An Interview with Brian Schuckalo, Chief New Business Ventures Officer for The Long & Foster Companies
Whether the move is across town or around the world, making the transition from one home to another is among the top five most stressful experiences in most people’s lives. The Long & Foster Companies’ goal is to ease that stress in every possible way from the moment a homeowner thinks about moving through settlement day and beyond. A new member of the Long & Foster family, Tailored Move provides high-quality moving services.
Whether they are downsizing from a luxury estate to a city penthouse or relocating from one community to another, home buyers and sellers have high expectations for moving companies. Providing trustworthy, transparent, stellar customer service is the differentiator for every individual and company within Long & Foster.
We sat down to talk with Brian Schuckalo, Chief New Business Ventures Officer at Long & Foster and head of Tailored Move, to discuss Tailored Move and its service-oriented mission.
Why did Long & Foster decide to expand its connected businesses with a moving company?
Schuckalo: Long & Foster’s all-inclusive model offers a tremendous benefit to our customers and agents. Jeff Detwiler, Long & Foster’s president and CEO, and the rest of the Long & Foster leadership had the vision to recognize the quality customer service they could provide with their integrated brokerage, mortgage, title and insurance businesses. A moving company expands the opportunity for a smooth transaction.
What impact does being part of Long & Foster have on Tailored Move and its customers?
Schuckalo: When we built Tailored Move, we already had the framework of trust, family and excellence that is the underpinning of every Long & Foster company. The other businesses were trailblazers in their level of outstanding personalized customer service, so our mission when we started Tailored Move two years ago was to provide that same quality. Our agents know they can rely on Tailored Move to support their customers. For the customers who come from outside the Long & Foster family, we can introduce them to the excellence they can expect from any one of our businesses.
Unlike most moving companies, who rarely see the same customer twice, we’re building relationships with referrals from Long & Foster agents. Those relationships breed accountability.
We’ve had some unexpected benefits of these integrated businesses, too. For instance, a creative Long & Foster agent asked us to provide a move estimate on a house her buyers hoped to buy. The buyers included an offer to pay for the sellers’ move as part of their winning bid in a highly competitive market.
What makes Tailored Move stand out from the competition, especially for luxury home movers?
Schuckalo: We pride ourselves in treating every customer the way we want to be treated ourselves. Handing your keys and your belongings to someone requires putting a great deal of trust in them. As a new company, we’ve worked hard to build a great team of experienced colleagues who support our customers. Every customer has a single point of contact who will coordinate every part of the move.
Last spring, for example, we helped a customer who was downsizing from 4,500 square feet to 2,400 square feet. We worked with the agent and the customer to move some pieces into storage, some to California to her son’s home, some to South Carolina to her daughter’s home and then the rest into her new home. We provided a quality experience by coordinating those complications and relieving the customer of as much stress as possible. That’s something we do for every customer, by the way, not just our luxury clients.
What special services does Tailored Move provide to customers?
Schuckalo: We start with a transparent flat rate estimate so everyone knows upfront how much their move will cost, instead of quoting an hourly rate with a possibly vague idea of how long the move will take. If a customer prefers an hourly rate, we can do that, but most like the flat rate. We also provide $20,000 upfront in insurance for the move. Our moving trucks are new and clean, and we carefully train our moving team to protect every belonging.
For example, instead of speeding up the move by wrapping items on the truck, we wrap and protect everything inside the home first, so it doesn’t get dirty or damaged on the way to the truck. Our movers have the expertise to pack, move and protect special things.
We worked with one family who had recently moved to Dubai and needed to transfer their belongings, including numerous valuable items, from a luxury home in McLean, Virginia. Their real estate agent worked with our move coordinator so that everything was carefully packed and crated to be sent by boat to Dubai, where it waited in storage until it could be processed through customs.
Coordinating moving dates can be complicated. How does Tailored Move help alleviate those situations?
Schuckalo: We know we can’t entirely take away moving stress, but we focus on communicating and removing as many stress points as we can. We assign a coordinator for every move and proactively keep the customer and their agent in the loop to set expectations and manage the process. We also offer cleaning and decluttering services, and we have our own warehouse for storage.
Coordinating a move with a real estate agent can make it easier to reschedule a move if necessary. We had a big move scheduled for a Monday and the buyer’s agent called us late on Friday about a closing delay. We were able to store everything and delay the move for five days. Most of the communication was between the agent and our move coordinator, which made it easier on the buyers.
Any advice for luxury home buyers or sellers?
Schuckalo: When you recognize the sentimental and financial value of the things you own, you should realize that you don’t want to skimp to take care of those things. Listen to your real estate agent or someone you trust when they recommend a mover. You should expect and receive good customer service from the very first contact with a moving company, which is what we provide to every client for every move.