real estate
Couple's new business helps seniors pack up possessions

June 2, 2010
Las Vegas, NV

When Stephen and Francine Fields help seniors make a change in living arrangements, they like to do it as smoothly as possible.

Stephen has had experience managing moves and estate sales. When he and his wife decided they wanted to transition into a career that used their strengths, senior move management was the first thing that came to mind.

"I went on the Internet looking," Francine said. "I combined his skills with my experience in property management and real estate and came up with senior move management."

To them, this seemed like a smart decision. Francine said she read an article that named Las Vegas as one of the top destinations to which baby boomers retire. With the amenities of Sun City Anthem for senior populations, adopting a business that catered to the community seemed smart.

The Fieldses then discovered Smooth Transitions and became a licensee.

"We are not a franchise," Francine said. "We are independently owned and operated. We were incorporated in October and began business in January."

Stephen knew that he and Francine could operate a business such as Smooth Transitions on their own but decided he would rather be part of a larger organization.

"Why reinvent the wheel?" Stephen asked. "As a licensee, we gain a national network."

Smooth Transitions co-owner Francine Fields loads a customer's clothing onto hangers in preparation for a move to an assisted living facility.

Smooth Transitions co-owner Francine Fields and her employee Vell Johnson prepare a customer?s belongings for a move to an assisted living facility.

Smooth Transitions helps seniors make moving arrangements, pack their possessions, unpack, decorate, set up estate sales, haul trash, find a business to clean their home if they moved, change utilities, ship items to family members, orchestrate the moving day and organize their house.

"We do as much or as little as people want us to do," Francine said.

Karen Andrews was referred to Smooth Transitions when her mother had to transition from independent living at Las Ventanas, a retirement community, to assisted living.

"They helped take care of a lot of the details," Andrews said. "The complicated part (of the move) is her stuff is going so many different places. Some of the stuff is going to my mother's new apartment. Some of the stuff is going to my house, and some is going to my son's house. To have a company to take care of all the details is wonderful."

For Andrews, Smooth Transitions is orchestrating all aspects of the move.

The Fieldses knew they would have a thriving business; however, they were pleasantly surprised at the amount of work they have received.

"We expected to do a move a week," Francine said, "maybe four or five moves a month. Now, sometimes we do six or seven a week. Our business is operating as though we have been around for years, not months."

Francine said they have never had to turn a client down, and they are able to be both efficient and successful with all moves.

Even though the ideal time frame for the Fieldses to work is about a week, there have been times when they were asked to help on short notice. One time, Francine received only 45 minutes notice that a client needed help.

"We were able to get a moving truck out there in 45 minutes," Francine said. "We never turn anyone down."

They have even had times when they were told the house was packed and just needed to be moved. However, upon arriving, they discovered otherwise.

"Nothing was packed," Stephen said. "So what was supposed to be a four-hour job turned into seven. But being in this industry, you have to have that type of patience. We are here to earn a living, but we are also here to bring compassion to people."

The Fieldses know they are good at what they do, but it isn't always just business.

"Sometimes you get attached to the people you are working with," Francine said. "If we go out to dinner after a move, we might take the person out with us. They become part of our family."

Stephen knows people are trusting him to take care of a lifetime's worth of memories in the form of houses, antiques and memorabilia. Knowing that, he has to have a different mindset when connecting with customers.

He also knows that his clients often are dealing with a rough transition.

"Seniors have a lot of apprehension and fear when moving," Stephen said. "The first stage of the move is addressing the fear."

Once the fear is addressed and trust is secured, the Fieldses help their clients rearrange their lives.

The standard rate for their services is $50 an hour per person. The Fieldses usually charge for only two people even though they often use three or four to help in the moving process.

"Some people can't afford everything," Stephen added.

For information about Smooth Transitions, call 656-2007 or visit movingforseniors.com.

Contact Henderson and Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.

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