Owners of small cars can rejoice: A new instant-gratification business similar to Amazon’s Prime Now and Postmates has landed.
PICKUP, a smartphone-friendly mini-moving service, has expanded to the Bayou City from Dallas-Fort Worth. With a few taps, Houstonians can now summon a Good Guy, as the PICKUP drivers are called, to their house to haul almost anything: furniture, boxes that need to go to storage, maybe something you can’t quite get your hands around by yourself. Say, a huge plant?
“We moved an 8-foot cactus the other day,” says PICKUP’s founder Brenda Stoner.
What also makes this instant delivery service a little different: It hires military veterans, off-duty firefighters, and other off-duty public-service employees with pickup trucks who want to earn a little extra income on the side (and who can pass a background check).
When a request is made via the PICKUP app, website (pickupnow.com), or toll-free number (800) 560-2168, the nearest driver to your location will be summoned to transport whatever you desire, from bulky appliances to landscaping materials – Ever spill mulch in the trunk of your car?
They'll move just about anything that fits in the back of a pickup truck and that is valued at less than $20,000, which is the cap for insurance. So you’ll have to find another way to move your Ming Vase collection. But if you want to donate your old upright piano to the local church? PICKUP can handle it.
After a year in Dallas-Fort Worth area, PICKUP was ready to expand to Houston. Stoner considers this is a good experimental market for PICKUP.
“The anti-zoning mentality of Houston, where you’ve got residential, commercial and retail in pockets of the city, seems to be ideal for an on-demand service,” says Stoner, who started this business with herself, her boyfriend and a pickup truck. As of now, PICKUP has about two-dozen drivers in the Houston area.
Assembly, if needed
The minimum price for the service is $45. Extra charges included go to cover things like mileage and time spent. The drivers can also help with assembly, if needed.
“We’ve assembled a lot of bunk beds from IKEA,” said Stoner.
Expect one truck and one driver; if you need more help than that, you’ll have to ask for it specifically. Don't need to move anything with a truck? Just want help schlepping a heavy bookcase from downstairs to upstairs? PICKUP drivers can assist with that too, with the "Labor Only" option.
Good Guys can be Girls
Incidentally, Good Guys can also be girls. In fact, Stoner is known in the company as the Chief Good Guy. She remarks, “We had our first girl qualify this week.”
“Also, I’m a single mother,” she pressed, “so I would not put a driver on our platform who I would not have in my own home.”
As such, potential PICKUP Good Guys have to go through 30 different checks, including phone interviews, in-person interviews, background checks and an assessment of the truck. Choosing military vets and firefighters does help streamline the process, though. “They bring their own culture; they’re kind, careful and courteous. When they’re looking for part-time work, leveraging that capability is a natural fit.”
And what about that fingerprinting huff that drove Über out of Austin? Stoner says PICKUP is able to operate comfortably within the city and state regulatory environments thus far, and it helps that her business doesn’t transport people or animals. Besides, when you’re hiring public servants, their fingerprints are most likely available already.
“They’ve been vetted by federal and state authorities,” Stoner notes. “Beginning with a good crop of people is a good place to start.”
Tuxedos to Teddy Bears
Since PICKUP went live in Dallas, the items they’ve been asked to transport range from a wedding-day tuxedo to a truck-sized teddy bear. But mostly, they move furniture and, says Stoner, “a lot of potted plants. For people who’ve moved houses and have big urns by the pool – the last thing or weird things you need to move that require trust and care and attention. Things you want to move yourself or that you wouldn’t move at all.”
Meanwhile, PICKUP is looking to grow their pool of Houston-area drivers. Got a pickup truck? “We’re looking for Good Guys,” Stoner said. “We’re trying to make living wage opportunities for some of the best guys that are out there.”