Once you’ve decided to finally make your big move, there are some things to know before hiring a moving company. Moving isn’t always a walk in the park, but it can be if you hire the right moving company. The moving industry is a booming business, with thousands of moving companies opening and closing yearly. Don’t risk leaving your move to the care of amateurs. This comprehensive guide will tell you all you need to know before hiring a moving company for your next move.

Types of Movers

There are a few different types of movers. It’s best to get familiar with all of them and what kind of services they offer before you make the call to hire one. The primary types of moving companies you’ll encounter are:

  • Local Movers
  • Long-Distance Movers
  • Residential Movers
  • Commercial Movers

Local Movers

Local moving companies are great fits if you’re moving across town or to a nearby city. These guys are familiar with the area, used to the weather, and know what they’re getting into. You’ll want to find a trusted local moving company with good reviews.

Local movers know the neighborhoods and how best to navigate traffic patterns. They know what to expect from Mother Nature and will come prepared with tarps and rain runners. These guys are personable and do their best to keep your belongings and house safe and clean as they bring things in and out of it. The company might be a small operation, but don’t let that deter you. Check for reviews and see how long they’ve been in business.

Long-Distance Movers

A long-distance moving company is your solution if you’re moving across the state or across the country. These guys are used to long days and driving long distances. If it’s a good moving company, they’ll take all the same care and caution as local movers would. Because long-distance moving companies are typically larger operations, you should have no problem finding good reviews. If you can’t find at least decent reviews, steer clear.

Residential Movers

A residential moving company will move individuals and families in and out of housing situations. They move your son or daughter into their first college dorm. They move them into their first apartment. They move them into their first family house. They move them into a bigger house or estate when the family grows. And they move them into assisted living when the time is right. These guys do it all! They take special care to meet the needs of each individual or family.

Commercial Movers

A commercial moving company specializes in moving businesses and commercial clients into and out of office spaces. They are the pros to turn to when it comes to office equipment like large desks, computer equipment, and lobby furniture.

You’ll want to have an employee take an inventory of everything going to your new office space. This accomplishes two things. One, it provides the movers with details of the job, so they’ll know exactly what kind of moving equipment and how large their crew needs to be. Two, it provides you with a comprehensive list of everything you have.

You might be surprised at how much stuff you have that you don’t need. At the end of the day, all your employees have to do is pack up the items on their desks. You don’t want them hurting themselves trying to move any heavy desks or furniture. Leave that to a professional commercial moving company.

Many moving companies provide a mix of these services and some provide all of them. Before you hire a moving company, you want to be sure they can cater to your specific needs. Every move is different, so make sure you hire the moving company that best suits your next move.

Outline Your Specific Needs

Before you hire a moving company, you can save yourself some time and confusion by listing everything you need to be moved. Rather than guessing at what all you’ll need to have moved, you can get a much more accurate quote if you’re specific with the consultant when you make the call. This isn’t an absolute necessity, but it’ll save you some headaches further down the road.

Making this list also helps to realize what you need and don’t need. Sometimes moving means leaving some stuff behind. Or, you might opt to leave some things in storage for a while. If that’s the case, be sure to ask if the moving company offers any sort of storage solutions.

Best Times to Move

The busiest times in the moving industry are the summer months. That’s when the vast majority of people make their moves. The weather is good and the kids are out of school. However, this also means that the demand for movers is high. That high demand can sometimes mean a higher cost. Consider moving in the off-season, between fall and spring.

No matter when you decide to move, you’ll want to schedule your move several weeks in advance. We recommend at least four to six weeks. This usually guarantees your preferred moving dates. Sooner is always better when it comes to scheduling your next move.

Check for License & Reviews

With any moving company, no matter how small your move is, you want to make sure they’re licensed. If the move is to a new state, the company must have a DOT number. You can find this on the United States Department of Transportation website. If the company can’t provide you with a DOT number, look elsewhere.

It’s also a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau and other online review websites to see what other people are saying about the moving company. You can quickly separate the amateurs from the pros with an online search. If someone didn’t have a good experience after hiring a moving company, you’d likely be able to read about it online.

Be Wary of Scams

Just like any thriving industry, there will be snakes who try to make a quick buck on someone’s ignorance. Don’t be that victim! Do your research before you sign anything. There are a few surefire ways to tell if a company is a scam.

As we’ve already mentioned, the first is to check to make sure they’re licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). You can go to the FMCSA’s website and search the company’s DOT number to ensure they’re licensed. The DOT number should be listed at the bottom of every moving company’s website.

Another huge indicator that a moving company might be a scam is if they claim to charge by feet rather than weight. Most reputable moving companies offer estimates and final prices based on the weight of the load, not the amount of space it takes in the truck. So if a company claims to charge by space rather than weight, keep looking.

You also want to make sure there are plenty of reviews for whatever moving company you’re considering hiring. Scam moving companies typically don’t last long. They get money from a few unfortunate customers, receive some bad reviews online, abandon the company name, and move on to a new name. So you want a company that’s been around for a few years, under the same name, and with hundreds of reviews.

Understand the Different Types of Estimates

There are three main types of estimates you’ll be offered when hiring a moving company. You’ll either get a binding estimate, a non-binding estimate, or a binding not-to-exceed estimate. The binding estimate is based on the weight of items to move and is set in stone. The price won’t change no matter how long the job takes.

A non-binding estimate is based on movers’ previous experiences and the approximate weight of the items to move. This estimate will likely change and will often leave you needing to pay more than expected.

A binding non-to-exceed estimate is most popular for long-distance moves and is usually the best for the customer. This type of estimate guarantees the customer will not have to pay above the quoted price. If the final price of the move is below the estimate, that’s all the customer will have to pay.

Be sure to get several different estimates before hiring a moving company. You don’t want to jump the gun and sign any type of contract before exhausting all your options. Patience often leads to money saved.

Protection & Valuation

All licensed moving companies are guaranteed by law to provide you with one of two types of protection. The first is known as Released Value Protection. This is included in the base price of a move, at no extra cost to you. This protection holds the company liable for up to 60 cents of every pound per item damaged, destroyed, or lost.

If you want to protect your belongings fully, you’re going to want to opt for Full Value Protection. This additional cost is usually about 1% of the value of everything being moved by the company. For example, if everything being moved is $10,000 in value, you can tack on $100 to your moving costs to fully protect everything. Full Value Protection guarantees the moving company will repair, replace, or offer a cash settlement for whatever is damaged, destroyed, or lost.

Extra Services

Many moving companies offer additional services rather than a basic move of your household items. But you should be careful of what the salesmen are trying to sell. Can they really follow through and provide the service they claim?

Auto Transport

Some moving companies provide auto transport services. This is for those who can’t or would prefer not to drive their vehicle(s) to their new home. If the moving company is reputable, they likely work with a selection of certified carriers known for safety. They’ll work with you every step of the way. Don’t underestimate how complicated it really is to ship vehicles. It isn’t exactly a straightforward, simple process.

There is plenty of paperwork to get through and regulations vary from state to state. You don’t want to try to cut corners here. The moving company and their partners should do everything from helping you gather necessary documentation, drafting relocation plans, and inspection before and after delivery. Whatever your auto transport needs are, make sure you choose a moving company that can tailor their services to you.

Storage

Most moving companies also provide storage options. If you have some stuff that you aren’t quite ready to get rid of, but can’t take into your new home or office space, consider putting them in storage for a while. If this is an option you’d like to explore, be sure to do your due diligence and make sure they offer a quality storage solution.

You want a moving company that has a climate-controlled warehouse. Perhaps more importantly, you want a moving company with a secure climate-controlled warehouse. By secure, we mean high-definition CCTV cameras and 24-hour security personnel. You want your belongings to be safe and secure, no matter if you need short-term or long-term storage solutions.

Now You Know

Now that you’ve read our essential guide of things to know before hiring a moving company, you can get started and find a trusted, professional moving company. There are so many moving companies out there, and it can seem like an impossible task to sift through to find the good ones.

Moving can be a stressful time, so you want to be sure you hire a moving company that guarantees an easy, hassle-free move that won’t blow your budget. Remember, there are a couple of red flags to avoid, such as no license and no reviews. Every move is different, so the moving company you hire should provide a personalized move for you, your family, or your office.

As long as you do your research and ask the right questions, your next move should go smoother than you ever thought possible. Get started today by making a list of items you know you want to move and start looking at reviews online! Moving can be a stress-free experience if you take the time to do a bit of preparation.