A stint of playing American football in Germany started Bradley Fraser on the road to launching a niche business not seen before in New Zealand.
Senior Move Managers offers a unique relocation service specifically targeting seniors moving from their home into a retirement village. Not only was it a new idea for Bradley and co-founder, Paul Lawrence, it was a completely new approach to the moving industry.
Bradley says moving out of the family home and into a retirement village can be scary for some people and his company sets about making it as stress-free as possible.
“Traditionally the moving industry offerings aren’t very good and we wanted to provide a turn key service that would be seamless.”
What sets Senior Move Managers apart from the run-of-the-mill moving companies is that they understand the emotional implications of the move. They realise it is not just a physical process.
“We work through the move with the client. We help declutter and sort belongings, disposing of unwanted goods, before packing them up and transporting them to their new home. Once there, we do everything from unpack and sort, to placing everything where it needs to be, following an approved floor plan, remove all the packaging and even make the beds. Many of our clients just go out for lunch while we do all the work.”
Bradley credits a lot of their success over the last few years to Business Mentors NZ’s Glen Rutherford.
“As part of ChristchurchNZ’s high growth programme we were given the opportunity to work with a dedicated business mentor,” says Bradley. “Glen helped us focus our energy and gave us the foundation and building blocks to be successful.
“He has been a calming voice through the stresses of business and given us the ability to recognise when to take a step back so you are working on the business and not constantly working in the business.”
So how did a public health professional get into the moving business? Bradley was in Germany playing American football and as part of community service, Bradley and his team mates would help older people pack up and move.
A few years later he saw his grandparents go through the process of moving into a retirement village and saw all the angst that goes with it. The idea was borne.
“Anyone can have an idea but it’s how you execute it,” says Bradley. “Glen kept us moving in the right direction, while retaining a big picture perspective and setting measurables that kept us accountable.”
Glen, who comes from a very diverse business background, brought leadership, governance and people skills to the table. After a 40 year career as a teacher, agronomist, sales and marketing specialist and a corporate role in HR, Glen retired to Christchurch and became a mentor for Business Mentors New Zealand.
“There were so many people and businesses that needed help to get back on their feet after the earthquake. It was a natural next step and one I am so glad I took,” says Glen.
Over the last seven years Glen has worked with close to 30 different companies guiding them through their issues and helping them succeed.
“Bradley and Paul already had the business skills so my role was really to ask questions and challenge their assumptions and plans. We talked through such things as financing, intellectual property protection, governance structure and recruitment, employee strategy and developing high level team performance.
“I was able to share tools that I had used in my corporate life and introduce them to contacts from my business networks,” says Glen.
Senior Move Managers contract their services directly to customers as well as working with retirement villages and provide their moving service free to new village residents.
But it’s not just seniors that are taking up the company’s offerings. “We’re finding our clients’ children often get in touch with us asking if we’ll do the same thing for them. They’re time poor and they want us to organise it all for them while they’re at work,” explains Bradley.
Moving can be physically demanding and stressful but Senior Move Manager’s employees share their founders’ vision of valuing their people and providing great value to customers at a really uncertain time in their life.
Starting out five years ago with just the two of them, Bradley and Paul now employ 46 people across seven branches and are looking to open another two locations before the end of the year. Senior Move Managers is also a finalist in this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year.
The company has recently expanded its services and launched SMM Real Estate to provide a smooth transition into the next phase of life.
“We can now offer a realty service with competitive sales commission, free marketing and move the customer to their next home for free. It just brings the whole process together and hopefully takes the pain out of it all.”
Next year, Bradley and his team have their sights set on Australia. “No one in Australia is doing this. All the big New Zealand retirement companies have started developments in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland so it made absolute sense to expand our services across the ditch.”
Top Tips for working with a Mentor
- A mentor won’t do the work for you. Their role includes:
- acting as a sounding board
- sharing their knowledge and expertise
- assessing your business and the expertise within it
- identifying areas that need improvement or development
- suggesting specific actions that you can implement
- helping you to see that there is a 'bigger picture.'
- helping you develop your decision-making skills
- Avoid creating an expectation of the perfect mentor. Your mentor may come from a different background or have a different skillset to what you might think you need. Trust that you have been matched with them for the right reason. A mentor who can draw on a different set of experiences to your own will be invaluable when you consider how to address challenges.
- Prepare for the mentoring sessions, including doing any “homework” your mentor gives you between sessions.
- Be proactive – respond to communications promptly, show up to meetings, check-in with your mentor (don’t wait for them to reach out to you).
- Be honest about the state of your business, any challenges, how you’re feeling, etc.
- Be open-minded, willing to listen and be receptive to receiving constructive feedback related to you and your business.
- Set goals – both short and long term. Create an action plan to work on to ensure you achieve them. This will also help you to measure your mentoring progress.
If you are considering getting the support of a Business Mentor for your small business, click here.