So, you’ve decided to hire movers to facilitate your relocation? Great! You’ve made the choice to handle your move as swiftly and smoothly as possible, putting your belongings into the hands of people who know what they’re doing and who will help give you peace of mind as you relocate.
But where do you find reliable movers? How do you go about hiring them? What should you be looking for in good movers vs. what you should be avoiding? You’ve likely got a lot of questions. We’re here to answer them. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide for hiring movers, including tips, advice and recommendations that’ll lead you to movers you can feel confident trusting.
Basic steps to find movers
There are two very simple ways to find movers. First, you can ask friends and family you trust for recommendations. Second, you can browse the web and compile a list of prospective companies. In either case, you’ll need to do a little bit of legwork to make sure you’re hiring a reputable company that can meet your needs. Here’s a quick list of what to look for:
- Service options and capabilities
- Pricing, rates and fees associated with service
- Reviews and recommendations, as well as complaints
- Reputable website and multiple means of contact
- Accreditations and certifications by reputable authorities
- Years of experience and number of moves completed
- General experience and knowledgeability
Some of these things are easy to find while searching online. If the company has a website and means of contact, you can gather just about everything you need to make a decision about hiring them. Don’t be afraid to send an email or give them a call to discuss your needs and that company’s ability to meet them.
Compile a list of several moving companies you’re interested in speaking with. Ideally, you’ll want to have two to five. The next step is to contact each of these companies and discuss quotes and estimates with them, so you can start to price out how much your move is going to cost.
Get an accurate estimate of cost
With several options available to you, you’ll want to get quotes and scope of work estimates from each moving company on your list. To do this, you’ll need to reach out to them and discuss the scope of your move, as well as what service you’ll need, when you’ll need them and in what capacity.
There are a few ways to get a moving quote. Below, we’ll run through them from most accurate to least accurate:
- Online quote: Many moving companies will have an online form you can fill out for a quick quote. This will provide you with a very basic quote that only accounts for the baseline variables, such as what days you’re moving or how big the move is. These are good for getting very baseline figures for budgeting purposes.
- Email quote: This method of quote is more reliable because you can provide more detailed information and communicate directly with someone. You’ll be able to go back and forth and provide information to get a more narrowly-defined quote. Plus, you’ll have all the information you need in writing.
- Over-the-phone quote: Chatting with someone over the phone is a great way to work through your moving needs in real-time. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and provide information in a way that makes your moving quote more accurate and reliable. You can also get insight into the different services a moving provider offers and build out a more complete scope of services to simplify your move.
- On-site estimate: Many reputable moving companies will use on-site estimates to be as thorough as possible in providing you a quote. This is the best way to also get a feel for the company that’s going to be handling your move and will ensure all the information you have about moving services, costs and fees are accurate.
Generally, the simpler your move is, the simpler the quote will be. On the flipside, if you’re dealing with a complex move that’s going to take quite a bit of logistics to complete, you might want to meet with a mover in-person, so they can get a handle on the scope of work and provide a more accurate quote.
Tips for vetting movers
As you get serious about hiring a company, you’ll want to do some final checks into their background and operations—just to make sure you’re making a sound choice. Here are a few last-minute tips for vetting movers before you sign a contract to hire them.
- Any complaints? Check if there are any complaints filed against the companies that are on your checklist. It’s a very rare case for a company to have zero unhappy customers. The point is to check whether the grievances were taken seriously and customers were satisfied successfully.
- DOT number. Find out whether your potential mover has a Department of Transportation (DOT) number on the website of U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, to ensure that its legally registered. Even the slightest hint of suspicion is good enough a reason to cancel out on any company.
- Initial screening. Ask the same questions across each service provider you review and compare their answers. If someone is giving you an odd answer or something that’s too good to be true, get clarification. It could be a red flag. It’s also a good idea to get most answers in writing, if possible.
At the end of the day, a little sleuthing and attention to detail will ensure that you’re choosing a moving company that’s honest, trustworthy and capable of helping you. Just be sure to read contracts and ask questions, and you’ll have no trouble finding a reputable professional.
Identify Red Flags
In any industry, there are imitators and scammers. It’s just a fact of life! To weed them out, you need to keep your eyes peeled for anything that seems too good to be true, excessive or downright shady. In the moving industry especially, there are a few practices that may seem normal, but are actually red flags that you’re dealing with a scammer. Here’s what to look out for:
- Lack of a website, phone number or physical address
- Asking for down payment and/or deposits to “hold trucks”
- Subcontracting services to “movers” who aren’t on their staff
- Hidden fees and service charges within contracts
- Partial estimates that don’t include certain costs and fees
The easiest way to avoid scammers and less-than-reputable companies is to observe how they hold themselves. If a company operates transparently with nothing to hide, there’s a good chance they’re confident in their reputation as a trustworthy services provider. If they dodge questions, make up excuses or seem focused on getting your money before they provide service, turn around and walk away!
Understand mover rates
There’s some confusion out there as to how movers charge for their services. There are, in fact, two ways of charging for moving services depending on the scope of work and the type of move.
There are companies that charge customers an hourly rate. This is simply the measure of time that it’ll take to accomplish all packing, loading, driving and unloading. Typically, hourly rates are suited to local moves and simpler relocation projects. They’re also typically cheaper because there aren’t many peripheral services factored in. Really, a moving company is incentivized to accomplish the job as quickly as they can, which means an expedited move for customers.
If you’re moving long-distance or have a more complex move that involves larger pieces, a moving company will likely charge you a rate based on weight. This is because fuel becomes more of a factor and the company needs to ensure they’re making up the cost of mileage as they provide services.
In some cases, a mixed quote of weight and hourly rates is used, such as if it’s a local move with heavy or oversized items, or if there are special stops for self-storage to consider. However the rate is calculated, the moving company should provide a stringent breakdown of services and rates on their quote.
A few tips to keep in mind
Now that you know how to find, vet and get a quote from a professional mover, there are a few final tips to keep in mind as you approach one to sign a contract.
Book in advance
Most of the people opt to move during summer season, which makes it tough to book moving services due to the large amount of people changing residences. To stay on the safe side, try to reserve your move at least a month in advance. If you have to make a quick move a mover may be able to squeeze you in, but it’s never a guarantee. The longer lead time you give a company, the more specific you’ll be able to be—and perhaps the lower the price you’ll get!
Ask about membership
Some moving companies provide discounts to group members. Ask if the company gives discounts to AAA or AARP members, for example, as these are some of the most common discount memberships. You may also call up the organization to find out what partnership they have with local moving companies in order to grab the best deal. After the discount is applied, you may shop around and compare the prices in order to ensure that you have the best deal.
While renting a car with a credit card, the card issuer normally offers car rental insurance. However, this is not the case when you hire the services of a moving company. Your home and auto insurance policies may offer you some coverage, but you should ideally check with your insurance company to ensure you don’t require supplemental coverage. When hiring a moving company, check that they sells insurance with various features, including supplemental liability insurance, personal and cargo policies, and damage waivers.
These things may seem like afterthoughts, but they could play a big role in everything from the cost of your move to the availability of trucks and crew on your desired moving day.
5 final points to remember
Ready to hire a moving company? After reading this guide you should feel confident and have peace of mind about your decision. As you get ready to approach a company and sign a contract, keep these five final points in mind:
- Market reputation: When hiring a moving company, you’re trusting that company with every valuable thing you own. Work with a company that has a stellar, indelible market reputation. Experience and genuine work makes a company stand out, and it’s important to put your move in the hands of a company with a reputation for doing things right.
- Background: Check out everything you can about the company and make sure they’ve got a solid background in this industry. The more you know about a company, the more you’re going to trust them to handle your move from end-to-end. If you’re unsure or uncertain about a company, you’ll constantly second-guess your move and stress out.
- Offered services: Obviously, you want to work with a company that’s going to offer you all the services you need to relocate smoothly. Make sure your choice in moving provider offers it all: packing, loading, transport, specialty item transport, storage and anything else you may need.
- Area coverage: Does the company you’re interested in offer local and long-distance moves? Moves into and out of certain areas, like college campuses? Get familiar with the physical and geographic service area of the company and make sure they’re able to meet your needs, where and when they arise. This goes for storage as well!
- Extra services: Sometimes we need our movers to do some extra services as well. We might need them to dismantle and assemble furniture or uninstall and install electronic appliances. We might ask them to provide their services according to our time schedules. Go for a company that can provide you with moving services, with a bit of extra to show that they actually care.
It’s not every day you hire a mover. Nevertheless, it’s one of the most important things you can do to ensure your move goes smoothly! If you’re getting ready to relocate, use this guide to make sure you’re hiring the best company for the job and getting the best results from your decision.