If you’re good at household organization and like to socialize, becoming a Senior Move Manager (SMM) might be for you.
What is an SMM?
An SMM helps older individuals relocate and (usually) downsize their belongings. Oftentimes, this involves helping a senior citizen move into an assisted care facility or other senior residence. The issue faced with such an undertaking is that there are a number of logistics involved, including the following:
- Consolidating/reducing current belongings
- Packing and transporting current belongings
- Cleaning, repairing and staging the current residence
- Finding a realtor and selling current residence
- Finding a suitable new residence
- Organizing movers and moving remaining belongings
- Unpacking belongings and organizing belongings in new residence
Oftentimes, the family of the senior citizen undertakes such tasks; however, that is an ideal situation where family members live nearby and don’t have extremely tight schedules. When such a situation is lacking, the senior citizen may delay moving, or not move at all. This is not always ideal, especially if that senior has physical and/or memory issues that progress with time.
To this end, there are SMMs who step in and take care of house staging and selling, estate sales, moving, etc. They are paid by the hour and can specialize in a very discrete area of the move, such as consolidating belongings, or they can get involved in all aspects of senior moving.
Your actual SMM tasks may not be what you imagined…
You might be assuming that, as an SMM, you’ll be involved in a lot of back-breaking labor like moving couches or cleaning behind refrigerators. You may also be assuming that, as an SMM, you’ll be spending long weekends away from your home organizing knick knacks and pricing items for an estate sale.
In actuality, the role of the SMM is more of a manager of movers, cleaning crews, realtors, etc. Your primary goal as an SMM is oftentimes to simply convince the senior citizen that it’s in her best interest to move. Alternately, the client you are working with may be ready to go, but simply can’t decide how he will part with his extensive collection of art prints or trains or antique teapots.
To this end, your best work will often be performed by simply listening to your client and offering helpful suggestions. Remember that, as an SMM, you are not the POA or the family of the client. Thus, the hard task of consolidating precious heirlooms or keepsakes will not be for you to complete. However, in coordination with the family or the client, you can offer suggestions such as donating some items to charity, placing them into storage, or taking photos of the heirloom collections and displaying those photos instead of the actual items.
For many SMMs, the work is more a calling than just another job. You will be called upon to be not only a manager but a listener and even a counselor. You might form close friendships with some of your clients or their families. As with caregiving, the clients you work with will depend on you for guidance and assurance as they transition from homes they may have been in for over half a century. Thus, it pays to have a caring heart and a sympathetic ear.
How much money do SMMs make?
In some states, SMMs are able to charge from $40-$125 per hour. If you choose to work with an established franchise, the basic starting rate is $9/hour but quickly increases with training and experience. Overall, you’re better off starting your own franchise and hiring people as you advance in experience and number of clients.
Where can you learn more about being an SMM?
Just like with most work-at-home professions, SMMs can undergo training from a variety of organizations on the nuances of getting started, networking, marketing their services and pricing services accordingly. There are at least four well-known online resources:
NASMM– The National Association of Senior Move Managers is a trade association that offers not only education and training on becoming a SMM, but even a yearly conference. The NASMM also operates an accreditation program that reviews other SMM companies and accredits them accordingly.
Caring Transitions– This outfit operates in 35 states and has 116 franchise locations in the USA and Canada. With CT, you can launch your SMM business in just six weeks and start marketing to area nursing homes, hospitals and senior centers. Best of all, the training and work can be conducted from home.
Smooth Transitions– The ST organization operates offices in 26 states as well as Canada and New Zealand and is both a training center and license provider for people who are starting their own SMM businesses. With Smooth Transitions, you can get a head start with your SMM business, download workbooks, learn about setting your rates, and lots more. In exchange for this know-how, you’ll pay a start-up and licensee fee to ST. You can also purchase your NASMM membership at a discounted price on their website.
eSMMART– This organization conducts training of new SMMs, as well as certification of SMMs who have been in the business and conducted at least 40 invoiced moves. eSMMART offers lots of useful courses on topics like dementia, hoarding, aging in place, and the senior living industry in both the USA and Canada.
How much does it cost to get trained?
The training sites that specifically state how much training and licensing will cost estimate around $5,000 total. While this is a pricey sum, keep in mind that the senior population is booming, and there is a very real need for people to help seniors.
Summary: Should you consider being an SMM?
If you like working with seniors and consider yourself to be a good negotiator, you will likely thrive in this arena and make a decent living too. In time, you might even outsource your tasks to employees and function in a more business lead generator role. While being an SMM does take some training as well as patience, the rewards (monetary and otherwise) can be worth it.