Making all the Right Moves

Premiere Van Lines

Since 2005, Ms. Flynn has been immersing herself in the business, getting to know it inside and out, and says that a moving company involves far more than loading and unloading a truck. “We consider ourselves to be in the hospitality industry. It’s all about identifying yourself when you walk inside the client’s door to ensure this person understands who you are, that you are credible, that they can contact you afterwards and that you will be giving a white glove service.”

Premiere Van Lines is an agent-owned company, says Kirsten. “Every shareholder with Premiere has a stake in this company, being either an owner-operator or executive member of the corporation. Our services include calming down the customer if the move is stressful for them, ensuring the safety of the customer’s belongings during relocation and any helpful tips we can provide to make everything easier for them.” Being able to provide a service like that is vital; as she says, “Household moving has been proven to be the second highest most stressful thing to have to deal with next to the death of a loved one.”

Premiere Van Lines likes to show its customers how to pack safely and efficiently. The ‘Art of Moving’ campaign explores this by demonstrating the proper technique and materials and by showcasing the most organized manner in which to pack a truck. It’s much like putting together the pieces of a three dimensional puzzle.

For those not interested in doing their own packing, Premiere can do it all. The comprehensive door to door service costs a bit more, but the company’s trained teams can eliminate all stress. Kirsten explains, “Our teams know how to move large items in and out of compromised locations and not hit any walls or do any damage during the extrication process. Our crew has the spatial talents necessary to foresee any obstacles and work around them efficiently.”

The company has plans for growth that include inviting independent moving companies to join the Premiere team. “Premiere Van Lines is doing some serious expansion in structuring this year,” Kirsten explains. “We have some targeted areas and realize the shift in the economy today makes it difficult to be an independent mover who is not part of a structured van line.” Many independent movers don’t have access to the resources available from a larger company like Premiere which not only owns all its own trucks, but operates its own storage facilities. Kirsten says, “It’s a call for new branches; right now we are such a strong entity and we welcome those independents out there wishing to expand as well to come on board.

“We are also an agent for Atlas Van Lines Canada,” Kirsten explains, “which allows us to service customers in the areas where we currently do not have Premiere Van Line representation.

“Our wisdom,” she says, “is born of the years our owner / operators and agents have been in business. There are very few who have had careers outside of the moving industry; it’s all we know.” She admits that, even with the breadth of employee experience, not every move is predictable. “And just when we think we’ve seen it all, along comes a move that takes you by surprise. We always manage through and have never looked at a move with a ‘routine’ mentality. Every customer is different, defined by their personalities and possessions.”

Though when most people think of moving companies they think of residential moves, Premiere also provides commercial moving, freight and delivery. “Commercial and office moving is massive in Canada. Ontario isn’t the only province with Corporate Head Offices; Alberta, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and British Columbia are large centres that are expanding and Premiere is here to service Corporate Relocations.”

Some moves, of course, are more complex, such as those crossing international borders. “International household moves have to be packaged a certain way using a container system, all involved with customs and heavy paperwork as well.” Certain times of year are far busier for the company as well. “Most North American moves take place from May to September, as kids are out of school or families are vacationing and there is less inclement weather. Moves of course will cost more during this peak season as well but it is the most optimal time to move.”

Kirsten says, “Our reward in this whole process can be defined as being this company of superheroes, saving the day for a distressed customer. It can also come in the form of rebates to our agents based on revenue performance and dividends paid to our shareholders.”

She shares that, “I am also very proud to be a regional qualifier for Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies last year with my very first application and of course I aspire to be chosen this year as well.” Kirsten adds that her real reward is watching the company gain brand recognition through the top level service that it provides to its customers.

Of course, not all moving companies operate to the high standards of Premiere Van Lines, and the subject of rogue movers is one that infuriates Kirsten and is something she’d like to see changed. Dishonest or unprincipled movers solicit their services to unsuspecting, vulnerable and trusting people with the intent of getting paid unjustly for poor and minimal service. A rogue mover might do such things as lock up the customers’ valuables and refuse to give them their belongings until sometimes twice the amount of money is paid.

Some movers also misrepresent their insurance level which can lead to a nasty shock should something go awry with the move. “Guys can show up in an unmarked vehicle and claim that they are insured so the customer thinks that sounds safe and they might go with them not realizing they are only insured for their truck and not the contents or service… We of course want your business but if you are not going to book with Premiere, it is my responsibility to ensure that you are aware of the bad guys and know how to protect yourself,” says Kirsten.

“The scariest thing about this is that once you get to your new home, not only does this ‘bad mover’ have all your possessions locked up, they know what you own and where you live. You can call the police, but if they ask them to unlock the truck and if this rogue mover refuses, the police will say that it is a domestic dispute and no charges can be laid as our laws are not in place for this. It is quite heartbreaking!” Not only do these movers cost homeowners, they negatively affect perception of the industry as a whole, costing ethical movers business.

Kirsten explains that a moving company does have the right to withhold possessions if a cash-on-delivery customer cannot pay, however at Premiere, “Someone will be on the phone immediately with the dispatcher or will try to get the sales representative on the phone to figure out what is going on with this move.”

Kirsten and Premiere Van Lines were recently featured on the reality show, ‘Undercover Boss Canada’ which gave her a chance to illustrate what a moving company should be. Kirsten says, “Kudos to the producers of the show as I did not know where I was going or who I was going to be with until that morning. I really got to see and feel the true heart of this company. I would always brag about how great our crews and employees were but I was able to get that experience and really relate during and after the whole ‘Undercover Boss Canada’ enterprise.”

The company has since received emails from viewers and even from a rival moving company who congratulated Premiere for demonstrating the business and for getting the message through as to what constitutes a good mover. “This was welcomed praise as it was from a direct competitor.”

Kirsten maintains that it is the intangible things that make the company so different from the competition. The company takes pride in developing connections even though it has over a thousand employees spread from coast to coast across twenty-two markets. “Coupled with our quarterly newsletters to keep all of our employees in touch with what is happening across the company and our Premiere Pride Awards, our closeness as a company is what gives us the strong edge over our competition.

“Any good and reputable company needs to ensure that the customer understands the ins and outs of their move,” Kirsten summarizes. Making sure that this happens makes for a less stressful move and a more satisfied customer. “So we have the ‘Art of Caring’ Campaign. This is who we are at Premiere Van Lines.”

August 21, 2017, 8:04 AM EDT

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The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) is a National Union representing over 500 000 members – over 110 000 in Canada with an International Office in Hamilton, Ontario. It has Local Unions across the country and is the most common union of construction, healthcare, waste management, and show service workers in this country. In fact, LiUNA, established in 1903, is Canada’s largest Building Trades Union.