The good old days: when finding a moving company was as easy as checking a community bulletin board or flipping through the Yellow Pages. There were perhaps a few options in town, and you could easily call and find one with availability for your dates, and get packing.
These days, things don’t feel quite as simple. A simple Google search returns an endless list of options to sift through and it’s nearly impossible to know where to begin. Add that to the already common (and completely natural) moving anxiety, and it’s easy to lose the excitement over new beginnings.
So, when you have so many companies at your fingertips, how do you narrow them down? There are a few factors to consider that will help you separate the good from the bad. We’ve put together a list of a few key things to look for in a good moving company.
1. Personal Recommendations
One reliable way to know a moving company does good work is through personal recommendations. If the people you know and trust recommend someone they trust, that’s typically a good sign.
Start by shortening your list by asking around to friends, family, and colleagues. Ask if they’ve moved recently and if there is a company they had a great experience with. Your contacts may have had a rough experience with an otherwise well-rated company, like being stuck with a lot of surprise fees at the end of their move. Or, they may have had a great experience with a relatively new company that hasn’t yet built up a long list of online reviews. You can gain lots of valuable insights from your contacts, so don’t be shy.
2. Public Reviews and Recommendations
Once you’ve taken a few recommendations from friends, you can get a look at the bigger picture by reading online reviews. People don’t often leave reviews for a simple, flowing move. Most of what you’ll read will be indicative of a very good or a very bad experience other customers have had. That said, they can help find a good moving company.
Take some time to read through reviews and look for common experiences. It’s a good sign if many customers report the mover as communicative, professional, and well-prepared. Conversely, it’s also a reliable indication if others have repeated complaints. Hidden fees, late shows, or a company hard to work with if an item was damaged? If many reviews state these same things, consider it a red flag.
3. A Solid Track Record
It’s great to support a fledgling business. After all, everyone has to start somewhere. That said, the most reliable approach is to hire an established company. They’ll have the experience and the track record in your area, and you’ll be able to see just how well they do their job.
A reputable moving company will have an online presence and will represent itself well. They’ll have a good track record for being on time, fair with their prices, and taking good care of the condition of the items they’re moving.
If you have strong recommendations from people you trust for a new moving company, you can give them a shot. Otherwise, opt for a well-established mover that has proven itself over time.
4. Licensed and Insured
Never, ever use a moving company that isn’t licensed and insured. Sure, you may find great rates on a move from a group of guys who bought their truck and are ready to do the heavy lifting for you. Only licensed and insured movers are legally held to protect your property along the way.
A good interstate moving company must be registered with the US Department of Transportation, and have a unique USDOT number. Regulations for intrastate movers vary by state but most often, a reputable company must be licensed as well.
Federal law states that movers must provide at least basic insurance for moves they perform, and many may have additional coverage available from third-party insurers. Make sure you ask and understand what your insurance coverage entails.
5. Defined Rates
A good moving company will be completely transparent with their rates, leaving nothing left to obscurity or uncertainty. When you call to discuss a move, your mover should ask questions to get an understanding of how much you’re moving, and the distance. They’ll be able to provide you with a base rate which, for local movers, is based on the number of movers required and the amount of time the move will take.
There will be additional fees for extra packing materials, specialty equipment, or complicated entryways such as flights of stairs or unavailable parking close to your building. Your mover should make all of this clear and do their best to provide you with an accurate estimate. Make sure to ask what may lead to an extra fee so you’re aware ahead of time. If the company can’t tell you what constitutes an extra charge, cross them off your list.
6. A Good Fit for What You Need
Moves are an individual experience and each move requires a different approach. Whether it’s your first move and you have only a few boxes or you’re moving to a 4 bedroom family home, you need to be sure the mover you hire is right for your specific needs.
Make sure you understand whether your mover has a truck that suits your needs. That means one that is big enough to fit all of your things, and that can park and navigate any physical constraints at either property.
If you’ll need extra packing supplies, make sure you hire a mover that can bring some with you. Ask for moving blankets, bubble wrap, extra boxes, and other special packing materials if you need them on the day. That includes prepping and protecting your furniture or artwork.
Looking forward to moving but hate packing? A good moving company for you has a full-service offering. Full-service movers will bring all of the packing materials required and pack your things for you. After unloading the truck in your new home, they’ll even unpack for you and take the boxes and materials away with them.
Of course, good movers tend to stay pretty busy. So while you may have found a great mover, if you have a specific window when you can or need to move, there’s a chance your first choice may not be able to accommodate you in their schedule. So, a mover that is good for you will be able to meet your scheduling requirements including dates and times for pick up and drop off.
7. Look Out for Scammers
Protect yourself and your belongings by doing your due diligence. Make sure you look out for scammers and hire only a reputable company. Check their license information, look up their service records, and make sure they have a physical address and not simply a PO Box.
Call their business phone number and make sure they state the name of the company when they answer. A reputable moving company should never ask you for money upfront, so don’t hire a mover that is pushing you to pay a deposit, particularly if it is a sizeable one.