Date archives "May 2013"

What Kind of Car Are You?

Cars are more than transportation; they are metaphors for a thousand life lessons. Similarly, car brands denote meaning way beyond the attributes of the make and model.  So if you were to pick the car brand that most represents who you are as a person, what would it be? Me, I think I’m a Honda Accord or a Subaru Forrestor. Perhaps I don’t see myself correctly; I might be an Audi. I am too much of a risk-taker to be a Volvo, and  too practical to be a Porsche or a BMW.

people in cars

I’ve often used the images people have of certain brands to convey concepts of value to clients. I might describe certain movers as a Kia (basic, dependable no-frills moving) or a Lexus (high quality, cuts-no-corners moving). People seem to get this approach. I use this tactic when discussing Moving Solutions charges, as well. “We’ve never tried to be the Kia of Senior Move Managers. We’re not the Lexus either. We’re more of a Honda or a Toyota.” I figure Lexus seems extravagant, too luxurious (and our charges are lower than many of our colleagues). I don’t want to suggest that we’re the lowest cost option either, because we’re not. If people want the Kia of Senior Move Managers, they will need to look elsewhere.

Cars lend themselves to other analogies as well. When discussing staging or preparing a home for sale, I ask, “What was the first thing you did when you decided to sell your car? You cleaned it inside and out. What about decals on the windows, cushions for your back, holders for your coffee cup, doo-dads hanging from your rear view mirror? You got rid of them. You did this because you knew that potential buyers were interested in the car, not in how you used the car. And when you removed those items in order to sell your car, you didn’t take it personally. It was business. Preparing your home for sale is the same thing. It’s not personal; it’s a business decision. After all, you’re not selling a used house. You’re selling a luxury, pre-owned domicile.” The car analogy here makes sense, it’s simple, people get it.

Recently, we’ve gone to the car metaphor again, with introduction of the Moving Solutions “Apartment Tune Up.” Your car gets a tune up every 5,000 miles to make sure it’s in good shape — what about your home or apartment? People accept that keeping a vehicle in good working order requires maintenance. A home or apartment is no different, and  it’s not just your mechanical system; it’s your kitchen system, closet system, filing system and circulation system too. These are the “systems” you use as you live in your home. Over time, things change, so your home systems need to be checked, tweaked, revised. Hence, the apartment tune-up.

I’m not sure what our next car metaphor will be. Right now, I am looking forward to the fall issue of Car and Driver. I need to read about road tests and new models to see if I will change my personal or corporate car brand. Perhaps I will evolve into a luxury hybrid. It sounds so right for an aging baby boomer.

Stop Warehousing Your Kids’ Stuff

stuffKobe Bryant’s mother is trying to auction off old high school stuff he left in her house, and Bryant is trying to stop her. Bryant contends that the things belong to him; his mom says he left them there and said he didn’t want them. She wants to use the $450,000 advance from the auction house to buy a new home. Is this argument really about money? Surely Bryant has enough money to purchase multiple homes for his mother. Whichever side of the controversy you stand on, it points out a common problem. Depending on your age, chances are you are either warehousing stuff that belongs to your grown children, or you’ve left stuff in your parents’ home. 

What kinds of things get left? Based on the thousands of people we’ve helped downsize and move, it varies, but there are common themes. Sports paraphernalia are a big category, especially trophies and equipment.  So are school things: old papers, projects and textbooks. Old clothing, hobbies, musical instruments and childhood toys are kept too. Wedding dresses are especially common, even when the marriage has ended. As one client put it, “My daughter has been divorced twice. She got rid of both the husbands and I am left with both wedding dresses.”

Truth be told, our household was no different. One son left camping equipment, Pinewood Derby cars and other residue of his years in scouting. My daughter left every spelling test she had ever taken, and my youngest left t-shirts and sports trophies, including Continue reading