Crystal River, Citrus County, Florida, October 10, 2009
Senior moving companies are on the rise. During the past few years, they have popped up all over the map. One can pay just under $1500 for a 3-day course to be certified as a Senior Transition Specialist. Is this really new, or have they rebranded an age old concept of helping our elders? These companies are charging for services that Auction Businesses and Estate Sale Companies alike have been providing to their older clients for years, but they were doing it out of the goodness of their heart. They didn't know that helping seniors make the transition to assisted living or a relative's home could mean dollar signs. Instead they helped because it was the neighborly thing to do.
Do a google search and the names are endless. Senior Transitions, Caring Transitions, Gentle Transitions, and Mature Movers are just a few. They even have an association: The National Association of Senior Move Managers, a 501-C-3 Not-for-Profit organization.
Why have these companies become necessary? Isn't there anyone who cares about the elderly enough to help them with their move to assisted living or back home to be near their children without being paid for it? Are family members too busy to help them? Don't neighbors help each other anymore? What happened to "Love your neighbor as yourself". Well, there actually are two types of businesses that have been around for ever and a day that have been helping seniors prepare for moving day and most likely they didn't charge them extra. Those businesses are Estate Sale and Auction Companies. Although they may not have specifically advertised this service, for years Auction Houses and Estate Sale Companies alike have been the liaison between clients and their out of town family members to help this transition go smoothly. These businesses have helped sort items, made necessary arrangements, and taken it upon themselves to see that their clients were ready for moving day. Most have left the home void of debris, "broom clean" and ready for a realtor. Many carried unsold items to a local charity.
The liquidators didn't charge for the little extras. The auctioneer or estate sale companies made their profit on the liquidation of the items in the home that were not going to be moved, and not for helping the senior with all the other details.
These "details" can become overwhelming to a client, but are matter-of-fact for liquidators, who move seniors day in and day out. A huge smile or a warm hug from the senior were compensation enough for their assistance. Years later the companies were still reaping additional rewards in the form of word-of-mouth referrals from family, friends, and neighbors who were impressed at the kindness displayed by the liquidators.
The good news is that estate sale companies and auction houses still offer these services, but evidently they haven't been doing a good job of advertising the extras they offer. If they were properly advertising the many ways in which they help their clients, there would have been no room for an industry based solely on helping seniors move. The senior transiton companies are NOT moving companies. Instead they help the senior with the details involved in moving. If an estate sale or auction house is worth their salt, then they are providing the same services, without the extra cost.
Most auctioneers in states such as Florida, with a large population of older residents, will tell you that at least 50 percent of their business involves assisting an elderly widow or widower with their "back up north" or to Assisted Living. They call the estate sale company or auction business because they need to downsize or liquidate their estate. In more than half of those cases, the person who makes the first contact is a relative living in another state. When the out of state relative calls to make arrangements to liquidate their loved ones home, an auction house will give them options. They can either sell the items outright, put them on consignment for an upcoming Antique or Estate Auction, or conduct an estate sale with said items - either at the client's home or in the business' own facility. Whichever method of liquidation is chosen, at this point, the auction business acts as an extension of the out of town family, and does everything they can to put the senior's mind at ease regarding the move. Typically, they go above and beyond what they are contracted to do. Most auctioneers will tell you that if they are hired to liquidate, the sorting and packing of items that will be moved, debris removal and cleaning the home once its vacant, is done for FREE.
Citrus County Auctioneer, Charles Fudge, says, "Our staff has over 100 years of combined experience in liquidating estates, and seniors have made up a good majority of our clientelle. We treat everyone like family. Anyone who calls upon our business will receive help and support from us, and they shouldn't need a moving specialist. We can have a senior packed, unpacked, and settled in assisted living in about 24 hours. The sooner we can get them settled in their new home, the better. We want them to feel "at home" in their new residence right away, and this happens when the things they love surround them. They need to have their medicine in a place they can easily reach. They want the photo of their deceased spouse on their nightstand, and their grandchildren's photo hanging on the wall. We make sure they have the necessities in their refrigerator and their clothes hanging in their closet. If they have a pet, they need to know the new location for keeping the pet food. These little things make a big difference in how quickly they adapt to their new surroundings and we make it happen." He goes on to say, "We treat each move as if the client was our own grandmother, and we keep open lines of communication with the out of town family members. Once the house is emptied, our cleaning crew goes in and gets the house prepared for the realtor or buyer. We've done such a great job over the years that at least 20 percent of our business comes from realtors or word of mouth advertising via friends, relatives, or neighbors of people we've moved. "
Employee Amy Stalker says, "He does this all for FREE because he is a very kind man, with a special place in his heart for the elderly" He has moved more people into assisted living (from start to finish) than she can count, and the only money he makes is the commission on items they sell or profit on items he buys for resale." (His auction business does not charge extra for those needing extra assistance with their liquidation and move.) "He's even personally coordinated a client's move to upstate New York after downsizing the former home, then flew up north to help the gentleman settle into his new residence", adds Amy.
In summary, the services provided by these senior movers is not new, or unique. They've just found a new way to brand an old tradition. It is wonderful that they are providing a service for the elderly, but auctioneers and estate liquidators have been doing the same for decades. Auctioneers and estate sale companies have helped their clients out of kindness, and the specialized senior movers saw a nitch in the market and turned it into a business. Before hiring a specialized company to move your loved one back "home" or to assisted living, find out what "extras" your local auction house or estate sale companies provide when you contract with them to liquidate the contents of the home. You may find that the added expense of a senior moving specialist is not necessary.
For additional information, contact Antique Auctions by Professional Appraisers & Liquidators at 811 US Hwy 19, Crystal River, FL. Their website is http://www.charliefudge.com/ or you can reach them by telephone toll free at 800-542-3877. To find an auctioneer near you visit: www.auctioneers.org/