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7 Steps to Finding the Right Moving Company
Are you moving? You have a big job ahead of you, and you’ve probably decided that it’s time to delegate some of the heavy lifting.
If you’re planning to relocate, and you’re searching for the right moving company, you might think more in terms of “hiring” than “shopping” as you compare prices and services. After all, you’re entrusting your chosen movers with family heirlooms, valuable personal property, and your confidence that they will deliver your belongings carefully and professionally.
Here are the seven steps you need to follow to find the best candidates for your moving gig.
- Be prepared
Before you cast your net, have a good understanding of what you’ll want your moving company to handle. Some items, such as oversized safes, appliances or fixtures require either specialized movers oradvance preparation before your relocation company arrives. Make a checklist of items you think might fall into this category so you can ask your moving estimator.
Are you planning to hold a garage sale, or donate furniture to charity? Do your best to make these decisions before you seek bids to eliminate “gray areas”. When you’re ready to seek bids for moving services, you want a clear idea of what you’re taking with you and what you’ll want to pack yourself.
- Adjust Cost Expectations
You probably have a budget for your move, but is it realistic? If you have a “ballpark” fee in mind, be sure you didn’t base it upon newspaper ads or direct mail campaigns. (Read on for the pitfalls of sight unseen moving quotes). Keep an open mind in the estimating process, because as with all professional services, you get what you pay for.
- Get referrals from your personal network
Ask your friends and coworkers to share their recommendations, tips, and advice if they’ve recently relocated. How happy were they with their professional movers? Would they recommend their relocation company? What advice can they give to help make your own move go more smoothly?
Gathering a list of moving companies who have earned rave reviews from people you know and trust is a great way to get started, but you’ll want to check all available references. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
- Check industry credentials
Take your list of personal recommendations and make a few calls to get each company’s US Department of Transportation number. You can visit protectoyourmove.gov to make sure the company is legitimate and current on all insurance and certifications.
It’s important to make sure your chosen relocation company is a legitimate, bonded business, so you have a better chance of recovering damages should something happen to your belongings during the move.
The USDOT and industry leaders in commercial transportation have united to form the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They have a great page to help you learn to be better prepared for your move, with tips on protecting yourself against moving fraud.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Do your candidates have a good rating with the BBB? If not, why? The BBB rates businesses on 13 elements, including consumer complaints to licensing, transparent business practices and time in business. Think of the BBB as a “deep background check” for your moving company “hires”, finding information not readily available for the average researcher.
- Look online for reviews
Online resources such as Angie’s List, Google Business, and your favorite consumer advocacy sites to find out as much as you can about the moving companies on your list. Did you know that potential employers search for information on their job candidates on social media? Do a quick search for the moving companies on your list to dig up the dirt.
- Demand on-site estimates
OK, so now you know how much stuff you need to move, where it’s going and when it needs to be there. You have a working list of moving companies with solid reviews and current credentials. Now, it’s time to start the “interview” process.The most important step in finding the right moving company is to insist on an on-site estimate.
Your moving company can’t give you a proper estimate unless they send a representative to your home. You’ll want to make sure the agent is aware of all the circumstances unique to your job, and as an added bonus, the estimator will give you a pretty good sense of the company’s professionalism.
A good estimator will ask lots of questions and take her time looking through your home. She’s trying to save you and her company from potentially expensive surprises. These are just a few of her goals:
- Identify potential access issues
- Visually inspect and measure of oversized or special-care items
- Find out what packing and wrapping materials are necessary for the job
- Calculate the volume of your total items
Now imagine how accurate a phone quote would be in comparison to an on-site estimate. Reputable moving companies know that low-balling estimates damage them in the end. No customer likes surprises, and in this day and age, dissatisfied customers can make or break a moving company’s reputation.
Move forward with confidence
You’re hiring for a short-term position, but the choice you make could impact your family for a long time to come if your items are lost or damaged while in transit, or if the moving company fails to show up at all. Protect yourself from illegitimate, fraudulent or inexperienced movers with some due diligence, and your investment of time will pay off.
Information is everything, and when you know you’ve done your research, you can feel more confident that the moving company you ultimately hire will treat your cherished belongings with the care, respect, and professionalism they deserve.