John Machacek, Chief Innovation Officer for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, has worked with countless startups throughout our community over the past seven years. He knows their ups, their downs, but most of all, he knows the questions to ask them. Here are John Machacek’s 10 questions for Andy Solheim, CEO and Co-Founder of Relocator.
1. Tell us your Relocator elevator pitch?
Everyone knows that moving can be stressful, so we devised a web app to help. Relocator is a PropTech company that simplifies your move by using a combination of our SaaS platform and our Concierge Team. We partner with realtors and loan officers across the country and not only simplify our referral partner’s clients move while saving them money, but also free up their time by answering the questions they have that pertain to the moving process.
2. So, what are some examples of what Relocator helps simplify in the moving process?
Think of Relocator as “Expedia for moving” with a live concierge for the clients to assist them. Clients can get quotes, book services online or have the concierge do it for them while they are on the phone. They can book a moving truck or locksmith, transfer utilities, set up garbage service, forward their mail and even sign up their kids for a new school.
3. How do the end-users, who are moving, learn about Relocator? Is this through the referral partners you mentioned?
Correct, our referral partners enter their clients into our platform triggering a welcome email to be sent to their client on their behalf. The email is branded with the picture and logo of the referral partner and that helps increase the trust factor when we reach out to them. On average we know that a client is moving about 42 days prior to their move. This gives us ample time to help assist them and on track.
4. If I am the client receiving that email from the realtor, for example, what can I expect for my next steps?
Once you’ve accepted the Terms of Service Agreement, you will enter the Relocator platform and go through a seven-question onboarding process that confirms your moving date and asks you a few questions that assess your needs. For instance, “Are you planning on using a rental truck or hiring a full-service moving company?” We also generate a helpful email reminder campaign for items like updating your driver’s license, getting insurance and setting up your internet.
5. Where is the revenue stream for Relocator?
Our revenue model is based upon commissions earned from the business we book for our vendor partners. For instance, if we close a deal for an internet company, HVAC business, plumber, painter or garbage company we get a percentage of the revenue.
6. As you enter new metro markets, I am assuming the onboarding of vendor partners is a key early step. Have you figured out an efficient and effective way to do this?
Onboarding vendors is crucial to our business model and we have failed forward over the years as we figured out an effective system. We now have a vendor management team in place with the sole responsibility of new market buildouts. All of our spreadsheets are located in a live shared drive and each team member is responsible for specific market tabs housed on the master spreadsheet. The biggest thing we learned early on was not to set up vendors too far ahead of the influx of new clients or the vendors would need to be followed up with so our client was taken care of.
7. And with new markets and vendors, that must bring the need for continuous learning of your “concierge” staff members. How do you go about training new and current staff?
Great question, we use an online training platform that allows us to tailor our questions specific to the multiple industries and affiliate partners that we represent. Some affiliates have training links that allow us to build them in and we crafted our own training platform that pertains specifically to Relocator best practices. The telecommunications industry is the hardest to stay on top of as it has the most changes in regard to its offerings.
8. As a growing and evolving startup, what are some new things you are excited about?
We have a lot to be excited about right now! On the tech side, we recently deployed our online booking platform. On the referral partner side, we signed an Enterprise Software Agreement with United Real Estate that will help us expand into 26 states by the end of the year.
9. If you could go back in time to Andy from several years ago, what hindsight advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to quit being a wantrepreneur and take the leap. Although stressful at times, being an entrepreneur is highly rewarding.
10. What can we do as a community to help Relocator succeed?
I think the state of North Dakota has a great offering of programs for start-ups. For Relocator specifically, we are yet to find a local residential cable/ internet company to partner with in the North and South Dakota markets. If anyone could help with that it would be greatly appreciated!