News Column

Move-in day help at hand with company that that recruits an all-student workforce

August 8, 2014

By Michael Reschke, Herald-Times, Bloomington, Ind.

Aug. 08--When Cameron Doody was in college at Auburn University he saw people moving a lot. Most people needed help but they didn't have enough stuff or the budget to justify hiring a moving company. So every fall students would offer beer and pizza to their strongest friends and hope for the best.

"It was a giant issue with no solution," he said.

It would take a few years, but eventually he and his co-founder came up with a solution. After graduating from Auburn in 2009 they started working in the banking industry but eventually got tired of the daily grind. They went to a cabin in the woods and vowed not to sleep until they came up with an idea. Before their heads hit their pillows Bellhops was born. Well, at least the initial idea.

That was 2011. Since securing their first round of seed money in 2012 Bellhops, in its current form, really started in 2013 and grew into a company with operations in 121 cities and 42 states, according to Doody said they contract with more than 8,000 students and they've recently expanded to Indiana University.

"Bloomington is an awesome market for us with the university there," he said.

There are currently about 100 Indiana University students who have signed up to work for Bellhops, said Ryan Opal, campus director. Doody said Bellhops targets student athletes, Reserve Officer Training Corps members and campus clubs in their recruitment.

Opal, a communications major entering his junior year, is a member of IU's ultimate Frisbee club. He said he got an email about the job in April. After a going through an application process and a video interview he was hired. After he watched a series of training videos covering everything from customer service to the fundamentals of moving he was ready to help as students left town for the summer.

That was easy because people throw a lot of things away when they're moving out, but now that students are moving in, everything they have needs to get into their new abodes. Opal is happy to help, though. He does a few jobs himself, but his main responsibility is recruitment and right now he needs all the help he can get.

"We're starting to get flooded with jobs right now," he said.

Those jobs come through the company's website and smartphone app. Anyone looking for small-scale moving help can calculate an estimate based on where they're moving, how much time they think it will take and how many bellhops they think they'll need.

Once a job is entered into the system, bellhops in the area will get pinged through the app on their smartphones. From there it's simply first come first serve, which Doody said is perfect for college students.

"They work only if and when they want," he said. "The bellhop isn't frustrated that they have to be at work because they chose to be there."

Once the job is filled, customers will get a picture of their bellhop and learn what they're studying in school. When the bellhops arrive they clock in and out on their smartphones. The customer gets a text to verify the total work time.

Doody said Bellhops is a zero-asset company, but they have relationships with trucking companies across the country. In Bloomington they have a partnership with Uhaul and customers can claim a truck for a local move through the Bellhops website or app.

"The captain of the move will grab the truck and be waiting at the site so the customer won't have to deal with Uhaul," Opal said, explaining the captain is the bellhop who accepts the job first.

Prices vary, but for an example, Opal said a two-hour move for a small apartment that requires two bellhops and a Uhaul would cost about $80.

On the other side of the coin bellhops typically make either $13 an hour or $15 if they're the captain. They can also accept tips, which is an incentive that keeps them working hard, Opal said.

"Tips are big," he said. "Our guys really understand that and go above and beyond."

As for liability, moves are licensed and insured, according to the Bellhops website. Under the honor code heading, the website also promises a partial refund if a customer thinks a job should have taken less time than it did or if something is damaged, "A check is already on the way."

"I've not had either of those problems yet here," Opal said.

The other way Bellhops is held accountable is through the reviews each customers is prompted to fill out after using the company. Doody said Bellhops has a 95 percent customer satisfaction rating.

"That proves people enjoy working with college students," he said. "When they see students who are hungry to work it's enjoyable because they're not your typical movers."


Now operating in 121 cities, including Bloomington

The company exclusively employs college students as movers but anyone looking for small-scale moving can hire Bellhops for a job.

Customers decide when they want to move by booking on the company's website or smartphone app. Movers pick what jobs they want.

For more information, go to or download the smartphone app.


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Source: Herald-Times (Bloomington, IN)

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