Estimating Local Moves For Moving Companies

As we built MoveNinja, our main goal was to accomplish many of the things that our favorite apps achieve – Speed, Fun, Reliability and productivity. One of the key ways to improve productivity, was in addressing and supporting the estimation process.

We wanted the system to be advanced, yet simple. This often reads as marketing BS, but nevertheless, we were going to try. So we dusted off our favorite quote and got to work.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler

– Albert Einstein-ish(Disputed)

The first step was for us to to figure out a system that allowed for a consistent way to estimate local moves, but also account for the many complexities such as additional services, packing materials, locations with various levels of access (stairs, elevators, limited parking, etc). The goal became a system where a sensible set of global settings could be applied to all jobs but yet provide a simple way to override at the individual job level as required.

We came up with the following flow for estimating a local move:

  • Establish global settings for automatic estimates specific to your business
    • Settings for “work rate” per mover, per service type
    • Settings to determine fuel surcharges
    • Settings to capture standard hourly rate per mover, and per truck
  • Apply relevant data for each job (distance, job size in cubic ft and/or lbs)
  • Select Services and Override Global Settings as required

Lets go over each category in some more detail…

Establish Global Settings

The goal here is to provide the initial settings that the system will use for any subsequent calculations. There are typically 3 groups of these:

  • Work Rate Settings: This is perhaps the most important and unique aspect of our system. It lets a user enter the typical work rate of the various stages of a move job. This can be expressed as <xxx> per mover per cubic ft(or lbs) per hour. Users can then enter unique work rates for packing, loading, unloading & unpacking. As you can imagine some of these work rates would vary. For example, packing typically takes much longer than unloading, so a packing work rate could be 50 cubic ft per mover per hour while the unloading work rate could be 200 cubic ft per mover per hour (i.e. up to 4 times faster than packing)
  • Distance Related Settings: This allows movers that also charge for distance-related costs, like fuel charges, to enter values to determine minimum distances before charges apply. This category also includes a setting(average miles per hour) for determining total travel time based on the movers knowledge of typical travel speeds in their geographic area
  • Hourly Rates: The hourly dollar rate per mover and per truck (optional)

MoveNinja Local Estimate Settings

Local Estimate Settings

Apply Relevant Data for each Job

To get unique and accurate estimates for each job, specific information needs to be available for each job. This includes:

  • Job Distance: This would be the distance between the origin and destination address on a move. The system automatically calculates this but also allows manual overrides, as there are sometimes limitations in the ability to get accurate distances from providers like Google maps
  • Job Size(Volume or Weight): Job sizes can be defined in one of three ways -
    1. Picking a Move Size (i.e. studio, 1 bedroom, 4 bedroom) that has an associated volume or weight
    2. Creating an itemized list of customer items to be moved and letting the system use the total size of the selected items
    3. Manually entering a move size into the individual job

Select Services and Override Global Services

Once the global settings are in place, and a user visits any individual job order, and has provided the relevant data per previous step, the user simply needs to activate the “automatic estimates calculator, review the projected estimates that the system has projected. Once on this step, the user has three main options
  • Select Services: The main goal for the user here would typically be to select services that should be included in the estimates. For example, if packing services are to be expected on this job, the user would simply check packing services as an option to apply to impact of packing services on the job based on size
  • Override global settings: All jobs are unique and users will often need fine-grained control at each job, they can easily override the global estimate settings for each job. For example, if the job involves a long walk up several stairs at the origin location, a user can reduce the loading work rate from 100 cubic ft per mover per hour to 70 cubic ft per mover per hour to account for the increased amount of time
  • Apply Estimates to Job: Once all looks good in the projections, simply clicking on the apply button will add estimate items to the job that the system can then email the user
Job Estimates Calculator

Job Estimates Calculator

If all fails, simply add manual estimate items to the job

Sometimes, some jobs are so straightforward that the user can skip all the steps above and simply add manual estimate line items to the job!


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