Recycle Your Moving Boxes: How to Make a Castle

Castle Craft (1)Summertime is just around the corner, and this is our busy season!  Statistically speaking, if you’re planning to move anytime soon, you’ll probably move during the May-August time period.  If you are moving soon (or have moved recently), what do you usually do with all of your moving boxes afterward?  Since we have lots of boxes around the office, we decided to help you find some fun ways to recycle them.

While trying to decide what to make first, I thought about all my “mom friends” who look for ways to keep their kiddos entertained while they’re home all-day-every-day during the summer.  I came up with this super-fun play castle, and it only took about 30-45 minutes to make.  Here’s how I did it:

Castle Craft (2)

First, I gathered my materials.  I used a Wardrobe Box and two Medium Boxes, but you can use whatever sized boxes you have around your house.

Castle Craft (3)Next, I worked on making my Tower.  You’ll want to cut the holes in the box with an Exacto-knife while it’s laying flat on the floor before you tape any parts of the box.  I cut a window, plus a large rectangular hole in the side that will serve as the doorway for your kids to crawl into the tower.

Castle Craft (4)                      Castle Craft (5)

Once my holes were cut, I taped the bottom of the Wardrobe Box together to make a “floor”.  To make sure there were no flaps and no chance of the bottom coming apart, I taped the seams on both the inside and outside of the box.

Castle Craft (6)After the tower was finished, I cut holes in the sides of my two Medium Boxes as crawl spaces, and cut just an arch (not the bottom of the arch) into one of the boxes to make a fold-down drawbridge.

The last step is just taping the three boxes together to connect the crawl spaces!  Now your kids can play in their castle.  If you use our clean, white boxes, they’ll also have plenty of decorating space.  (We recommend using washable markers or crayons.)

Done!  Keep checking back on our blog for more Recycled Box Crafts!  And if give us a call if you’d like to purchase some of our high-quality boxes at 615-248-6288.

Just in time for Memorial Day, Joe tells us about his super cool grandfather.

Our Customer Service Supervisor, Joe.
Our Customer Service Supervisor, Joe.

When we have some down time in the office during our lunch hour, the office staff likes to swap stories about what they’ll be doing over the weekend, funny things that have happened to them in the past, and anecdotes about their family members.  Since Memorial Day is upon us, the conversation naturally led to the veterans we have in our lives.  While the closest veteran I have in my life is actually my fiance’s dad, who was in the Navy, our Customer Service Supervisor had so many cool stories to tell about his Army-retired grandfather.

Joe’s grandfather was in the Army during the time of WWII, but he actually wasn’t sent into Japan until just after the war concluded.  “It must have been 1945,” Joe told me, while he did the math in his head.  I asked what his grandfather did when he got there, and Joe gave me the thing that stuck out most in his mind: “I know that at some point, they were conducting a raid, and he found this giant box of Samurai swords.  He showed it to us; it’s pretty cool!”

I was super impressed hearing about his Army history, but Joe is always very humble and tried to downplay it: “He was in logistics, so he wasn’t ever in combat.”  But not being in combat definitely didn’t mean that his grandfather wasn’t tough…  Joe went on to tell us about the two times his grandfather lost fingers while doing construction work.  He lost his first finger while building his own farmhouse, and then a second one while working on Joe’s childhood home with Joe’s father.  Joe told me, “He called up to my dad saying he needed help, but then shouted back up the stairs to let him know he could just keep on working.”  Fortunately, they walked in a while later, found out what had happened, and rushed him to the hospital in time to reattach it.

What are your best memories of your veteran relatives?

Four “Evergreen” Spring Cleaning Tips

evergreen spring cleaning tips

“Spring cleaning” is something we all know we should do more often, but life always throws other priorities in the way.  Because we’re the experts in home moving, we often get questions about how to keep a home more organized or less cluttered as our customers prepare to move into their new homes.  Here are just a few creative ideas we’ve come up with that can be used to keep your house organized all year round, whether you’re moving or not!

1. Let your office organization inspire your house organization.

We’re not saying you should bring your work home with you, but sometimes you can steal the organizational techniques you’ve used in your office and let them de-clutter your house.  For example, you know those plastic filing bins you hang on your cubicle or office wall?  At work, you use the bins for inbound messages and paperwork from coworkers.  At home, you can hang some of those bins near your “mail spot” and assign each of the bins to a family member.  If it’s your turn to check the mail, you can easily sort the mail into those bins for each person who receives it.  You can also put the morning newspaper in your husband’s bin when you’re done reading it, or leave him anything else that you generally forget to show him, like the invitation to the dinner party that you guys are going to this weekend.

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2. Purge your closet!

Almost everyone has heard the trick about getting rid of all the clothes you haven’t worn in a year.  If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t wear it again…  You’ve outgrown that style.  But sometimes it’s hard to remember if you wore something last year, and sometimes it’s hard to fight your emotional attachments to particular clothing pieces.

Here’s a strategy for figuring out what you really wear the most often: Today, turn all of your hangers facing outward, so you have to bring the hanger below the bar to remove it from your closet.  Then, the first time you wear a pair of pants, shirt, or jacket after today, turn that hanger around.  At the beginning of next spring, you’ll be able to tell all of the clothes you haven’t worn in a year because the hangers will still be facing outward!  Those are the clothing items you have to donate.

3. Make oven-cleaning easier.

I don’t know about you, but we all dread the days that we have to scrub food stains out of the bottom of our ovens.  Then we learned this trick that will make the next time you clean the bottom of your oven the last time: After getting it squeaky clean, line the bottom of your oven with oven-safe foil or parchment paper.  Then, instead of scrubbing, you can just replace the liner each time the bottom of your oven is dirty!

4. Give your random, small objects a home.

If you can’t find your umbrella or phone at work, the first place you check is your office’s Lost and Found, right?  Why not make a Lost and Found for the random things you’re missing around the house?  Get a pretty box and designate it as the place you’ll keep extra buttons, misplaced game pieces, socks without a match, and anything else you find that you know will need to be Found later.  Then everyone in your home will have a first place to look when they’re missing something.

Any other simple Spring Cleaning tips?  Send ’em our way!

What I Learned from “Movers for Moms”

IMG_0804We just finished our Movers for Moms campaign last week, where we collected household and beauty/health Mother’s Day gift donations for the homeless moms at the Safe Haven Family Shelter.  We were able to collect about 850 items for the shelter, including hundreds of soaps, some new women’s clothing, and cozy throw blankets.  We were also able to find support with 8 other local businesses in the area who were glad to help us collect donations from the community, and who brought in their own donations as well!  This was our franchise’s first time hosting a large-scale donation, and I learned so much about donation collections, community involvement, and the Safe Haven shelter.  Here were some of my top 3 takeaways from the event:

1. Safe Haven is the coolest.

I’ve personally been involved with countless non-profit organizations that work to reduce the prevalence of homelessness, and Safe Haven is hands-down the coolest organization I’ve ever personally worked with.  I didn’t realize that they’re the only homeless shelter in Middle Tennessee that accepts whole families into their facility.  And a lot of these families haven’t been homeless forever–they just got caught in a bad family or financial situation, and need a leg up to get back to a place of stability.  Safe Haven provides financial literacy, job skills, psychological healing, and even homework help for the family members that come in, and they work to bring them into an affordable housing solution as quickly as possible.  I was super impressed by Safe Haven’s focus on self-sustainability and individual responsibility, instead of just giving a hand-out or moving the homeless to the next hoop they have to jump through to get help.

2. Everyone can help, and most want to… The question is “How?”

During March and April, I can’t even tell you how many neighborhood associations, businesses, customers, and community leaders I spoke with about our Movers for Moms event.  I don’t think I spoke with a single person who was just plain disinterested in helping homeless moms provide for their families; after all, everyone has been inspired by their (or another) mom, has known someone in extreme financial need, or has witnessed the strain of life’s problems on children and their parents.  However, a lot of people aren’t able to make a huge monetary contribution and don’t have the time to go shopping for all the household items needed by a homeless mother.  One thing I learned during Movers for Moms is that you have to be willing to work with each person and business owner you speak with to find practical ways they can help.  For example, Holiday Inn Express by the airport was able to donate a whole case of bar soaps that they already had on hand for their hotel rooms.  A realtor from the Re\Max office in East Nashville had her husband donate a bunch of Germ-X, because he works for their manufacturer.  And the Brentwood Oaks apartment manager spread the word that we can use any unused household goods or women’s clothing as gifts to the shelter.  Even the people who just went down to the local dollar store and purchased a 4-pack of toothbrushes contributed to the 850 items we were able to collect; I just had to talk with them a little further to find the best way they could contribute.

3. Word-of-mouth goes a looong way.

For the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, I asked our Customer Service Representatives to tell their customers about the Movers for Moms campaign.  In the first week that they started talking about the event, we had two boxes full of collected household gifts from people who were moving and didn’t want to take clothing they’d never worn or furniture items they didn’t need anymore.  I also was able to get a bunch of my friends to make donations just by talking about my workday and the Mother’s Day project I was working on.  It was so easy for someone to let us know they had a bunch of extra hand soaps in their bathroom cabinet or an unopened soccer ball in their garage, and I was able to gather those donations just by telling my friends about this event that I was passionate about.

The Safe Haven staff was so excited about working with us, and we can’t wait for the next opportunity to support their families!

Meet Stephen, The Tetris King

StephenStephen is one of our Moving Supervisors, and today is his 2 year anniversary with Two Men and a Truck Nashville!  To celebrate, we’ll spend today’s whole blog post just talking about him.

Before working at Two Men Nashville, Stephen worked at a hole-in-the-wall bar and Cracker Barrel.  Looking for more steady work, Stephen came over to our team and immediately took off.  He was promoted to a Team Lead position within just four months.  When I asked him how he managed to do so well so quickly, he told me that it was his customer service experiences at the two restaurants.  He learned early how to solve difficult customer situations, and it gave him a love for problem-solving.  In fact, he’s so great at problem-solving and strategic thinking that he’s known around here as the Tetris King (a reference to his uncanny ability to maximize truck space when loading furniture into our trucks).

Stephen says that he’s stayed with Two Men Nashville for so long because he enjoys seeing the variety of types of homes when he works out in the field.  He likes traveling to different Nashville neighborhoods and seeing the wide array of furniture that people use to decorate their homes.

But even though he thinks the work is fun, Stephen is the first to admit how challenging it’s been for him to work as a mover.  He tells me about one job during his first six months here when he was “out until like, 3 am.  We had two crews working on this move, and we still didn’t get back to the office until 3:30.”

More recently, Stephen was assigned to a job that required him and his partner to move a family’s belongings into their new home while construction workers were still working all over the property.  “We had three crews and three packed trucks to unload, and it took us about twelve hours to finish the job.  And it took all six of us to move this grand piano from the 1800’s into the house…”  At this point, I interrupt him, confused, because we have a policy that we won’t move grand pianos.  He laughs, “That’s why!  We had to call the general manager to the unload site to help me move it into the house, and then the legs starting sinking into the hardwood floor.  So we had to turn it on its side and wait for the customers to get the materials necessary for the piano to stand on, and then we had to turn it back over and put the whole thing back together again.”

Happy 2 year anniversary, Stephen!

Two Men Mishaps

We’ve all had one of those ideas that seemed great in theory, but that didn’t work out very well in practice.  The best way to handle those moments is to turn them into funny stories, and we have plenty of those!  Here are some of the funniest fails we’ve had here at the office:

IMG_0698The Breaking Chains

For the safety of our customers’ belongings, and just for security purposes, our trucks used to have these big padlocks on the back so they couldn’t be opened by anyone but our personnel.  However, those locks didn’t attach directly to the doors of the truck, so they were easily misplaced.  To solve that problem, we decided to install new, state-of-the-art locks that would be permanently attached to the doors.  But when they were installed, the locksmith didn’t take the strength of our movers into account.  “When they reached up to pull the doors down, they accidentally grabbed the locks instead of the pull strap.  The chains just snapped apart in their hands,” Nick told me.  Now Nick keeps one of the broken lock chains under his desk as inspiration for all of his future planning initiatives.

‘Meet Your Movers’ Facebook Campaign

We thought it would be awesome to give our customers a personal bio of our movers so they could see the human side of the men who help them during their moves.  Our managers came up with a fun questionnaire to give to the movers in an effort to let our Facebook followers get to know them a little better.  I asked our General Manager, Nick, about the types of questions that were asked.  He gave an example of one, which asked the movers, “If you could be any person in the world, who would you want to be?”  I thought that was a fun question in theory, but “one guy said a tiger,” Nick told me.  Our Customer Service Manager, Donald, added that “another one said Betty White.”  Needless to say, the questionnaires didn’t end up on Facebook in the end.

The Fire-Juggling Mover

Our managers and move supervisors decide which movers to pair with each moving job based on the movers’ individual strengths and skill sets.  Eventually, the movers become known in the office for their strengths; Joe is great at working with new employees, Keith is known for his positivity, and Steve never leaves a square inch of the trucks empty.  But we have one former mover who isn’t remembered for his awesome work in the field…  We remember him because he always bragged about his side job: fire-juggling.  “He was a street performer,” Nick told me, “and he would juggle these lit torches outside of night clubs.”IMG_0697

Halloween 2014

One of Two Men’s organizational goals is to make all of its employees feel like a team of friends.  Part of the way that our managers accomplish that is by celebrating the holidays in the office.  Last year, we had a Secret Santa with each other for Christmas, and Nick even let the office staff dress up for Halloween.  But the Halloween plan kind of backfired.  “I was the only one who ended up dressing up,” Nick said.  Our CSR Supervisor, Joe, laughed when Nick told the story, and remembered, “He dressed up in a full muscle suit as Hulk Hogan.  It was awesome.”

At least we can laugh at ourselves!

3 Questions You Asked Us AFTER Your Move

Lea  Whenever you move with Two Men and a Truck, you’ll receive an email after your move asking you to rate us in different categories.  If you choose to fill out one of those Reply Cards, you can type up any additional comments you have instead of just giving us numeric ratings.  We LOVE hearing your feedback about specific movers or office staff who did a great job for you!  We also love getting the chance to improve on our service and address any concerns you had during your move.  In this blog post, we’ll answer three questions that we received through Reply Cards from the past three months.

1.  My final moving cost was less/more than the estimate you gave over the phone.  What’s your process for giving estimates?

Every moving company has a different method for their pricing, so this is definitely a valid question to ask!  Because every move is different in terms of location, types of items being moved, and quantity of boxes, our price ends up being a combination of (a) a one-time, flat service fee that covers mileage and the equipment needed for your move, and (b) an hourly cost for the time of your move that is pro-rated by 15-minute increments (so if your move takes an hour and fifteen minutes, you’ll only be charged for the hour and fifteen minutes, not a full two hours).

To come up with your estimate, we first find the service fee based on the distance from your load and unload locations to our office.  Then we ask you some questions about the type of move we’ll be completing to give you an estimate of the number of hours it will take to complete your move.  To be sure we give you an accurate estimate, we always encourage our customers to give us as much information as possible about the approximate number of boxes that will be moved, the furniture items and appliances, and the square footage of the load and unload locations.  We want to be sure our estimates are as accurate as possible, so we do require an on-site estimate for extremely large moves.  However, you’re always welcome to request an on-site estimate for a better idea of your total moving costs if you’re afraid that the phone estimate won’t be exact enough.

2.  I feel like my move could have been completed in less time than your movers used.  Why did it take them so long?

Our movers do definitely take more time than some of your other moving options, and the reason is that we offer a lot more in our moving services than other companies do.  We’re the only company in Nashville that takes the extra time to give complimentary padding and wrapping of every furniture item because we work hard to unload your items in the same condition they were in when we loaded them.  Additionally, our movers are trained to work as quickly as they can at a steady pace.  If they anticipate that a move will take longer than a few hours, our men work at a steady pace to conserve energy for the unload.  Finally, our movers really hate to mess up your walls, doors, or other furniture, so they’ll take more caution when maneuvering through awkward or tight spaces.

3.  I had a damaged item at the end of my move.  How can I get you to take care of it?

Unfortunately, even though we take as much care as we can with moves, everyone does make mistakes.  We know how frustrating it can be to trust someone with your things and have something come back scratched or with something missing.  Our movers will let you know if they’re aware of a damage that occurs during the move, and they’ll help you fill out a damage report at the time that you finish your billing paperwork at the end of the move.  However, be sure to look over your furniture and home again once the movers leave, because we do accept damage reports from you through email or over the phone if you find something we missed during the 3 days following your move.

Once we see pictures of the damage and read the report, we’ll get a professional out there to make repairs.  If we aren’t able to repair the item for you, we’ll pay you more than the industry standard to compensate you for the damage.  We’re always more than glad to fulfill our end of the bargain.

Thanks for the feedback, Nashville!  We’ll always work to give you the best quality move.

Meet Nick, Our Manager

IMG_0586Five years ago, our current manager Nick started working here as a Customer Service Representative.  “I was a general manager for another company, and I was looking for a new opportunity,” he explains.

He didn’t see himself staying with Two Men in the long term, but he was already familiar with the furniture industry.  I asked him what convinced him that this would turn into a long-term career.  “I liked how we helped people.  About a month after I first started, the big Nashville floor happened.  We dedicated a lot of our trucks to flood relief and only charged half our normal rate.  I liked that we went the extra mile to help people.”  Nick tells me that his favorite part about working here is the fact that “we make people’s day.  Moving is the most stressful time of people’s lives, because they’ll be in the middle of a house closing, or eight months pregnant, or in a bad situation.  We get to go in there and give them a sense of ease during that time.”

And after being here for five years, Nick has seen every type of situation.  He tells me a story about a move from last year when two men were working on moving a company out of its old office building.  The movers called him to let him know that the move was going to take longer than originally estimated, so Nick said they would have to finish the rest of the move the next day.  Unfortunately, moving the next day wasn’t an option…  “The company’s staff hadn’t told us there were bulldozers on the way to demolish their building.”  Nick said they were only able to finish the move because he had every mover go to the building when they finished their earlier jobs.  “They didn’t finish the move until almost midnight.”

Another time, Nick had already left the office to go home when two moving teams called him from a customer’s storage unit.  “There were two trucks at a storage unit after hours, so you had to punch in a code to get the gate to open.  The woman left during the middle of the move, so the guys were locked in.  They were asking me what to do because she wasn’t answering their phone calls or text messages.”  Nick joked that they would have to sleep in the back of the trucks that night on the furniture pads.  “The guy on the phone didn’t know I was joking, and he started panicking on the other end of the phone because he needed to get home to his wife.”  But it all worked out okay…  “About twenty minutes later, the woman called back and got them out of there.”

Meet Joe, Our Resident Philosophy Expert

IMG_0615If you call us to schedule a move or get a quote, you may end up on the phone with our Customer Service Supervisor, Joe.  After Joe finished his philosophy degree, he came to our team to work as a Dispatcher because he had a friend working here.  Once his manager, Nick, saw how well he worked with the movers, he was asked to train as a Customer Service Representative as well.  “He always had a smile on his face,” Nick says.  “And he’s sincere.  He asks the guys how their day is going, and he wants to know the answer.”  As the Customer Service team grew, Joe was promoted to work in his current supervisor role.

Even though Joe went to school for philosophy, he’s stayed with the company for almost a year now because of the people who work with him.  “I don’t care what kind of work I’m doing, as long as I’m part of a good team,” he tells me.  His favorite part of the team to work with are the movers and drivers of the company.  He explains, “There’s a code of conduct there that’s not the same in an office setting.”

On the weekends, Joe spends his time working with the youth ministry of St. Catherine’s church south of Nashville, in Columbia.  He’s been working with the youth for five years now, and his dedication has paid off.  The program started with three kids, and the attendance rate has since improved significantly.  Joe has been able to take the youth on out-of-state trips for the first time in twenty years, and he’s also implemented a volunteer mentor program with the college students.  He explains, “Kids who are now in college will come back and serve as mentors for the new youth in the program.”

Before Joe goes to inspect one of the trucks that has just come back to the office from a move, he tells me one more story about his experiences here at Two Men.  “On my third day here, they got a new chair for the Dispatch office.  I assembled the whole chair, and then I looked in the box…  I’d forgotten the one piece that would bring it up to the correct desk height.  I couldn’t get the chair to come back apart after that, so I actually had to call the customer service line to ask them how to take the metal pieces apart and fix the chair,” he tells me, laughing.  “This happened when everyone else was gone during lunch, and I had it all put back together before they got back.”

Happy Earth Day! Here’s How We’re Celebrating

Today is Earth Day!  We wanted to put together a blog post about everything we’re doing to celebrate this year, but we realized that we actually try to use environmentally-friendly systems every day…not just for Earth Day.  So instead, let me show you all the ways we stay green EVERY day:

E-Info Instead of Paper – Our customers like to see their final billing sheet in physical form when our movers are at their houses, which we totally understand.  However, we try to send as much information as we can through electronic files so we can do our part in saving trees.  We’ll email you a quote, pre-move letter to confirm your move time, and reply card after your move instead of sending those through the mail or faxing that information to businesses.

We use e-crates when we're hired to do packing jobs.

Packing with E-Crates – As you may know, we don’t just move our customers; we also offer packing and unpacking services.  When we pack up your home or office, we use these plastic bins called e-crates as often as we can instead of using cardboard boxes.  This way, you don’t have to throw away a ton of cardboard at the end of your move.

Rental TV Boxes – Whenever we move someone who hasn’t kept their TV’s original box, we rent them a reusable television box that we can also use with future customers.

Keeping Night-time Dark – Many businesses like to keep their lights on all night long to reduce the risk of a robbery.  Instead, we just lock our doors and have security cameras.  Our last employee always switches off the lights at night.

Recycling – We keep our information secure and recycle at the same time!  We toss unneeded papers into a bin that gets picked up by a shredding company.  After our papers are shredded, they’re recycled instead of thrown away.

Tree Huggers – Recently, we planted some new trees along the side of our building.  We like to keep our air fresh and clean!

These furniture pads are made of cloth, not of disposable materials like paper.

Furniture Pads – Instead of using disposable paper pads when we pack your furniture into our trucks, we use reusable cloth pads.  (In addition to being eco-friendly, these reusable pads also keep your furniture safer!)

Speed Packs – We’ll keep some “speed packs” in every truck for your move.  Speed packs are reusable, heavy-duty boxes that we use for your unstack-able, larger items (such as large toys that can’t be packed into normal boxes).  These help us make your move faster, and save cardboard boxes from being wasted.

Have a Happy Earth Day, and let us know what your business is doing to be green!