Moving companies vary in expertise and specialization. From household movers to commercial and international moving companies, there’s a company best suited for every need and budget.
But with so many options out there, how do you even start your search?
Here’s a hint: Looking up companies online is not the first step.
The first step is figuring out what you need from a moving company.
Begin by defining what you need, rather than what companies are available near you, or which one offers the lowest fees. You’ll save time, money and effort if you have a clear idea of the moving services you must have–and the services you can do without.
Here are some questions that will help define your needs:
- How much time can you commit to this move?
- Are you willing to handle parts of the moving process like packing, loading and unloading of the items?
- Are there items that need special handling? Some examples are artwork, your piano, wine collection, or high-end office equipment.
- Do you need storage?
- Does your move involve multiple destinations?
- Do the items have to arrive at their destination at a specific date or time?
Your answers to those questions will determine what type of moving company you actually need.
Determine what type of movers you need.
Now that you’ve defined your needs, it’s time to choose the type of moving company that can best deliver them.
- Auto transportation companies – Consider this service if you’re moving interstate, don’t want to drive your car for days, but want it ready to use in your new surroundings.
- Specialty movers – Do you need highly trained movers for items that are very delicate, valuable, or too big and bulky for you to move yourself?
- Full-service movers – Hire them to take care of all stages of the move – from packing your items to assembling them in your new home.
- Self-service movers – Choose this if you just want the movers to drive your items to your new home and you’ll take care of everything else.
- Partial moving services – If you don’t need (or prefer not to) use a full-moving service, you can hire for specific services like packing, loading, unloading and unpacking.
- Residential movers – They provide various services for every home relocation need.
- Business relocation companies–Movers for commercial settings use trained staff and specialized moving equipment to safely transport and install office equipment.
You might need more than one type of moving company to fulfill your move. For example, you could hire a specialty mover for delicate items, in addition to hiring an interstate residential mover.
Look for local companies.
You’ll find many internet-based brokers who promise to help you find the best movers. But to avoid potential scams, it’s better to choose a company with an office in your area. Local companies can also send an employee to your home or office to give you an estimate.
When looking for companies online, use search keywords that combine the service you need, and the starting and final destinations of your move.
Here are some examples you can use:
- fine art moving companies in [city name]
- international moving companies from [city/state name] to [country name]
- commercial movers in [city name]
Aim to find at least 5 moving companies at this stage of your search. Ask friends and family for referrals. Then proceed to the next stage to evaluate the companies on your list.
Choose a reputable and professional company.
At this stage, you’ve already chosen a type of mover and determined the additional services you need. You also have a list of at least 5 moving companies to choose from. Now it’s time to narrow your list down to the top 3 companies.
To find your top 3, read reviews about the companies, call them up to get an idea of their process and professionalism, and ask them to give you an estimate.
Look out for common red-flags like:
- a business name switch – Some companies avoid being assessed by the Better Business Bureau by doing business under a variety of names.
- movers that ask for large deposits – Reputable companies will never ask you for large amounts before the move. If you pay a large deposit upfront, you lose control over when you will see your belongings again.
- movers that don’t do a thorough walkthrough during an estimate – The weight of your items and the space they take up in the truck are two main components of a mover’s quote. Be sure you understand how it’s calculated.
When evaluating a company based on customer reviews, pay close attention to both 5-star and 1-star ratings. Also check their social media pages. You might find useful customer feedback to inform your hiring decision.
Consider the estimates you’ve received.
At this stage, you should have 2-3 estimates from the top 3 companies you want to work with. Moving costs can add up quickly, so it’s wise to understand the estimate and the moving contract before signing on the dotted line.
There are 3 types of estimates:
- a non-binding estimate – This is a quote based on the approximate weight of the items. It is non-binding. So depending on the actual weight of your items, you might end up paying more or less than the original estimate.
- a binding estimate – Also based on the approximate weight of your items, this estimate guarantees you will only pay the fixed cost. But if the items end up weighing less, you still have to pay the higher amount on the original estimate.
- binding not-to-exceed estimate – This estimate is the most popular because it usually works in the customer’s favor. If your items weigh more than the estimate, the movers will not charge you more. But if your items weigh less, you will only pay for the actual weight of the items.
The moving company should be very clear about the type of estimate they’re sending you. Most companies will give you an option to choose an estimate type that you’re comfortable with. And if they don’t, be sure to ask.
Get everything in writing.
Reputable moving companies always provide their clients with a moving contract. It is a legally binding document that shows all the specifics of your move. The basic components of the contract include a description and scope of the service, payment terms, and a confidentiality agreement. Remember to ask questions if any part of the contract is confusing, or needs to be changed.
We know that moving can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be that way. When you have clear expectations, and a moving company that can meet them, your move will be smooth, cost-effective and even enjoyable.