The real estate business is becoming so service oriented that there will likely come a day when the agent who sells you your new home will provide a moving truck, personally help you pack your belongings and, once the move is complete, tuck you into bed with a kiss on the cheek.
That day isn't here yet. But it's not far off, as evidenced by the latest customer-service brainstorm of the folks at Coldwell Banker-Bishop Realty:
A pair of 2002 Ford E-350 moving trucks, one each for the company's Payson and Pine offices, that are made available free of charge to anyone who buys a home through Coldwell Banker.
"The only thing we ask is that they return it with a full tank," owner/broker Ray Pugel said. "We'll let them take a truck down to Phoenix, to Show Low, to Prescott, to Flagstaff."
There are limits. If you're moving here from Michigan, for instance, "That wouldn't work," Pugel said with a laugh.
"And we do ask our customers not to use a truck for more than three days: one day to get there, one day to load, and one day to get back. That way, more of our other customers can use the trucks, too."
Pugel stumbled upon this functional-billboard concept during a real estate convention in Indiana, where he met a fellow broker who was having great success with it.
"We really thought about it for a year, and then decided to go ahead with it ourselves," Pugel said. "We have our concierge program, which is added value to the customer. And we already hook up the customers' utilities for them or disconnect, depending on what they're doing. We felt like offering the moving trucks was the logical next step in the direction of customer service."
A free moving truck isn't all that Coldwell Banker provides to help its customers on moving day. Each vehicle comes equipped with a dolly and furniture pads, and each is covered by $5 million worth of liability insurance. (Still, drivers must carry their own insurance.)
So far, Pugel and his agents have only had time to offer the trucks to clients who already had homes in escrow through Coldwell Banker. According to that select group, Pugel has a hit on his hands. "One of the trucks has only been out there for ten days, and it's already been used five times," he said. "The other truck is getting the artwork put on it today (Wednesday), so we're hoping it will be available by Friday.
"I've already gotten thank-you notes from all of the customers who have used the service. They just love it."
And there you have the secret to Coldwell Banker's success, Pugel said. "Service and making customers happy is the key to getting clients to keep coming back, and to keep recommending you to their friends."
Of course, service to community isn't a bad idea, either, and Pugel has that base covered, too.
"The vehicles, by the way, are also available to charitable organizations at no charge if they need to move something," he said.
The next thing you know, Ray Pugel will be tucking you into bed with a kiss on the cheek.