We spoke with Hunter Armstrong, Blue Whale Moving Co.’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, to tell us how Blue Whale Moving Co. can bring peace of mind to your next move.
Q: Can you tell us a little about Blue Whale?
A: Blue Whale has been in business 24, going on 25, years. The company was founded in 1988 by my father, Brad Armstrong. He was a lawyer before starting Blue Whale and then he wanted to start a business. At the time, he was moving into the house I grew up in and hired this mover by the name of Blake Miller. My dad expected the stereotypical bad move to happen, that’s what he was bracing himself for. And this guy, Blake, just wowed his pants off and impressed my father so much that when the move was over he said “When you graduate college come find me, we might be able to start a business.”
And so he did, and they did. At that time you kind of could choose between the big-van lines or apartment movers and there wasn’t really anyone around for quality local moving so that was the plan and the idea from the very get-go.
We are an Austin-based business, born and raised here in Austin, as you would say. We do, however, service all of Texas and actually all of the contiguous 48 states if the client wants to move to or from Austin. We also have a storage facility here that we offer. Of course [Blue Whale does] packing as well.
We run a pretty tight team here in the office. There are 5 of us – Brad, myself (Hunter), my two sales guy, and then Jimmy, the operations manager – so we all work pretty interconnectedly to make sure that we’re all on the same page.
If I had to briefly summarize what Blue Whale is about, we’re all about peace of mind, quality, and delivering exceptional service so that our clients can have a moving experience that is NOT the norm.
Q: Where is Blue Whale located?
A: Our main office and storage facility are located in the same building. We’re on Springdale Road right near the intersection of 183 and 290 in northeast Austin. That’s where we do our storage, where the trucks are parked, where we operate out of, and where we’re driving from in the morning.
Q: How did you come to work with Good Life team?
A: My understanding is that Brad, the owner, and my father became pretty good friends with Krisstina Wise, who is The GoodLife Team owner, some time ago. He [my father] actually started [Blue Whale] and was mostly an invisible owner and chairman of the board for like 22 years of the business’ history. He recently decided that he was going to take the reins, step in, and try to really grow the business and make it something he could be incredibly proud of. When he did that he reached out to Mrs. Wise about an opportunity for a partnership.
Q: What top 5 tips do you have for homeowners when moving to new home?
A: Top 5 Tips:
1. Low Stress
The biggest tip that I have is to try and avoid doing closings and moving in the same day. It’s very much possible. We do it relatively frequently but it’s a very easy way to set yourself up for a really stressful day. Both moving and closing are both stressful enough without trying to throw the other one in there.
2. Peace of Mind
Take a box or two of your personal things that you would be nervous about if you couldn’t find them – i.e. birth certificates, social security cards, family heirlooms, things that you’re not going to want to wonder where they are – take those things and put them in the car with you. And I say that not because you should necessarily distrust your mover but just because those boxes are somehow always going to be the last box you unpack and so for the last maybe half of the time you spend unpacking you’re going to be wondering where they are and getting nervous about it. For peace of mind that’s a good thing to do.
3. Make Decisions and Plan Ahead
Try and have as specific of an idea of what you want done as possible. A lot of times there will be things that you think you will be getting rid of or giving away, kind of “maybe’s” in the plan. Those are certainly things that can be accommodated but at the same time they’re going to create wrinkles where issues can develop. So the earlier that those decisions can be made and the clearer of a picture you can have upfront, the better. Now of course the nature of moving is that you can never know exactly the plan until it’s happening, and we get that, but the more effort you put in to make that happen upfront the more smoothly the move is going to go.
4. Don’t Leave the Packing Till the Night Before
Always know that it’s going to more than you expect. One thing that will sneak up on people, particularly in the packing and the box count, are almost always more than you plan for and more than you expect to a pretty significant degree. It’s pretty easy for you to get yourself into a position where you have to pack 80 boxes the night before your move and if you haven’t slept the night before your move that’s going to make things difficult. The more packing you can get done in advance the better.
A good rule of thumb: say you have 5 days to pack and you think you’re going to have to pack 40 boxes, double that, and then assign yourself that many boxes to pack every night because if you can pack 20 boxes a night, that’s going to help a lot. Or of course, we’re always happy to come do the packing, so hiring the packing to be done is certainly another alternative to that. But the tip is, don’t leave the packing till the night before.
5. How to Pack
The best practices for packing is that you want to avoid and eliminate empty space. If you have a vase that you’re looking to pack into a box, you’re going to want to stuff a whole lot of packing paper in around it to keep it still. The empty spaces are where you get stuff broken. And then of course you want to pack responsibly – i.e. don’t pack books into an extra large box. The boxes should be movable by you when you’re done packing them.
Q: What is the reputation of the actual movers?
A: As I said early, here at Blue Whale we pride ourselves on quality and peace of mind and as such, we realized pretty early in the growth of our business that it’s very very important who you’re sending out on a job because not only are these the people who are going to be providing the work and executing the service, but these people are in our clients’ homes. They’re gaining intimate knowledge of where our clients live and how there home is set up. So it is sensitive, kind of even more sensitive than a lot of services.
So that being the case, all of our movers are direct employees of Blue Whale, which is very much not the industry norm. They’re all put through our hiring process, which includes drug testing, background checking to make sure that they’re trustworthy, and then they’re also trained by us to make sure they know what they’re doing. So, not only do they have the necessary tools, equipment, and skills to do the job but they also have the necessary motivation to make sure they’re providing the excellent service for which we’re known. We’re pretty selective about who we hire because we’re proud of our reputation and we don’t want just anybody wearing our shirts and driving our trucks.
Q: Blue Whale Pricing
A: We do our pricing at Blue Whale on a per item basis contrary to the more traditional hourly and by-the-weight estimates. What that allows us to do is give a much more specific and upfront move price that’s more predictable than just a guess at-time or weight. We find that it’s important to be able to provide a more predictable way to do the pricing and it seems to be fair because there’s no “oh sorry, we estimated four hours and it took eight.” That just can’t really happen. Unfortunately I can’t tell the specific pricing for any move I haven’t seen because that’s the way we do it.