Integrity and respect are the cornerstone of Kate Fitzpatrick’s company, Moving On. It doesn’t simply help to pack things and move houses, but also support and cheer people up in process.
Family Loss Sparks Business Idea
Known for her ability to organise things others have either no time for or are too challenging to sort out, Kate Fitzpatrick started Lifestyle Management in 2010: “I did whatever needed to be done, from stocking up the pantry to decorating the Christmas tree to preparing a home for sale to organising a fabulous soiree!” She is also a self-proclaimed champ in turning store-bought lasagna into a homemade-looking dish!
Kate received a phone call from a friend, Fiona. Her mother had passed away. Fiona’s three siblings lived overseas and although they would return briefly for the funeral, she was faced with the task of clearing the property primarily on her own. It was not only too emotional but too big a job. Kate suggested that after the funeral Fiona and her siblings go through the property and remove any important papers, precious jewellery and so on, then decide what they each wanted to take and what they wanted to sell or give away.
“I came in with my team and we took over. Everything was sorted fairly quickly without any stress to anyone and the goods distributed to overseas and various dealers,” says Kate. “Everyone was happy and stress-free and I really felt I had made such a big difference. It was more than a physical and logistical job—it often required emotional support which is totally understandable as it was a fragile time.”
In 2013, Kate found herself in the same situation when her mother died.
“My mother was very lucky, she had six adoring daughters,” Kate recalls. “She was well-loved and when we had the job of packing up her life it was a privilege.”
It was the support from her sisters that made Kate realise how important the clearing and packing up of a life is.
“I remembered stopping and thinking, ‘Imagine if you didn’t have anyone to do this?’ Often there is no one to assist and support people during this very vulnerable and emotional process. No matter how big or small a life is, it is still an important one. It needs consideration and your clients are putting all their trust in you to do it with respect and honesty. That was really when I recognised that there was an opportunity in the marketplace to bring more to the table.”
Whether it’s moving to a more supported living environment or moving somewhere permanently, it is a very difficult time.
“These people might have just lost a member of a family, or their children live overseas, or they have no children, or their children work full-time and are busy with their own families. Maybe they want to downsize. Either way, they are leaving the life they knew behind, they are saying goodbye to a place and pieces they feel emotionally attached to and where everything is familiar. It’s a moment in life when you need someone respectful and mindful next to you. It is a time where you are at your most vulnerable, dependant on assistance.”
So, Kate rebranded her company as ‘Moving On’, and focused solely on assisting people to move.
Moving People with Integrity
Moving On is not one of those companies that pack your stuff and simply relocate the boxes. Kate’s team prioritises and acknowledges emotions and memories. They take care of the whole process from the free introductory visit to selling items or organising antique dealers’ assessments.
“We don’t have any financial gain from organising all the independent service providers. We just want to make sure our clients connect with the right people. The auctioneers we work with were the third we tried and they are fantastic! The same with the transport – our contractors have great service and understand the level of service we expect. Everyone involved must be as respectful as we are. We take the greatest care and responsibility with our clients memories and belongings and are mindful they are precious no matter what their value.”
Kate’s current team of eight is her main pride. Prior to joining Moving On, they all worked in hospitality or as nurses and caregivers, so they know how to take care of people, not only things.
“Often we will need to declutter before the property goes on the market and then style the property for selling. If the property is sold, often there is no one to assist and support people during the very vulnerable and emotional period. It normally takes them two to three days to pack and relocate everything—way less than it would take a family without any experience. We’re all geared up, we’re used to doing this, we can move mountains in a short amount of time just because we know how to do that.”
The final stage of their work is to unpack and set their clients up in their home and that’s where Kate’s previous job as interior designer comes in really handy. Not surprisingly, Kate often becomes friends with the people she moves.
“I enjoy visiting my former clients and seeing how much they are enjoying their new environment. They remain grateful that I’ve helped them in a tricky situation and I am grateful for them putting their trust in me.”
Retirement Village Challenges
Moving On deals a lot with young couples but most of their clients are people relocating to retirement villages. Needless to say, over the years they have become true experts in organising stress-free moving for the elderly!
“We now know all the traps and pitfalls,” says Kate. “For example, a couple of years ago we were moving a very lovely couple. They had several large pieces of antique furniture that wouldn’t fit in the lift, so the boys had to carry them up four flights of stairs only to realise they couldn’t get them down the hallway and into the doorway. We had to dismantle and then put everything together again. With every job we do, we learn what didn’t work so as to eliminate such challenges next time.”
Kate is a huge promoter of retirement villages. She believes them to be a brilliant concept that has rescued a whole population from loneliness. In a village you can have as much or as little as you want.
Kate is happy to see how the retirement villages evolve and improve in functionality as well. Some of them, for example, used to have very narrow cupboards in a bathroom. “If you really think about it, the older you get—the more drugs and skincare products you use. Obviously, you need more storage space in the bathroom. The same with the kitchen—previously retirement villages used to have those slide out pantries that get extremely heavy when loaded. Not the best solution for an elderly person!
“As each new village is planned, they tweak problems and improve. It is an ever-evolving cycle. It’s truly a pleasure, the work we do, and we always have a lot of laughs with our clients. It’s like real estate agents, it’s all about the fit. When we meet a new client you know straight away if you’re both on the same page. I always say, ‘Don’t worry, you can relax now. We’ll take it from here.’”
Three Important Tips from Kate Fitzpatrick
1. Papers first! Always start by packing important documents and photographs. If something goes wrong, at least they are sorted and won’t get misplaced.
2. Use stickers I always give three sets of stickers to my clients. This is for items of furniture or larger items. Green is for things to take; red for things to sell or auction; and yellow is for things that go to family or charity. Place stickers on everything! It makes identifying when packing so much easier.
3. Love your belongings! This is the piece of advice I love to practise. When packing up, we often find grandma’s long-forgotten silver cutlery or dinner set tucked away in the dining room alongside the crystal glasses. Stop saving them for a special day or event and start using them everyday! Love them! They are so much nicer to use and enjoy rather than passing them on to a relative who also puts them at the back of the cupboard because they’re precious.