Creating Superfans Podcast Episode 13: Ron Holt

If you’re a Customer Experience nerd like me, then today’s guest is going to leave you inspired. His name is Ron Holt and he’s the founder and CEO of Pink Zebra Moving. Ron is on a mission to disrupt the moving industry – but not with big data or advanced technology. Instead, taking inspiration from brands like the Savannah Bananas, he’s designed a magical experience for his customers that he’s working to replicate across the country. 

From the high-energy warm-up routines to the surprise closing gifts, Pink Zebra Moving proves that you can create a unique and unforgettable experience for your customers in any industry. 

If you’re looking for creative, low-cost ways to completely WOW your customers before, during, and after the transaction, this is the episode for you.

listen to the EPISODE

show notes

3:04 – Ron shares his background as the founder of the cleaning company, Two Maids & A Mop

4:10 – The revelation Ron had that led him to implement CX changes in his cleaning business

7:30 – Why it’s so important to bake customer centricity into the DNA of your company

9:46 – What is Pink Zebra Moving all about?

11:53 – The worst idea that Ron had with Pink Zebra

14:37 – The new entry plan for Pink Zebra that successfully alleviates his customers’ anxiety 

17:20 – What is the Pay Enhancement Plan?

20:30 – How movers use the clues around the customers’ homes to connect with them

21:36 – How was Ron inspired by the Savannah Bananas when dreaming up the Pink Zebra Moving Company?

23:22 – The one question that Pink Zebra asks every prospective employee

25:39 – How does Ron attract and train the right service-minded staff for his company?

29:58 – What does the Pink Zebra magic look like after the move has been completed? 

33:33 – A Pink Zebra “surprise box” fail that will make you laugh

35:03 – All about Zeke, the new brand mascot

36:03 – That time Zeke crashed a birthday party

Check out Pink Zebra’s website here.


Brittany Hodak (00:03):
Hello and welcome to the Creating Superfans podcast where you learn how to turn your customers and employees into superfans. I’m your host Brittany Hodak and I’m a speaker, author, and entrepreneur, obsessed with all things customer experience. Here’s the thing, we’re living in an experienced economy right now and regardless of the size or age of your company or even the products or services you’re selling, one thing’s for sure. If your customers aren’t telling their friends about you, you are in trouble. If you wanna create superfans, being great is no longer good enough, you’ve got to be super. This is the show that teaches you how

Did you know that the hottest new moving company in America wasn’t founded to move people? No need to rewind. You heard that correctly? Today’s guest will explain a little bit more about what I mean. His name is Ron Holt and he’s the founder and c e o of pink Zebra Moving. Ron is on a mission to disrupt the moving industry, but not with big data or advanced technology. Instead, taking inspiration from brands like the Savannah Bananas. He’s designed a magical experience for his customers that he’s working on replicating across the United States. From the high energy warmup routines to the surprise closing gifts, pink zebra moving proves that you can create a unique and unforgettable experience for your customers in any industry, even if they think it’s a commodity market. Now, if you’re looking for creative low-cost ways to completely wow your customers and turn them into lifelong advocates, this is the episode for you. Before we welcome Ron, I wanna give a quick thanks to the sponsor of today’s episode, my friends at Total Expert. This episode is sponsored by total expert. To create super fans, you need to be super relevant. How Start by leveraging customer insights to create the perfect mix of human and digital touchpoints. Total Expert is a purpose-built c r m revolutionizing the way banks and lenders connect with customers to build trusted relationships and drive growth and loyalty. To learn more, visit total Ron, thank you so much for joining me for the show.

Ron Holt (02:25):
Brittany, I’m super pumped, honored. Can’t wait to talk with you.

Brittany Hodak (02:29):
Yes, this is gonna be a very fun conversation. I always love when I get people who reach out to me who say I’m crazy about CX <laugh>. We have to get together and talk about cx. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I just wanna do it. And that is how you and I connected.

Ron Holt (02:43):
Absolutely. I uh, of course read your book. I know a lot of similar people in the industry and kinda nerded out on your book over several weeks and just said, I gotta figure out a way to talk to Brittany

Brittany Hodak (02:54):
<laugh>. Aw, well thank you. I’m so glad you reached out and you have such a fascinating, Ron. Give me the cliff notes version of what you’ve been up to for the past, let’s say couple of decades.

Ron Holt (03:05):
Yeah, so wow, 20 years ago and I started a cleaning business of all things and when I said that it didn’t, it aged me in my head. So I didn’t really know anything about customer experience and that topic was as foreign of a subject to me as it could ever be at the time. But I knew I wanted to change an industry and I wanted to do it in a unique way. And so I felt like one of the easiest industries to attack at that time was the cleaning industry because it felt very, very old school, antiquated, whatever, you know. And so I started the cleaning business down in Florida and long story short was very fortunate and lucky to build that into almost a 100 location franchise network. Uh, the business was called two Maids and a Mop. We had locations all over the country and at the end of all of that growth and journey, we had more than 2000 employees working across the network. It was total dream come true like the Americans, you know, rags are richest story everybody always wants to hear about. I was fortunate to live that. So it was, it was a heck of a run

Brittany Hodak (04:06):
<laugh>. And you

Ron Holt (04:07):
Exited that. Yes, times were good. Yeah, so toward the end of that 20 year reign, I guess you’ll call it, I sort of had this change in how I think and honestly customer experience was a big part of that transition. I had built this large business, like I said, into almost a hundred locations across the country. People were doing really well. There was money really rolling in even after Covid. Things were really good in the residential cleaning industry, but I was not number one very comfortable in the c e O role. There was a lot of meetings, it felt very corporate, which is why I started a business in the first place. Cause I didn’t really wanna be a corporate America guy, but it felt very corporate and most importantly, I couldn’t make change as much as I used to as a startup guy early on.

And I had noticed that inside of our business that we were really good at marketing. We could generate leads like nobody else in the industry. And for the most part we were still a very good cleaning company, but I’d noticed that there were some customer retention issues that I wanted to address. And so that’s when I sort of fumbled and bumming my way to customer experience. And I said, you know what? We’re gonna change everything about our customer experience at two mains and a mob and here’s how we’re gonna do it. And you can imagine the ripple effects from that. Cause no one likes change, especially whenever things are going well. You know, like what do you saying, you know, we’re doing great, we’re doing better we’ve ever done. But I saw some things that we could really improve upon. All again, geared toward customer experience.

Well unfortunately the change didn’t go over very well and it just was not moving nearly as fast as I wanted it to. And I started sort of looking in the mirror and said, is this who I wanna be? Do I wanna be the c e O guy and Ivory Tower who just has meetings and travels places and talks about things? Or do I wanna do things and do I wanna do things in a way that creates a better experience for our customers? And the answer is yes. And so about that time when I was having those internal thoughts, my mother-in-law of all, I had this really negative, just plain poor experience with a local moving company in our hometown in Birmingham, Alabama. And I didn’t know how bad it was across the industry. I just knew it was bad for her. And I just literally started Yelp.

I just like pulled up Yelp and said, what’s happening in Seattle? What’s happening in Omaha? What’s happening in Miami, Florida? And I thought that would be sort of an easy way to get a snapshot of the country. And her experience was not unique to just her in Birmingham. There was very similar negative experiences in all those markets, in large numbers. And so I had this epiphany that I could go back to my startup roots, I could make change and I could create this crazy customer experience that’s unheard of in the moving industry. And by doing that, have this like disruptive force that would make me a lot happier as a person. You know, everybody wants purpose. And so for me the purpose was to not just build and make money, but to build and make change. And so that’s how I left the cleaning world and entered the moving world.

Brittany Hodak (07:02):
<laugh>. Okay. There are so many things to unpack there on. I feel like we could spend the rest of this podcast just me asking for additional information because this is such a fascinating story. And one of the things that I sort of laughed when I heard you say is, you know, I talk about customer experience all the time and how it’s the number one differentiator between your brand and every other brand, but how it’s gotta be baked into the D n A of your company. And it sounds like you as the C E o, found so much resistance that you thought, you know what, if I wanna have a customer-centric company, it’s gonna be easier for me to sell this franchise business that I built from the ground up. Go to a different industry, create an entirely new brand, put together an entirely new network of franchisees to teach people how things are gonna be from day one than it will be to create change within this business that I’ve been running for two days. Yeah. Is that what I heard you

Ron Holt (08:00):
Say? Absolutely. Kinda think of, I, I’ve told this story to a couple people and the best way for me to kind of describe it is if you’ve ever cooked dinner for your family and it tastes pretty good and they, your husband says, boy, it’s pretty good, but it could be a lot better. That was the reaction I received from our franchisees. Like, why are you trying to make things better? It’s, they’re really good. And I said, well, we could be great <laugh>. You know, so just think how great we could be if our experience is better. Cause I did in the residential cleaning world, it’s about, you know, the customers that you cleaned today, you also clean again two weeks from now, which means a year from now you’ve cleaned those folks 26 times. Well if you’ve stopped after 12, 13 visits, there’s a reason for that. It’s not usually budget related even, it’s usually because they’re just not receiving what they expect. So I saw some weaknesses there that we could improve upon, but it was a very tough sell to say the least

Brittany Hodak (08:55):
<laugh>. Yeah. And I would imagine that’s a very transactional mindset for a lot of, of those franchise owners who look at it and say, oh, we’ve got this much opportunity with this many homes who haven’t hired us, so let’s just go acquire more customers instead of, you know, running about the retention issue that some CEO who’s never satisfied may claim that we have <laugh>.

Ron Holt (09:16):
Bingo. Yeah, <laugh>.

Brittany Hodak (09:18):
Okay, so you have this epiphany, your mother-in-law has this terrible moving experience, inter pink zebra. Yep. So now we’re getting close to present day. I want you to give everybody an overview of how you came up with this concept for Pink Zebra, what it’s all about and what you’re doing differently this time around as you build a similar network of nationwide franchise partners around this idea of, uh, Zeke and Pink Zebra

Ron Holt (09:46):
<laugh>. So I didn’t know anything about the industry other than from a consumer’s perspective. I just knew there was a lot of problems. You know, the same problems again, market to market, scuff walls, stuff that you know, you’ve probably experienced as a customer of a moving company, damaged furniture late, rivals unprofessionalism while the job occurs. Probably the worst is the bills higher than you thought it was gonna be. You know, all these crazy things that happen. And so that’s what I said is that’s the basic problems. But even bigger than that, you mentioned the word transaction in the cleaning industry, that’s one thing because you know, you’re talking about a one or $200 ticket, but in the moving world you’re talking about a one or $2,000 ticket, if not more. And even there it’s transactional. Which is crazy to say that out loud because you would think when you hand over two grand to someone that you know the name of the business that you’re working with, at least <laugh>.

But movie companies usually are that anonymous to their customers. So I wanted to create a better relationship. And so I wanted to get like my hands dirty. I didn’t lift a lot of furniture, I shouldn’t say that cause I’m not a great mover, but I wanted to be very present in the business. And so I didn’t want to go like from two men to p Zebra franchise, franchise overnight. I wanted to like literally be inside the business. And so for the first couple of years or year and a half after two MAs and a mop, I just managed the daily operations of the Birmingham location. And I just learned everything you can about trucks that we never had to deal with before. And we hired men instead of females for the most part and two ma. So that had to be a whole change of just how you manage folks.

I had to figure out how to generate revenue. It was a different similar business, but a different business at the same time. So we, we just went all in on moving and also went all in on cx. We experimented with so much, it was fun. We didn’t always hit home runs the stuff we talk about today or home runs because they made it through the filter. But there were some really bad ideas as well, you know, that just didn’t hit the mark. But it was never from a lack of effort. We always had, you know, good reasons for it. So what was the

Brittany Hodak (11:49):
Worst idea? What was the worst thing that you guys tried and you were like, Nope, just not gonna work.

Ron Holt (11:53):
This sounds bad as soon as I say it. So you’re probably thinking, why don’t you even think of this? But <laugh>, if you’ve ever been to a football game, you know, and there’s like a college football game, there’s like tailgating and all this other stuff happening for hours before the game happens. And then the game happens and there’s a kickoff. But in moving, I said, you know, all we ever do is pull up, get outta the truck and start moving. I’m like, there’s no, we need some tailgating. And so I wanted there to be this huge like intro. And so we had a smoke machine in the side, the back of the truck, pink, of course smoke. And as soon as we pulled up, we had put these huge speakers on the truck, we would blast really like jock rock type music and the guys would jump out of the back with pink smoke going, which <laugh> I thought was a great idea. But what I didn’t take into account was most of our moves occur very early in the morning to start. And so some people, like neighbors in other words, aren’t awake even. And then two, not everyone’s like waiting on us as we pull up. And so we would sometimes do this circus act and no one would even know we did it <laugh>. You know? So it sounded like such a good idea at the time. But yeah, it, it felt

Brittany Hodak (13:04):
<laugh> it, it sounded like a good idea, but you didn’t quite understand your customer story, right? Those two Hals of the Venn diagram were like different, like floating circles far, far away rather than an intersection of, of indeed and an idea.

Ron Holt (13:19):
But you know what we did? So we fell there, but it was a step towards success. We have a great way to start the service now and so we, so it’s not nearly as crazy as the peak smoke and all that other good stuff. So if you, have you ever hired a moving company before?

Brittany Hodak (13:34):
I haven’t. I’ve had several less than great experiences. <laugh>, well, lemme put it this way, I’ve never hired the same moving company twice, even though in the 11 years that I lived in Manhattan, I moved three or four times.

Ron Holt (13:47):
You know, I’ll challenge you. I bet you can’t name their names.

Brittany Hodak (13:49):
Oh yeah, no, honestly, I feel like I always just got the feeling that they were a lot of DBAs because after they had like so many negative Google and Yelp reviews that they were like, yeah, we can’t come back from this. They’d just like started DBA and it’d be like the same people who were gonna do a terrible job. But it was called like Eddie’s moving service today instead of like big Eddie’s

Ron Holt (14:12):
Service. Well, unfortunately that’s a thing. That’s a real thing.

Brittany Hodak (14:15):
Yeah. Oh no. Yeah, I’m, I’m sure in so many industries, but especially as you said, the moving industry because it’s like a longer purchase cycle, right? Right. It’s like somebody’s gonna hire you. They may not move again for, you know, eight years, 10 years, 12 years, whatever. Especially if, if it’s somebody moving like in the suburbs. So a lot of thought customer retention and an industry like that, oftentimes

Ron Holt (14:37):
You may remember, hopefully they did this, there’s usually like this very boring walkthrough prior to the move occurs from like a lead person or whatever. And it’s a five minute kind of deal and you don’t know who this person is. So it’s this stranger walking with you throughout the house and it just, it’s supposed to be a way to start a, a relationship, but it’s very impersonal. So we said, okay, we, we can’t just like jump in, do the quick five minute walkthrough and then start working cuz that’s, that’s too boring. You know, we gotta figure out a way to create some theater before the work even begins. So we still do the walkthrough cuz that’s, there’s some practical reasons for that. But after the walkthrough, our team lead introduces the guys that are doing the work. It always has like a fun way to introduce those.

But at the end we do this like three minute, it’s not, it may even be two to three minutes, but like workout routine. And we do everything <laugh>. We do everything from jumping jacks to pushups. We do running in place. You know, there’s silly things that have real no practical value, but we’re just trying to get the, the customers to re like lower their anxiety because at that point of the day, everything’s in front of them and everything seems very scary. And so we’re trying to just peop get people to kinda breathe a little bit and let them know that it’s gonna be okay, we’re, we’re, we’re gonna do our job, but we’re also not gonna just, you know, put the hoodie over our head, put the earbuds in, lower our heads and work all day. We’re gonna be real people with them. So

Brittany Hodak (16:00):
Yeah, you’re part of the team you’re showing up to say, we got you.

Ron Holt (16:04):
Right, right. Hopefully before we ever show up, you know, we have a whole onboarding process that occurs prior to that day. So they already know what they’re in store for. Like they, they know that this is not just a normal moving experience already. So hopefully they’ve engaged with all those contacts and they know that the pushups and the jumping jacks are sort of part of the act. So.

Brittany Hodak (16:25):
Yeah. Well, again, I have so many questions I wanna talk to you about how you vet the potential franchisees because obviously, you know, all customer experience is rooted in employee experience and that’s something that can feel a few steps removed sometimes when you’re dealing with multiple franchisees across the country who are, you know, then hiring people. So I wanna talk to you about that. But before we get to that, I wanna ask you something that I thought was so fascinating when I went to your website and I was looking around, you have something that you call a pay enhancement plan where the experience that customers receive actually impacts the wage that the moving team makes, right? So you say the happier we make you, the more money our employees make with us. I want to hear a little bit about your idea for this pay enhancement plan and, and how, what’s the reaction to it? Like how do the movers feel? How do the customers feel? Talk to me about that.

Ron Holt (17:20):
Yeah, so it’s really meant to be like, I’m a big fan of culture, right? And so it’s really easy when I look around my office here in, in Birmingham to get our people to sort of act like I act, you know, make decisions like how would make decisions. Cause we, we live together basically more than I’m with my family, you know, so movers are out in the field, they’re doing the hard work and it’s cold in the winter, it’s hot in the summer, you know, so there’s, uh, a lot of heavy lifting for a pardon the punt. So when you have this weird sort of upside down dynamic where all of the work is in the field, yet all the people making these decisions that are important are not in the field. It just becomes, in my opinion, kind of disjointed. And so I’ve always felt like it’s important to figure out a way to align everyone’s interest, uh, create an ownership mentality.

And we went round and round like how do we do that? How do we get movers to think like the owner of the business? And the easiest way to do it was just ask the customer, you know, ask the customer what their thoughts were on the service. And if our employees knew we were gonna ask the customer every time and it was gonna affect their paycheck, then you know, you’d have a better opportunity for things to be, you know, good. You know, so when we say we’d like for you to do some jumping jacks to start the day, when we ask people to, we have sort a lot of fun things that we do. One of the crazier things we do is we paint a bathroom with a whole bunch of pink and white. It’s so early on, the movers are like, huh, why? So our initial thought was, well, cause in this industry tipping is a big deals.

Like you’re gonna get bigger, bigger tips. And then you’re like, okay, but not really. Why else should we do it? So we said, because if you don’t make the customer happy, if you don’t create this great experience, then your paycheck’s gonna depend on or make it be, you know, it’s gonna be up or down based on that. So that turned out to be sort of a, a big deal for us and a big change maker for us as well. We didn’t really think about using it in terms of marketing. We’ve since redirected that and we talk about it with a lot of people where they like customers or leads who call us asking for quotes that people really like it because like you, most people have this negative experience in their past. So when we can tell them what we’re gonna do to make that different compared to what they’ve seen in the past than it usually is a, a selling point for us.

Brittany Hodak (19:34):
Well, and I think it’s so smart because it’s, it’s a really actionable way to drive home something that I talk about in the book, which is this idea that everyone is in the experience department and someone who hires Pink Zebra is going to form their opinion and talk to their friends about their experience based not on their interaction with you, Ron, the founder, but with Jesse who shows up to help them move that day or Kyle. And so making sure that not only do you find the right Jesse’s and Kyle’s and you train them appropriately, but you also give them the incentives and the tools that they need to then go out there and live the brand and you know, deliver that intentional experience that you’ve designed rather than it’s sort of just defaulting to like however they feel that day,

Ron Holt (20:19):
Right? It creates our movers all come to us because they think they’re gonna work for a moving company. But what we end up doing between the culture of things that we talk about and the pay enhancement plan, all of that creates what we call better listeners. And we’re, we’re walking into someone’s home for half a day, you know, before we go to the, to the next place to drop everything off. So we see what team allegiances they have, we see, you know, what they care about, what they love, you know, about their life, what their hobbies are, if they’re a hunter, if they’re a cook, whatever. You know, we see all those things. So it gives us opportunities to literally just have conversations. If somebody’s a big Tom Brady fan, you know, and you see the Pats or Bucks photos everywhere, then talk about Tom Brady, you know, <laugh>. So when we first started the business and we told movers to do this, it was very difficult for them to understand how to pull that off. But one we started by showing, and then two, we just created incentives for them to wanna do it.

Brittany Hodak (21:15):
All right. Ron, I know you’ve told me that you were inspired by our mutual friend Jesse Cole from the Savannah Bananas. As you were thinking through the brand of p Zebra, the experience of Pink Zebra, what you all wanted it to be. Can you expand a little bit on that? Like what inspired you about Jesse and the bananas and how has that sort of come to life in this new brand of Pink Zebra?

Ron Holt (21:37):
Yeah, it’s a great question, Jesse. If you’re watching, you already know this, but I have a huge man crush on you. I used to always hate the color yellow cause I went to Georgia and Georgia Tech is yellow, but I’ve, I’ve moved on, I’m okay with it now. You know, I just love the, the same reason everybody loves the story. You know, it’s a baseball team that’s supposed to be concerned about winning and losing and that’s how you get people to show up to watch more baseball games. And he just sort of flipped the switch and said, Nope, we’re gonna get you here because we wanna create this whole theater. You know? And I just felt like, gosh, I’ve, I played baseball growing up. If you can get a baseball player to wear kilts and you know, do crazy things that they do, then why can’t you do that for movers?

You know? And so I knew that there’s a million ways to attack an industry and disrupt an industry, but a lot of those in, you know, in 23 all are software related. You know, you gotta be some magic coder. That’s not me. I’m not, I went to Georgia, I’m not smart enough for that, you know? So I just said, well gosh, you know, I know we have a experience issue. I know we have a problem in our industry with it. I love this idea of what Jesse’s done with the bananas and, and the baseball. So why don’t we try it here and see what we can do? It all started with that general idea. And then we had to put some of those ideas into practice to see if customers would be that interested in it. Because you could, you gotta remember in our world, uh, Jesse, customers don’t pay him by the minute, but they do in our business.

And so we do have to respect the time that people are paying for. So we can’t go off on 10 minute qui, you know, otherwise people are gonna not wanna get charged for those 10 minutes. So there were a lot of things that we experimented with early on and I consider earlier just didn’t work. But at the end of the day, what we did is we told every mover, we still tell them this to this day, every time we hire someone, we tell them, we asked them this question, did you know that the most popular baseball team in America doesn’t play baseball? And they always give us these weird looks and we tell them the whole story of the bananas at that point. And then we bring it back to our industry and we said, we want to be the most popular moving business in this country. And that move, you know, we wanna create this experience for our customers and of course we have to load things and unload them and we do everything, uh, without damaging property and do it in a timely manner and an affordable rate. And so we have to do all those basic things, but at the end of the day, we want people to talk about the stories from our move more than the actual moving of the items.

Brittany Hodak (24:04):
Well, and I’d love for you to talk a little bit about what that process looks like, both when you are vetting new potential franchise partners and also when you are helping teach them to hire and train employees. Because like you said before, a lot of people apply thinking they’re applying to a moving company. And one of the things that Jesse writes about in his book, fans First, which I highly recommend for anybody who hasn’t read it, if you liked my book, you’ll probably really like Jesse’s book. We seem to be preaching from, you know, the same bible, but Jesse talks about in his book, fans First Taking Care of Your First Fans, which is what he calls his employees. And I say in my book that if you don’t have superfans inside your company, you are never going to have them outside your company. Because an apathetic employee never creates an engaged customer, right?

And so obviously this is such a mindset shift, such a paradigm shift for the moving industry. I want to hear you talk a little bit about when somebody says like, okay, I’m applying for a job. I, you know, I’m good at moving stuff, I can lift heavy things, I can drive a moving truck, whatever it is. How do you vet that person to say, this isn’t any other moving company, this is Zebra, here’s what it means. I would imagine that some people are like, yeah, that’s not what I signed up for. And others are like, yeah, I’ll give it a try. So I’d love for you to kind of share some of the things that you’ve found successful both to attract and then sort of align these people around an idea of like, this might not be what you thought it was, but if you’ll come join us, it’s gonna be a really fun, exciting ride.

Ron Holt (25:38):
Well, that’s a great question. It sort of starts at the top. So we have a franchisee who owns the business. Sometimes that franchisee is also what we call a branch manager. The manager of the business, oftentimes they hire someone to do that. And then we have all the movers, right? And so the movers actually work for the franchisee, not necessarily for us in a franchise system. So it’s a little bit more complicated cause of that dynamic. So what we do again is we start at the very top and we, every franchisee has to go through what we just, it’s a generic name, but customer experience training, there’s actually a certificate, of course it’s pink, but there is a customer experience training that they go through that takes, that’s over, it’s several months. Your book is actually part of that curriculum. And so, oh my gosh, that’s amazing. <laugh>,

Brittany Hodak (26:24):
I dig. It’s a huge

Ron Holt (26:27):
Honor. Yeah, you’ve definitely earned it. So a lot of it is high level to begin with, but then we try to get the weeds, you know, toward the end of that training so that we can see what they would do. So we’ll pose them with a fake customer and say, this is what these folks enjoy, what would you do you? And usually people go straight to like gifts, like okay, they like, I’ll do it again Tom Brady, so I’m gonna get, you know, I’m gonna buy them a Tom Brady football card or whatever, you know. And so I, we challenge people to say, okay, what doesn’t cost any money? Like what’s, what would just cost you time? And so we keep pushing and pushing and pushing and so we try to get that franchisee to understand that you don’t have to be Walt Disney to put on that type of experience.

And so when we get that in place, then we task the franchisee with doing the same thing with their manager and their movers. And so a lot of the things that we do are very structured when no one has to do anything, they’re all behind the scenes, the communication and touchpoints that occur. For instance, between booking date and moving date, the franchisee has to do very little. It’s all programmed. And we send everything from video messages to text messages to emails, to even what looks to be at least handwritten letters, but they’re not handwritten letters. And all of those things are going out all the time because we’re trying to just let the customer know, well, we show up, things are gonna be okay, you know, cause this anxiety builds between book date and move date, which usually is a few weeks, a couple weeks on average.

And so 14 days occurs from the time you’ve made the decision to hire a MOU company to whenever they show up. So that’s 14 days of pressure just building, you know. So we try to reduce that and say, Hey, we’re not gonna be as bad as the other folks you hired. In fact, we’re gonna make it fun. You’re gonna enjoy it if things aren’t perfect. We are real people that solve problems. We’re not just gonna go run, we’re not gonna change our name. You know, we’re gonna do all those things that are necessary cuz we aren’t perfect. We are, we do make mistakes. And so when those mistakes occur with a stranger, it’s a transaction and then all of a sudden you’ve got all these problems. But when you have mistakes, sometimes they’re not small mistakes even. But when you have mistakes with a person that trusts you, then there’s a back and forth because the other person says, well I know they’re gonna make this right because I know Ron, I know he’s a good person.

So I know that because I’ve talked to him a lot over the last two weeks. <laugh>, you know, so I wish I could say we do. We go straight to the movers and say this is how you do it. There are some things that we say you must do, you must do the pushups and the jumping jacks like I talked about, you must do that. And so there are some check marks, but a lot of it is culture-based where we’re just people to listen, observe, and then use that knowledge to do something, to create a a theater. We have hours and hours of time to do some of those things. So they’re, we’re not talking about a full day of theater, but even if it’s five minutes here and two minutes there, that’s usually enough for us to kinda separate ourself. So

Brittany Hodak (29:23):
Yeah, I love that. And I would love for you to talk a little bit about after you gave us a great sense of, of the before and the during. Sure. I know in my book I talk about the idea of intentional experience design. Your reviews and referrals are going to come after the moving part of the experiences ended. So I’d love to hear how you differentiate yourself and also how you generate some of those reviews and referrals after the move has been completed. Both in following up in the feedback that you got from the pay enhancement plan and also sort of, you know, like wrapping it up with the bow on the experience.

Ron Holt (29:58):
Yeah, I’m glad you said that. Cause we actually do that. So in our world we’re full of moving boxes, right? And so when a moving company leaves, there’s the customer has a sense of, you know, it’s over, it’s almost exhaustion I guess. Even though you’re not doing the work, it’s over. But then you look around and all you see are boxes, you know, and like you gotta unpack all that stuff and organize it. So it’s still a lot of work still left to do. So we wanted to help with that feeling. So we leave behind what we call a surprise box. The surprise box has a pink bow on it. So I said it’s good timing with that description. And inside of it we have some general like just goodies, like candy and chocolate, things like that. But we always learn something about our customers.

So we have so much conversation with our customers leading up to the move that we usually know a good bit about them. I hate to keep going Tom for any train, but if some, someone is that big of a fan of, you know, a player or whatever, then we would try to use that to our advantage. Like here in the south college football is king. So oftentimes we’ve reached out to college football players with the N I L environment. You could talk directly to a player and we get them to send a, a video message to our customers. We’ll frame it with that person’s, you know, image or whatever in a frame, one of those talkable frames and we’ll stick it in the box so when they open it after we leave, cuz we never hand this over, we always leave this in a spot that they’re gonna find maybe a day later, sometimes, you know, a few hours later.

But they find it after we’ve left and they see this bow around a box and it’s intriguing. So they open it and they see all the fun stuff inside there with whatever the personalized gift is. So that’s, that’s one of the fun things that we do to just sort of leave behind a memento kind of deal. The day after the move, this isn’t quite as creative, but the day after the move, our branch managers at each one of our locations sends a personalized video. Like they just, they go super old school, they pull their cell phones out, they,

Brittany Hodak (31:53):
Okay, well that’s super old school is pulling out your cell phone by the

Ron Holt (31:56):
Way. Well there’s,

Brittany Hodak (31:57):
That’s where we’re at in, uh, the continuum for anybody who didn’t already feel old, super old

Ron Holt (32:02):
School. Yeah. But they just, they just send a video and they use that person’s name. Like if you were, the customer would say, Hey Brittany, this is Ron. We enjoyed helping you yesterday, we’re still here. So if for some reason you find something has been damaged or not perfect or if you just need some more help, give us a call. Here I am. And so the branch manager’s just really trying to humanize himself instead of just being this name behind a, you know, an email and that little simple, it’s usually like 15 seconds long. That 15 second little video message usually resonates because now if you were to stumble into something that isn’t perfect, which is probably gonna happen, you’re not scared to and you’re not worried that the person’s gonna hide from you, we’ve proactively said we’re here. And so we love the bows and the fun stuff.

I got some fun stories of that one by the way. But the video is probably the most, the most important thing we do after the move occurs. And that also goes back to how we get reviews because we ask for the review in that video we always ask, you know, and talk about what we can do. We have some tech solutions that encourage feedback and that allows for us to receive that beyond just the video. But the video directly asks for feedback and everyone knows with our pay enhancement plan that that’s part of it. When someone hires us, they know we’re gonna ask for a rating. And so that usually goes hand in hand with the review.

Brittany Hodak (33:19):
So good. I love the idea of the surprise box. That’s something that anyone can implement regardless of the industry that they’re in such a great idea.

Ron Holt (33:29):
You wanna hear a fun story about it?

Brittany Hodak (33:31):
<laugh>? I absolutely wanna hear a fun story about it.

Ron Holt (33:33):
So like I said, we’ve got some good ideas that really work and we’ve had some that just completely bombed and we didn’t think through this one that well. But we would put one of those little small wine bottles in there and we were worried about not, what if it gets, you know, somebody doesn’t drink or whatever, how will that be handled? We didn’t think about this side of it. So we actually moved a friend of mine here locally in Birmingham. This was a year ago or so, and we really killed it. A let surprise box cuz I, I, I’ve known him my whole life and so we really killed it and he never said anything. And I’m like, how did he not say thanks Ron or something. I had to find out. We don’t ever call someone and say, Hey, did you get that box? But I had to in this case. So I said, what’s up with the box? You didn’t, you didn’t think all that stuff over there was really cool. He’s like, what box? And so they went to look for the box and they found it in their teenage daughter’s room and apparently the teenage daughter found it before the parents did and saw the wine bottle <laugh> and drank the wine <laugh>.

So no more alcohol in our boxes. Oh

Brittany Hodak (34:38):
My gosh. Okay. Well again, you know, you gotta iterate, you gotta <laugh> you gotta try things and see how they land and then improve, so That’s right. Got it. It’s so funny. Okay, well I can’t let you go before asking you about Zeke. You know, I love mascots, you know, I was Sting the Bee. I wanna hear about the newest member of the Pink Zebra family, Zeke and how he’s gonna be a part of all the fun moving forward.

Ron Holt (35:03):
So Zeke is the zebra, it’s the peak zebra of fig, zebra moving Zeke is at every imported event from the grand opening to Easter events, to Christmas events, to summer events, anything that’s local that there will be families or anyone participating in it. We’re Zeke’s gonna be there. And so you’ll we’re coming to Nashville soon, so you’ll probably see him at some point at a, at some type of local festival. But he’s always a big hit at like a pet festival or we have a minor league baseball team in our Birmingham market and he would race the actual Birmingham’s mascot every game in the seventh inning. And that was always a huge head. He’s in every parade you would ever want him to be in. And every No. Then he shows up at a move if when he shows up at a move, we always know there’s gonna be children there. Yeah. When he shows up. And that’s, that’s usually a, a fun way to get it started

Brittany Hodak (35:58):
<laugh>. That is really cool. Does he, has he shown up at any birthday parties post Move yet?

Ron Holt (36:03):
So that’s funny you said that when, I always have funny stories I think, but this one’s really funny. So we’re, we’re in multiple locations. One of our locations is in Athens, Georgia and he was actually one of our customers wanted him to attend a birthday party. And it was in this, it was outside, it was the springtime so it was outside and it was supposed to go to this like soccer field or whatever. So we show up, I wasn’t there, but we show up for the party and we hang out, we’re taking pictures and we’re having fun. And a parent walked over and said, who are you? Why are you here? And we’re like, we’re here for the party, the birthday party. They’re like, no one hears by that name. We were at the wrong birthday party. And so Zeke was kind of freaking the parents out cause no one knew that he was there for fun. So there was another soccer field like next door that there was actually another party going on. So we relocated and and made ourself a little bit more welcome there <laugh>,

Brittany Hodak (36:59):
The Party Crasher. I am 100% watching that episode of the Netflix show that inevitably is going to exist in a few years about Zeke and all of the antics of Team Pink Zebra.

Ron Holt (37:11):
Well thank you Brittany. We we’re having fun moving, you know, that’s our tagline. We make moving fun so we think we can do it. We’re doing it so far and we can’t wait to really scale this brand across the country. It’s, it’s been a fun ride so far and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

Brittany Hodak (37:24):
Well thank you so much Ron for coming on the show, for sharing so much wisdom and inspiring everyone to think about how they can infuse CX and fun into their brand. Where should people go if they want more information about you or how to get involved with Pink Zebra, either as a customer or a franchisee or anything in between?

Ron Holt (37:42):
Sure. So if you’re just interested, you know, can we help move you or even pack something inside your home? Pink Zebra Moving is the easiest way to just get a quote and learn how to book and go from there. If you’re interested in the franchise opportunity, we are essentially ready to go across this country. We’re, we’re at five markets right now. Another four are set to open here in just a few weeks. So we’ll be in nine markets by the end of this first quarter. But we really have 200 plus other markets we wanna be in. So if you wanna learn more about the franchise opportunity, pink zebra moving is the easiest place to learn more information about us.

Brittany Hodak (38:16):
Okay, Ron, before I let you go, hit me with a zebra. Fun fact. I knew you must know a ton about zebras at this point,

Ron Holt (38:24):
Way too much about zebras. But did you know that a herd or a pack of zebras is called a dazzle?

Brittany Hodak (38:31):
A dazzle

Ron Holt (38:33):

Brittany Hodak (38:34):
I absolutely not know that. That is very fun. All right, that’s all the time we have for today’s episode of the Creating Superfan Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in. Now remember, if you are a super fan of today’s episode, you can help us out in a big way by leaving a review in a reading wherever you get your podcast. It may seem like a little thing, but it can make a huge difference in helping others discover the show. Now. Until next time, remember, super Fandom is a two-way street. Show your love for your customers and your employees and they’ll love you right back. We’ve got an exciting show lined up for next week, so I hope we’ll see you right back here. Bye-bye.


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