Four years after starting my moving company, I couldn’t believe how successful and profitable we were. With little competition, we “booked” (closed) almost every job we bid on and made a lot of money.
Everything was wonderful until ‘Goliath’ showed up. At the end of our fourth year, a “giant” moving company that specialized in office moving opened a branch in Atlanta and nearly drove us out of business.
We couldn’t compete against their size, pricing, or reputation. We had three moving vans; they started with 10. We had 15 employees; they had more than 50 experienced movers. We owned 50 4-wheel dollies; they had over 500. Worst of all, our largest single move was only 16 truckloads—our new competitor moved Sears into their Chicago headquarters transporting hundreds of truckloads. Not only did they out perform us, but their rates were 10% lower than ours.
I tried everything humanly possible to survive. I advertised on the radio and in print media, I went door-to-door and handed out flyers, and I lowered our prices, but nothing worked. They say desperate people do desperate things—and I was desperate—so much so that one night I got down on my knees and prayed to God—a lot.
Call it a coincidence or what I believe was a miracle. For the first time ever, I started listening to my customers—REALLY listening to them. In the past, many of them used to complain about packing and unpacking the contents of their furniture before and after their move, and I, like my competition, ignored them and made them do their own packing. But as soon as I prayed, I listened to my customers and started thinking about the possibility of moving them without packing. I became obsessed with the “boxless move” and couldn’t get it out of my mind. Then I started having visions of inflating airbags inside of desk drawers and using an engine hoist with huge suction cups to lift heavy, fully loaded lateral file cabinets onto dollies for transport.
One year later, I rolled out my first two patented inventions—Space Gobblers and Spider Crane. With these devices we were the only moving company in the world that could move our customers’ contents in their furniture instead of moving their contents and their furniture.
In my next article I’ll tell you how I invented both devices. If you have a great idea and ever thought of inventing something, you’ll want to read how I did it.
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