How to Hire a Moving Company

Moving to a new home is a daunting task and finding a reputable, reliable moving company is at the top of the headache list. There are important steps to take to make sure you hire a company that will be priced right, perform their task on time, and take excellent care of your belongings.

Get referrals from people you trust.
Choosing your mover based on recommendations from people you know is almost always a safe bet. No one is going to give a nod to a company that gave them poor service or caused damage to their possessions. Think of anyone you know who moved recently. Send out an email to friends, family and coworkers. Your real estate agent should be an excellent source as well. There are plenty of companies to hire, but you must be vigilant to find a good one.

Do some research.
Moving scams can happen, so approach this project with attention to detail. Once you have a list of potential companies, do some preliminary research on them. You are looking for a professional moving company, not just a bunch of guys who move people as an extra job. Check online customer reviews of each company’s reputation and how long they’ve been in business. Social media sites such as Yelp and Citysearch are helpful. Another good resource is the American Moving and Storage Association. See if the company has accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. For moves from one state to another, the company should have a unique USDOT number. This is a license issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation. For moves within the state, they need a state license.

Schedule meetings with company estimators.
After your research, you should end up with at least three trustworthy, professional companies to call for in-home estimates. Don’t accept a bid over the phone. If a company tells you they can give you an accurate estimate with an email or phone call, move on to the next name on your list. Find movers that will send a representative to your home and give you an estimate after they take a look at your belongings. Make sure the estimator sees everything you plan to take, including the contents of your attic, basement, closets and garage. Discuss the cost of moving specialty items, such as antiques, pianos, or pool tables. Let the estimator know of any complicating circumstances at the destination of the move. For example, will it be difficult to find a place to park the moving van? Are there multiple flights of stairs or an elevator? The estimator needs all your information to give you an accurate bid.

Compare the estimates.
Find out exactly what each estimate includes. Are fuel charges extra? Will you get a better rate depending on the day of the week you choose for your move? Find out if the estimate is binding or nonbinding. You want a binding estimate or a binding not-to-exceed estimate. Make sure the mover’s signature and date is clear on the bottom of the estimate. If yours in an in-state move that doesn’t require a binding estimate, you should still have a written estimate of the hourly rate and any other costs you may incur. Ask questions and, if you need to make any changes, get the revised contract in writing from the company.

Negotiate for the best price.
You should feel free to negotiate if the mover you like best seems too expensive for you. Mention that you have competitive bids from other companies and find out if they are willing to come down in price. Be cautious: if one of your companies gives you a low price that seem too good to be true, it probably is. A low-ball estimate can be a ploy to get your business, but the movers may then hold your possessions hostage unless you pay a higher price in the end.

Make sure you’re insured.
Unless the company does the packing, they may not cover any breakage that happens in transit. Check to see if your homeowners or renters insurance covers your belongings during a move. If not, you might choose to invest in supplemental moving insurance.

Take care of moving day details.
On moving day, you should get a copy of the mover’s inventory when they have the truck loaded. Give them detailed directions to your new home and get a phone number where you can reach the crew during the move. The movers will issue you a bill of lading, which will specify minimum and maximum amounts to pay, dates, company contact information and other details. Make sure you are satisfied with the price, the moving company’s liability, delivery date and all other information in the contract. Keep your copy of the contract, the bill of lading and the inventory sheet accessible until the move is complete.