Home sales, pandemic put pressure on movers

During summer, Two Men and a Truck had at least 25 openings locally as unemployment benefits drain candidate pool.
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Two Men and a Truck had 25-30 open positions to fill during the busy summer months. Courtesy Two Men and a Truck

With summer being the busiest moving months of the year across Grand Rapids, the local locations of Two Men and a Truck’s 340-plus offices looked to fill 25-30 open positions for movers and drivers offering customer service bonuses.

But, with the regular unemployment benefits and additional pay being extended for unemployed workers, the brand is having a hard time finding people who want to work.

Kyle Norcutt, owner of three of the four Two Men and a Truck franchises in West Michigan, said he’s always struggled to find good employees during the summer, but COVID-19 presented additional problems during the season when most people are moving.

Two Men and a Truck always runs employment ads in the summer, but Norcutt said lead flow is down 30% over last year, and the people who pass background checks and drug tests are down 50% over last year.

“It’s been a bit harder to find people we can put on our trucks,” Norcutt said. “We’ve been fortunate that we retained a lot of the people we had coming out of our slow season, but it was harder to ramp up in our busy season.”

Norcutt said movers are facing a pent-up demand because of the effect the state’s COVID-19 shutdown has put on other industries. After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted the shelter-in-place order, realtors were forbidden from doing in-person showings, and new home construction was frozen, leading to a slowdown in moving during April and May.

In an earlier news story, Greenridge Realty President Adam Paarlberg told the Business Journal the May home sales were the result of a surge in listings caused by a pent-up supply from the stay-at-home order, along with a surge in sales caused by a quickening pace in buyers.

Paarlberg referenced an article from Forbes showing pending home sales rose 44% in May after falling 22% in April and said West Michigan numbers are close to the national average.

The freeze on construction and real estate, coupled with a record high for housing sales, means Two Men and a Truck is understaffed to meet the demand for moving. Norcutt’s three franchises employ about 50 drivers, and there are 30 open positions, including movers, drivers and customer service representatives.

Additionally, the brand increased its pay and benefits over the summer season to compete with increased unemployment benefits, which Norcutt said may be the reason a lot of good candidates are on the fence about going back to work.

“With that bonus $600, we have to fight that number because it’s close to what we pay our employees, as well,” Norcutt said.

The brand is running ads for movers and drivers paying about $13 to $18 per hour based on experience, as well as benefits packages including health insurance, 401(k) plans and different incentives throughout the month based on customer service scores.

“Ramping up benefits is something we’re working at almost monthly,” Norcutt said.

Those interested in working for Two Men and a Truck can begin applying at careers.twomenandatruck.com.

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