05 Oct

Blog content coming soon on Horizontal vs Vertical Murphy Beds.

Let’s talk about what it takes to become a maverick in the world of small business, how to identify a need, fulfill it, maximize its potential and growing… adapting to changes… manifesting a vision. 

When IKEA moved to Chicago in 2004, nobody advertised a professional furniture assembly service. The future owner of BIG Helpers knew instinctively that the arrival of IKEA would create a demand for such a service given his own experiences working in retail as a teen. When he was 16 (in the '90s) he worked for an office supply store. Customers would often purchase a desk or chair or filing cabinet, but they had no idea how to assemble the items. They would offer him anywhere from $50 - $100 to assemble furniture for them and he developed a particular talent for those tasks. Given the sudden demand for such services when IKEA opened in 2005, he decided to create BIG Helpers to meet the needs of people in search of furniture assembly in Chicago. 

When BIG Helpers arrived on the scene, furniture assembly proved to be a very popular service indeed. However, the owner had an even grander vision - he strove to create a resource for people to receive all types of personal labor services from running errands to maid services, even shopping services, in addition to furniture assembly and handyman services. He foresaw the idea of Instacart and DoorDash about 10 years before those companies were ever conceived. And being the first company to advertise furniture assembly services, BIG Helpers literally pioneered furniture assembly as an industry in Chicago.

Being a pioneer comes with much trial and error to discover what works best. The fledgling business had to learn the hard way as it moved forward and forged its own path and identity. When BIG Helpers opened, they would do just about anything to earn an income and develop a loyal customer base. They soon learned that there were too many variables involved with shopping for people and running errands. In the years before apps simplified this process, they had to deal with matters like handling customers who were dissatisfied with alternate selections chosen when stores were out of a given brand or item, for example. BIG Helpers eventually phased out the errand and shopping services to focus on what earned the most money and brought back the most recurring customers. This turned out to be cleaning and handyman services, in addition to the ever-popular furniture assembly services. 

While BIG Helpers found that maid services brought in steady customers and allowed them to grow exponentially, it would be hallway cleaning that proved to be a bigger ticket item as they gained and maintained large contracts and partnered with building management companies. This eventually led them winning awards for providing exceptional service, such as Best Cleaning Service of 2007 & 2008 with City Search and voted Favorite Cleaning Service 2009 among 103.5 KISS FM listeners. While riding high at their first peak of providing professional services, BIG Helpers was hard-hit by the recession of 2008 and in 2009 suffered a fire at their office location. It finally caught up to them in 2010, and they were forced into a massive layoff. Their team of roughly 30 crew members dwindled down to 5 as their best, brightest, most loyal staff remained with the company. While clients began cleaning their own homes, BIG Helpers was able to maintain condo building cleaning contracts and handyman services helped keep the business afloat. 

Additionally, they were able to grow a new customer base for handyman and furniture assembly services due to the arrival of apps like Thumbtack. In fact, BIG Helpers was a commanding presence in that arena. With competitive prices, a wide scope of services and longevity, they earned accolades for being ‘Best of Thumbtack’ in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Although Thumbtack was fruitful for several years, it eventually became flooded with novices who undercut established companies with lowball pricing and cheapened the overall Thumbtack brand. 

BIG Helpers had to move on to bigger and better arenas. BIG Helpers created yet another unique niche in the industry when they were tapped to partner with a company that produced Murphy beds and became their sole installer for the Chicagoland area. This allowed the company to grow even further and narrow their focus to only the best types of jobs. 

BIG Helpers branched out into providing Murphy bed installation services for a number of Murphy bed manufacturers. Because of BIG Helpers’ extensive experience with installing swing sets, the Covid-19 pandemic proved to be a boon for the company. Many parents wanted to contain their children in their own backyards and contacted BIG Helpers to install elaborate playsets. Murphy beds were more popular than ever during that time due to many people in lockdown needing extra room or a space in which to quarantine. While similar companies were closing their doors, BIG Helpers had skills that eased some of the strain during that era. 

Today, BIG Helpers has a team of 10 individuals who dedicate themselves to providing exceptional service. From the first phone call to providing services, their level of professionalism is unparalleled. One of the aspects that sets BIG Helpers apart in this era of apps is that when you call, the same person always answers the phone. 

They do not outsource customer service, so you always have a seamless experience. And with a knowledgeable group committed to their duties, you always get the same installers to take care of you if ever need their services in the future. BIG Helpers has come a long way and is constantly evolving in response to what Chicagoland needs most.

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