Bellhops ready to take on moving industry with new executive team

With a new executive leadership team in place, tech-based moving company Bellhops is transitioning from the startup phase to a growth stage—and leaders are ready to take on the "big-box" moving industry. 

Since January 2016, founders have made four C-suite hires. Co-founder Cameron Doody said they've assembled an "operation dream team." 

First, veteran businessman Scott Downes came on as the chief technology officer; Katie West, who helped launch and run Groupon Home, was the next big hire as chief operating officer. 

Next, the team brought on former ForeverCar LLC and SwervePay Chief Financial Officer Dan Piscatelli as CFO. 

Uber regional general manager Luke Marklin started last week as chief executive officer, rounding out the new leadership team.

"This all really started with hiring our CTO in January of 2016," Doody said. "At that time, we were squarely pegged in the startup phase ... mainly providing labor only and moving into the full-service phase."

In September, Bellhops started beta testing its own moving trucks in order to be in more direct competition with big name companies in the $18 billion moving industry. 

They now provide full services in 19 of the 23 cities they serve.

"We will be live with full service in all 23 in short order," Doody said. 

Here are four things to know about the changes. 

The latest hire, Luke Marklin
The Harvard Business School graduate was most recently responsible for ensuring Uber's success in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas markets.

"We wanted someone with pretty heavy operational experience," co-founder Stephen Vlahos said. "Technology brings this company together and is central to how the company scales, but at the end of the day, this is a heavy operational business."

Leaders were impressed with Marklin's work at Uber and that he'd been given the responsibility to manage operations in the Southeast, Vlahos also said. 

Marklin was based in Atlanta, so he knew a little bit about Chattanooga, and the more he and his wife learned, the more they fell in love with the area, he said. 

When he connected with Bellhops leaders and heard about what the business was doing, he was impressed with the vision and company culture, he said. 

"I think that Bellhops is on a path to be a really big company," he said. 

He's used the company for his own moves a couple of times and had positive experiences, he also said. 

The technology
The tech platform the company created makes the process of hiring movers easier. An automated system helps run operations. It coordinates scheduling, online orders and customer communication.

"The thing that differentiates us from traditional movers, first, is the ease of two-minute online booking," Doody said. "These are actual bookings, not requests for a call or quote ... Customers can go on and get an instant online estimate."

Customers also have the option to call a customer service representative if they prefer.

Marklin spoke about his recent experience using Bellhops. He said it was nice to get an email with information about the movers, including a photo and other identifying information.

It eases the potential stress of inviting someone new into a home to move valuables, he said. 

The disruption
The moving industry has been slow to adopt new technology and innovation, Doody said.

"We believe that traditional space is going to have a hard time competing if they don't take on a model like ours that uses technology to create efficiency," he said. 

Use of technology reduces overhead costs and improves the customer experience, he said. 

Marklin said he saw firsthand through working with Uber the ability for technology to make significant, positive changes in an industry. 

"[I've seen] the disruptive ability that technology and a fresh business model can have on an old, fragmented industry," he said. "All those similarities apply for the moving space. I think the technology and team [are] poised to disrupt and grow rapidly."

The brand
"We knew the No. 1 thing we had to get right in this industry was the workforce—our movers," Doody said. 

The tech-based moving company uses young, reliable, athletic college students to do moves in cities across the country. 

The customer experience needed to be on point. So they spent the first three and a half years performing and learning from about 100,000 moves. 

"[The movers] shoulder the brand and the customer experience at the end of the day," Doody said. "It was really important that we got that right." 

Disclaimer: Nooga.com's parent company is Lamp Post Group, which has a business relationship with Bellhops. Editorial decisions for this publication are made independently of Lamp Post and Bellhops.