The moving industry is a competitive one which has advantages and disadvantages for movers.
On the plus side, there are opportunities to secure a competent moving service at a great price. However, it does mean that there are a lot of shady opportunists trying to get a piece of the pie. This means you will need to put some work in to sort the wheat from the chaff and then strike the best deal with those companies that make it through.
This 8-step guide will take you through the process:
LOOK AT REVIEWS AND GET RECOMMENDATIONS
A good place to start your search for a great moving service is with friends, family members and work colleagues. Who did they use in their previous moves? What was the service like? What did they think of the price? What were the pros and cons?
Another form of social proof can be found in detailed online service reviews (be wary of two word 5-star ratings). Read both the bad and good reviews to get a feel of how the company is perceived by its customers.
Unfortunately, this is where many people end the process. Don’t forget that online reviews can often be solicited from friends or curated to remove negative feedback. It is also possible that a friend or colleague just got lucky with their moving service and other customers have had nothing but problems.
Then there’s the matter of legality. Is the moving service licensed to operate? These things require more than looking at reviews and recommendations.
PERFORM AN INITIAL SCREENING
Just as a physician would be unable to check every one of their patients for every possible health condition, you won’t be able to thoroughly research every moving service ncontender. Screening is the process of applying some quick tests and checks to rule out any major problems.
The first port of call should be the Better Business Bureau at https://www.bbb.org/. It is also a good idea to see which of the companies you are interested in are registered with the American Moving and Storage Association. This is a voluntary organization where members agree to charge in line with published tariffs and to participate in an arbitration program. Visit them at https://www.moving.org/.
SEEK A BINDING ESTIMATE
Are you moving interstate? If so, your moving company is obliged to provide you with a binding or binding not-to-exceed estimate. This will be based on both the distance you are moving and the weight of your items. Both types of estimate set a cap on the amount you will be billed.
If you are moving within a state, the rules vary. Some states (e.g. California) have made it mandatory for movers to produce binding estimates while others (e.g. Illinois) forbid movers from offering this. When moving within a state, your estimate will be based on the duration of the move.
INVITE FOR AN IN-HOUSE ESTIMATE
Once you’ve settled on your final three to four contenders, invite them to your home (if practical) to give you an in-house estimate. You should show them every part of your house (attic, basement, garage, yard, etc.) and every single closet. If the foreman on moving day finds they are being asked to load more items than you showed them, they can refuse to carry out the work unless you agree to pay extra.
You should also make them aware of any hindrances to the moving process such as stairs, elevators and extended walking distance.
EXTRACT MAXIMUM INFORMATION
During the visit, make sure you ask the movers as many questions as you can think of. For example, ask:
- Will they be carrying out the move themselves or sub-contracting?
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have an USDOT and MC number? This is mandatory for interstate movers
- Do they offer additional services such as packing?
- What packaging materials and equipment for moving do they use?
- Do they offer upgraded insurance options?
Before they leave, you will need to take down all contact details (business name, alternative business names, address, telephone numbers, email addresses, websites, etc.)
You should also request the names and contact details of two references.
Review and compare estimates
Look through each estimate to check it really is binding (this should be clearly typed on the document). Check all factual information such as the weight, distance, pick up and delivery times, additional services and insurance details. If your estimate is non-binding, make sure you understand the factors that might lead to extra charges (provision of packing supplies, driving distance to and from the company depot, etc.)
If you are unsure of anything, call the company and ask. If something needs changing on your estimate, don’t believe a verbal assurance; insist that the document is re-issued.
CHECK DETAILS AND COMPARE
You are now in a position to do some more in-depth research on your shortlisted movers. Visit https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ and type in the various USDOT numbers.
Check the following:
MAKE YOUR CHOICE
Having done your due diligence it’s time to commit to one company. Contact them, tell them the good news and don’t be afraid to negotiate on price before signing the documentation, making sure you check everything carefully.
Nobody can guarantee you will get a perfect moving experience but by following the eight steps above you will at least have maximized your chances.