We all know the feat of human effort needed to move home or pack it all away for storage. With this feat come the emotions attached. There’ll undoubtedly be sentimental and/or expensive belongings involved, and the worry of their safekeeping and safe arrival is profound. It’s even been said that moving home is the third most traumatic thing after death and divorce. AUSPODS seeks to take a load off these tensions with the products and services that have emerged from the PODS group.
AUSPODS has grown from around $4 million revenue about six years ago, to about $11 million revenue at present. Just last year, the international company’s Sydney branch was recognised as being number one in the world for customer service within the PODS group, with 92.3 per cent of those surveyed giving a 100 per cent customer satisfaction rate.
We spoke to the CEO of AUSPODS Holding Pty Ltd, Aaron Coulson, about the Australian master franchise he spearheads, and what it truly is that makes it stand out.
What’s the big deal?
The PODS idea (Portable On Demand Storage) was born in the US and has been up and running in Australia and the UK since 2006. Such a simple idea has since been a huge convenience for its many patrons. Packing-weary customers order a portable, ground-level storage container, which is delivered to their homes to use for however long they need to. This can then be delivered to a new home, or deposited in AUSPODS’ clean, secure and pest-controlled storage facilities. A packed container can also be stored onsite at the customers residence. Adding to the convenience of delivery and loading is the three different sized PODS containers available, making them suitable for just about any domestic or commercial moving or storage job.
AUSPODS in Australia runs a grand total of 13 trucks which are all capable of handling the 24 ton mark, with a few additional smaller trucks for those trickier local deliveries.
The PODS group also designed and patented the aptly titled ‘Podzilla’. This is quite the unique hydraulic lift system which loads the PODS container on and off the truck, ensuring the container and its contents remain level. It is regarded amongst the entire industry as being the safest way to lift and transport a container. Its mechanisms minimise the shifting of contents and damage of packed and stored goods .
“This is one of the biggest benefits that we offer versus some of our competitors that use methods like roll-off systems and tilt trays where damages inevitably occur,” asserts Coulson.
There’s nothing more stressful than getting to the day of a move, and finding that a van or container just cannot fit. Hence, AUSPODS works closely with customers to determine their precise needs, priding itself on the one-to-one experience that a generic large-scale call centre service just cannot provide.
“It’s a very small, compact group of people that are often dealing with the same customer from start to finish. This makes servicing our customers a lot easier and more efficient as nothing is lost in translation.”
The company also has the added advantage of using Nearmaps software to determine the exact logistics of the area it’s delivering to, to anticipate any potential issues or dangers, and adjust its services as such.
“We do our best to eliminate any problems that might occur on the day, because in line with our company vision, we want to provide an experience that’s essentially, stress free.”
Up to the time of delivery, the firm has already made significant notes for its drivers, even down to which way the container door needs to face.
“We were never intending to be the cheapest product on the market. We prefer to be the business that gives the peace of mind that comes with moving.”
It’s clear through the way it manages its staff, the people focused ethos of AUSPODS is all-encompassing, not just for show. All of its 42 staff have undergone a comprehensive training program, and the company makes sure they’re very comfortable with their role.
“We have a strong culture where everyone in the business is empowered with different responsibilities, and everyone’s opinion matters,” explains Coulson.
This connected, familial spirit stems from how the business started – a fairly small group of investors intermingled with a lot of family relationships.
“Our aim was to operate the business with family values front of mind.”
Sustainability and outreach
Being a fairly small business, AUSPODS can thankfully have a fairly significant control over its carbon footprint. It always considers energy efficiency in its vehicles purchases, whilst incentivising its drivers to cut their usage by giving them rewards for their accountability rather simply telling them what they need to do and hoping for the best. Coulson describes the company’s approach:
“We’ve been pretty militant in keeping things efficient, and have been using new technologies to track our usage. Our drivers have meanwhile engaged very well with meeting their targets, and they treat it as a competition to see who’s achieving the most efficiency.”
“Because we don’t keep trucks for long, we’re always making sure we’re up-to-date with the latest technologies as far as these efficiencies go.”
You can see corporate responsibility is a passion for the firm. Alongside its environmental endeavours, it strongly believes in giving back to the community, supporting homeless organisations and many different school and local community groups. It’s also been a massive help to disaster victims in Australia, providing free services to many who’ve been involved in bushfires and floods for example, moving their home contents with the efficiency of a paid job, and reaching out through social media for anyone else that may have needed help.
“Any organisation needs to understand that the only way to succeed in business is if you’ve got support of the local community. When you are a decent, ethical company then you want to give this support back wherever you can.”
In this breath, the firm holds many relationships with local suppliers, asserting the importance of supporting local industries so that the industry stays healthy for the long-term rather than just the company worrying about its own short-term needs.
For the future
Coulson voices plans to consider expansion from the East coast to Perth and possibly other regional areas of the country; but more excitingly, explains a new innovation that’s in the pipeline:
“We’re currently working with an Adelaide based company to develop a new foldable container which can be assembled onsite within five minutes. This will mean significant improvements in efficiency, and is probably three to six months away from coming into fruition. The prototype is already developed and tested, and it’s in its final approval process as we speak.”
AUSPODS are here for the long-haul (pardon the pun) and the company assures us it’s not resting on its ‘market leader’ laurels, as it strives to continuously expand and innovate.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: AUSPODS Holding Pty Ltd
WHAT: Moving services and short- and long-term storage solutions using portable on demand storage containers
WHERE: Unit 14/63 Burnside Road, Stapylton QLD 4207 Australia