Dallas, Texas— We have all moved from one location to another, whether forcibly or by choice. Yet, with every move, comes some sort of horror story, making hassle-filled days and weeks, turn into a never-ending nightmare of credit card swipes and broken property. For Black Tie Moving, a Nashville-based relocation company, they have grown towards becoming the fastest growing moving company in America. The company recently joined the Forbes Inc. 500 list.
Grit Daily spoke with Dustin Black, founder and CEO of Nashville-based moving company, Black Tie Moving on the importance of understanding the moving companies you are letting into your home and/or business.
Black’s journey into the entrepreneurial space came after a long career in real estate and mortgage finance.
“Since I was four years old and old enough to carry a box, my father had me on moving trucks, moving furniture for his moving company,” said Black.
“I absolutely hated it, because at that time, it was a lot of hard work, and most kids at that age hated hard work. But, over the years, it’s how I was able to purchase my first car and have my weekend money. It was pretty good money for a high school kid.”
Once Black graduated from high school, he moved to Dallas, Texas with his mother, starting his career in property management at her apartment complex.
“I started leasing apartments at 18-years-old, and it was a pretty good gig,” he told us. “I was making $13/hour, while earning $25 for every lease I closed, as well as free housing.”
Having worked in property management for almost four years, Black took a position with Country Wide Home Loans as a home equity line of credit specialist. After moving his way up in the company, he eventually became a loan officer. However, come 2008, everything changed for Black.
“In 2008, when everyone was running from the business, I opened my first mortgage company. After two years, we were bought out by a company in Chicago that wanted to buy up real estate assets and companies in Texas, because it was the only market at the time holding steady.”
He then spent two years as president for a publicly traded mortgage company which was eventually sold.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” he stated. “Around that time, my wife and I had just built our first house and were having our first daughter. Having kids will always motivate you, but I was really bound and determined that my daughters grow up with more than I had—more opportunities and a better life.”
Enter Black Tie Moving.
What’s Your Horrific Relocation Story?
For Black, he had seen it all over the years—and that’s why he decided to do something that shockingly enough hadn’t been done before, until now.
“I was calling and shopping all the moving companies in town. I knew all the tips and tricks in the business, because I am what you would call an educated consumer. I picked the biggest and best companies in Dallas for a move my wife and I were in the process of. They came out and pulled up in two beat up trucks, with six guys. Five of which did not speak English, nor could they communicate with us. During the move, they damaged over $30,000 worth of our furniture. Ninety-days later, they sent us a $300 check. It put such a bad taste in my mouth from a consumer’s perspective.”
With Black’s great deal of technical skill, almost by default, because of the time spent with his dad’s moving company, he was already an expert from a technical skill perspective when it comes to moving someone from one place to the next, without breaking their property.
“I had been around customers moving every day, either from an apartment or giving them financing options on their new home,” he told us. “I would pay attention to the feedback, as we are no strangers to the nuisances of moving companies and the scam artists who are unlicensed and uninsured.”
Having access to real estate database from his time in the mortgage industry, Black wanted to put his feelers out into the market, already maintaining a network of over 18,000 real estate agents in his contact book. “The industry is very competitive, even with a solid network,” he told us.
Apparently, just like him, everyone is attempting to sell the same service—wanting to be the customer’s one mortgage person.
“So, what I did, was send out an email to my entire network of real estate agents in Dallas—yes, all 18,000, telling them I was doing a survey. I wanted to know whether they referred moving services to their clients. If so, who? And if not, why?”
Black told us that 93 percent of those surveyed, responded with “no, we do not.” He then took their feedback and turned it into a million-dollar business opportunity.
Black Tie Moving.
The Smoke and Mirrors of Moving Companies Today
Moving companies aren’t known for having great reputations. But why?
“Remember, every client has to move, and these agents are supposed to be their client’s expert advisors throughout the transaction,” Black emphasized. “Not just up and until they receive their paycheck but ensuring the entire relocation process goes smoothly.”
From a consumer’s perspective, Black believes the biggest issues circle around licensing and insurance, as well as the backgrounds of the movers entering a home or business.
“If I had to guess, approximately 35 percent of the moving companies out there today, are neither licensed nor insured. This includes those provided rental trucks and services. But they are hard to identify. You see all these scams in the headlines and big operations going under, because they tell a client one price, help them load their property, get to the new location, unload the property, and now the price had doubled all of a sudden.”
Show Me Your ID
But for Black, the biggest challenge he has seen with moving companies in this area is identifying who is licensed and who isn’t.
“Most consumers go on Yelp for reviews. The problem with Yelp and platforms like it, is that they don’t check for a business’ license and insurance. Instead, you as the consumer must go to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Transportation (TDOT), and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).”
Do You Know Who’s In Your Home?
Another major issue Black brought to our attention is the credentialing process that these companies don’t take.
“It’s hard to know who you’re inviting into your home,” he stated. “Most of these companies are all about cheap labor. The problem with this mindset is that they are sending felons into your home.”
Black told us that he recently purchased furniture from a restoration hardware store.
“The delivery company they used sent two deliverers into my home, who were pretty good and nice guys. So, I went to recruit them, because I wanted to give them an opportunity with a great company. They were excited, but one of them pulled me aside five minutes later and asked me how we dealt with individuals who had criminal backgrounds. I told him we don’t hire felons, but if it’s something minor and in the past, we try to look past that. I asked him what he was referring to specifically. He told me he had a conviction for armed robbery. This man was a convicted felon for armed robbery…in my home.”
Black told us that had he not owned his own company and attempted to recruit him, he would never have known this information.
“There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in this industry. That’s why we background check our guys and conduct random drug tests before we hire. It’s crazy to me thinking about who these companies send into consumer’s homes.”
On the flip-side, from the company’s perspective, establishing value on the team is no easy task. “The biggest challenge is finding great people who want to do this kind of work,” Black added.
“How we have overcome this is by creating a vision and path for our guys to grow within our organization—and to succeed. We offer our ‘Mover to Millionaire’ program, where we bring in a mover and help them grow and transition from mover assistant operations manager a operations manager a branch manager a operating partner. Think about it. No individual goes into the military just to stay in boot camp his or her whole life. We adopt that same mindset. These guys put in hard work, because they know there’s a bigger opportunity down the line for them. We treat it as a career, not just a job.”
Why Black Tie Moving Is The Game Changer for Relocation Services
But what sets this Dallas-based relocation company apart from the others?
Dallas comprises 90-95% of their business, helping customers with apartment moves as well as student moves.
“We are the exact same price, competitively speaking as all the other licensed and insured movers. If you see a much lower rate out there, they don’t have their licenses, insurance, and are probably hiring poorly.”
With over 25 franchise locations right now and almost 20 corporate locations by the end of this year, Black Tie Moving has become the fastest growing moving company in America, according to Inc. 500. The company quickly expanded, building its second location in Memphis, then its third out in Nashville a year later. Now, they have a strong presence out in Ohio in the Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati regions.
“In 2017, we made the Inc. 500 list for the first time at 391; last year we made it again, this time at 1191, and we will make it again this year, in our first three years of eligibility.”
Black told us that in their fifth year of operations, they brought in roughly $13 million, and are expected to do about $22 million just on the corporate side this year.
Their business model is predicated upon three pillars:
- Customer-First Mindset
Two months into creating the company back in 2016, Black knew he was onto something.
“We created this brand that really just shouts professionalism and provides high-level customer service. This isn’t your typical moving company.”
According to the CEO, when they start recruiting movers, they focus not on experience, but on the person themselves.
“It’s way easier to teach a great person to be an expert mover, but it’s a lot harder to teach an expert mover to become a great person. Therefore, we hire on character, integrity, professionalism, and communication skills. Then we teach them how to be an expert mover.”
Black Tie Moving also invests a lot more in its movers, paying them an average of $15 to $25 per hour, in comparison to most companies which pay approximately $10 per hour.
“If you take care of people, they will take care of you […] if the customer is satisfied, great. But, we aren’t happy with satisfied customers. We want to create raving fans on every single move. We want each and every move to be the best moving experience our customers has ever had.”
How Celebrity Partnerships Can Help Sway Customers To You
Growing alongside local celebrities is a strategy Black believes will continue to help Black Tie Moving reach their ultimate goal in becoming the largest and most respected moving company on the planet. Each celebrity, according to the CEO, is strategically chosen to maximize the impact in a local area.
“We became this helpful brand for celebrities, musicians, and athletes that were moving,” Black emphasized. “These individuals have invested a lot of money in their assets and furnishings. They want someone who will take care of it and someone who will be professional in their home, whom they can trust. Realistically, they can afford that with us.”
Rascal Flatts’ Gary LeVox Partners With Dustin
Black’s business partner and country music icon, Gary LeVox, have continue to spread word about why celebrity partnerships can really make a difference.
When Black moved to Nashville three years ago, he met LeVox, who lived down the street with him, helping him and his family with their move.
“It was a three-day move,” Black said. “We had a great experience and I was already a big Rascal Flatts fan. The experience really took me back as to how polite, caring, and such a great giving part Gary had. I learned a lot about him over those three days—especially how much he gives to charity, like Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and Tim Tebow Foundation. After that move, we became really good friends.”
A year later, LeVox asked Black if he was willing to open a new location in his hometown of Ohio.
“I thought it was a great idea,” he responded. “I thought it would be a good idea to put his face on the brand, especially from a consumer perspective. People already knew and loved him, and he is a hometown hero in Ohio. After that, our first year yielded $1.2M with a great 30 percent profit margin.”
We spoke with LeVox, the lead singer of Rascal Flatts, about why he joined Black Tie Moving. An Ohio native, LeVox has taken lead out in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, helping ensure customers are moving in the most comfortable way possible.
“I hate moving, first of all,” LeVox put forward. “I can’t stand it, and I don’t know too many celebrities that do. I was so blown away by the guys work. I didn’t feel like a bunch of inmates were packing and breaking my stuff.”
Grit Daily: What about the experience struck you as different than other companies you’ve worked with in the past?
Gary LeVox: For me, it was the 1-1 experience on what our needs were. There was literally a red carpet from my door to the truck, and the guys were so nice. And then to have the president of the company be there and thank us for our business and did a walk through. You really felt like your stuff was protected and the move was completely painless. I didn’t have to do anything. It was such an amazing experience for me, that I wanted to get involved with us.
GD: What did you envision with this company and how you could bring this to your audience?
GLV: Dustin and I were out playing gold and sitting out talking. One of my best friends from HS had been with a moving company out in Columbus for over 20 years. We were talking and I suggested we open one in Columbus, where most of my contacts are out there. I had the perfect guy to run it. We flew my buddy Chris down here, and they met, and it was a match made in heaven. Chris quit his job, and we plugged him right there in Columbus and he’s been knocking it out of the park ever since.
GD: What do you look for when looking to invest in and/or partner with a particular company?
GLV: First, I look at the people I’m going into business with. That’s first and foremost. Hopefully their heart is bigger than the job they are doing. It’s really about paying it forward and blessing somebody else. I want someone who has good work ethic, professionalism, and a vision. I want someone who is willing to get into something different. It was different for me here, because I already had the first-hand experience with my move.