need storage spaces for goods before distribution. They are also for hire by importers whose goods arrive in the country before their owners are ready to pick.

Other clients in need of these services are those going for long leave, honeymoon or are travelling outside the country for various reasons.  “By hiring our services, they are assured that their belongings are secure since they are insured while at the warehouse,” he observes.

The rates charged on storage services depend on the amount of space occupied by the belonging, the value of the stored items and the duration of storage.

On parcel services, Mofra Movers has been on top of the game and this is evident in the profile of the organisations it has worked with. Other services they offer are truck hire and cleaning services.

 

Why go for professional movers?

As compared to the‘juakali’ ( informal) way of moving where one only engages a truck owner and randomly picked people to aid in hefting the loads, professional movers carry out their  tasks  meticulously, with the relevant tools such as boxes, pliers and other sealing items. Secondly, there is a sense of responsibility since each room is assigned to an individual so that incase anything goes wrong, there is someone to answer for it.

Further, of great significance is safety. The quotation is given with an insurance charge in it, so that in case any losses occur in the process of moving, the movers’ company is able to compensate the client. This is made easier by the agreement document both parties sign before the moving exercise.

Lastly, the convenience that comes with everything being done by the movers including packing, unpacking and arranging is always a relief to the customers as they are saved the tedious process. “We prefer a scenario whereby the customer leaves us to do the job and comes back once we are done to release us,” comments Muriithi.

Challenges

Often times, no matter how much effort is put in a service to satisfy the customers, challenges are bound to occur. Muriithi however asserts that this has not held them from developing more products and improving more on those they are already offering.

Secondly, the issue of mushrooming firms offering the same services at lower standards is a challenge they are facing. “You find these companies offering the same services at very low prices probably due to their inferior quality, and this creates cut throat competition,” he observes. Discussions with other players being adversely affected by this problem are underway and a solution should be found soon.

The road ahead

The first steps towards making Mofra Movers a group of companies dealing in a wide variety of services have already been undertaken. The plan is to convert the fast growing company into a group offering services that revolve around moving and storage all under one roof.

 

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