One of the first steps in planning a local move is finding the best possible movers for the job. This can be intimidating, especially if this is your first big move and you have no idea what to expect from professional movers. It’s natural to be worried about the handling of your valuable furniture and other items and to wonder about hidden costs. Moving is stressful enough without having your stuff arrive broken or getting surprised by a higher-than-expected bill.
The movers will also be inside your home around your family, so they need to be trustworthy. Because unscrupulous movers are an unfortunate reality, it’s essential to do your homework before hiring a moving company. Any extra time you spend researching and vetting local movers will be worth the effort. Here’s what to look for when interviewing a local moving company.
Professional and Knowledgeable Office Staff
When you first contact a moving company, you should expect the phone to be answered by a well-trained professional that can answer all your questions to your satisfaction. If there’s a question they can’t answer, they should offer to find out for you instead of pressuring you into a rushed decision. During that initial phone call, asking plenty of questions will help you determine whether the movers are equipped to handle your specific situation.
Thorough Moving Quotes
Instant quotes are a good way to get a general idea of what a move will cost, but reputable moving companies will want to do a walk-through of your home. This is because moves are priced by weight, not by the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your home. So, viewing items is extremely important.
This walk-through will help to ensure an accurate estimate. Beware of companies that only offer estimates over the phone or via email since sight-unseen price quotes are risky. Although telephone interviews are convenient, they are not as precise and tend to lead to price increases on moving day.
A video quote is ideal because it offers the best of both worlds. With the video option, you’ll have the convenience of doing everything from your mobile device while still allowing the moving company to see your belongings, which they need to do in order to provide you with an accurate quote.
After assessing the items to be moved, a reputable mover should offer you an estimate. Always get the estimate in writing, but keep in mind that a written estimate can be either binding or nonbinding. Be sure to ask lots of questions and read the fine print. If you don’t get any kind of written price quote, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get overcharged.
If you’ve moved long-distance in the past, but this is your first local move, keep in mind that local and long-distance moves are sometimes calculated differently. While long-distance moves are calculated primarily based on weight and distance, the price of a local move may depend more on how many people are needed to complete the job and how much time it will take.
Typically, the cut-off for a long-distance move is 50 miles, so a move of fewer than 50 miles will likely be considered a local move. That said, mileage is usually a factor even with a local move. Regardless of how a local moving company chooses to calculate the price, it’s crucial that a representative of the company looks at your belongings and provides a written estimate. Also, please keep in mind that even with a local move, there may be extra charges specific to your situation, such as packing materials for unusually shaped items. A reputable mover will be transparent about those additional costs.
Valid Licenses and Certifications
Professional moving companies should be more than willing to provide you with proof of their credentials. A great way to check this for yourself is to verify their certification with trade associations such as the American Moving and Storage Association.
These associations thoroughly vet companies before giving them a membership or a seal of approval.
If you plan to visit the moving company in person, they should have their license posted in a prominent place on the office wall. Proper licensing helps ensure that the movers are adequately trained and qualified to move your items.
Moving companies are required by law to assume liability for the value of the goods they transport. That said, insurance can be complicated, so be sure to ask about your insurance options and what will be covered.
A legitimate company will be glad to show you proof of insurance coverage, whereas a fly-by-night mover may not be. Even if a company provides proof of insurance, a quick call to the insurance provider is all it takes to verify that the document is legitimate, and the policy is active.
In the moving industry, reputation is everything. One of the benefits of going with a local moving company is the fact that local companies are committed to building a solid reputation in the community. Be sure to choose a company with an excellent track record, as evidenced by either word-of-mouth recommendations or plenty of positive online moving reviews. While no company will get a perfect rating every time, watch for a pattern of complaints about the same issue.
In addition to perusing online reviews, ask your friends, colleagues, or family members which moving company they used. Real estate agents can also be a great source of referrals. A surefire way to make sure a mover is reputable is to check with the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB gets thousands of complaints about moving companies each year. The majority of these complaints are about lost or damaged goods. However, other complaints include:
- Not showing up on time
- Holding the customer’s items hostage at the destination
If a mover is not listed with the BBB at all, consider going with a different company. Rogue movers change company names often to avoid the consequences of subpar service. Stick with companies that are BBB-accredited or at least have a good rating.
It’s essential to know that the people who will be walking through your home and loading and unloading your valuables are trustworthy. Always make sure that the moving company you use runs a background check on their employees. You may even want to ask how long the employees have worked for the company and what training they have received.
Recently Updated Website
Professional movers should have a robust online presence, including a professional website. Ideally, you’ll be able to scroll through their website and easily find local contact and insurance information. The website should also include information about the services the company provides so that you’ll know if they are a good fit for your relocation. It should also be easy to quickly ask a question if something isn’t covered on the website.
You should be able to contact a business directly from the website via an online form or direct messaging and should look for and review any social media sites they may have. You should also be able to quickly find the address of the company.
Moving fraud is a growing problem, so look for local movers with physical locations listed on their materials and website instead of just a post office box or residential address. Ask for a business card or find the address listed on the website. Then, look up the listed address to see if it comes up under the company name. Alternatively, you could just show up at the location.
A moving company should have an office and warehouse that you can visit. If possible, ask to tour the facility to see its condition. A poorly maintained office or warehouse could be a warning sign that your belongings will be mishandled.
One of the reasons it’s essential for a moving company to do a visual survey of your belongings is so that the moving crew will be prepared with the necessary tools and equipment.
Unfortunately, not all moving companies have the equipment needed to pack and load your most vulnerable items safely. In some cases, the movers will need more than just screwdrivers, wheeled transfer carts, moving blankets, and tie straps. Professional full-service movers should also have access to additional equipment like motorized hand trucks, pallet trucks, transit benches, and even cranes.
A Supportive Single Point of Contact
MoveDay sets itself apart from other movers by assigning a dedicated “move coordinator,” also known as a “move manager,” to handle each move. When you schedule your move with us, one of our dedicated move coordinators will be assigned to your move and will be your contact throughout the relocation process.
This moving expert will be a key player in your relocation. Our move coordinators are trained to ask all the right questions and choreograph your move, doing whatever it takes to minimize your stress and ensure a smooth transition into your new home.
The move coordinator’s services include providing you with a customized move plan, easy-to-understand pricing, and the flexibility to accommodate your budget and individual needs. Not only will there be a caring professional who is just a phone call away, but the information about your move will also be easily accessible in your online personal moving portal.
Your move coordinator will also be in close contact on moving day so if any issues arise, you won’t be left on hold or passed around to different representatives.
Red Flags and Worst-Case Scenarios
We’ve talked about what to look for in a local moving company, but there are also red flags that should alert you to potentially unscrupulous movers. For example, rogue movers can quote you one price, pack your items and then hold them hostage, demanding more money before they will release them.
Some other issues that can occur are:
- Broken items that the moving company refuses to fix or pay you for. Ask detailed questions about the Claims process prior to moving to avoid this. Most moves – unless you have a lot of items, or your mover uses a small local truck – have multiple family’s items on the truck. It can take three or four households to fill one up. Ask your mover about their process for keeping items organized and making sure items don’t get mixed up. Make sure drivers and crews are background checked. This is not only to keep your items safe, but your family as well. You are inviting a moving crew into your home, and that is something every moving company should take seriously. To avoid these issues, as well as more general ones like predatory pricing and substandard service, here are several red flags to watch out for when dealing with local movers:
- Little to no web presence: If there is no mention of the company anywhere online, it’s probably a scam of some kind. In contrast, a reputable business will have a professional-looking website and multiple online reviews from past customers. Little to no web presence means you have almost no information about past behavior by this company, and almost no recourse if something goes wrong.
- Demanding a large amount upfront for a local move: Scammers may take advantage of you if you don’t know what is customary. You may be asked to pay anywhere from a modest deposit to 50% upfront with a local move, but never the entire amount.
- Consistently not communication: A moving company should have staff dedicated to answering the phone or online messages. If a company rarely answers or communicates with you prior to a move, that’s a huge red flag.
- The price seems too good to be true: A common tactic of predatory movers is to quote a low amount over the phone or via email and then bump up the price when they see the load or, worse, when they arrive at the final destination. When a company stands behind their original quote and provides good value, they’ll want to get a look at your belongings and quote you the going rate. You should always know the cost of the move before they start loading your boxes. Remember: in the moving industry, cheaper is not always better.
- Not offering to do a visual survey of your belongings: With small, straightforward moves, a telephone or internet quote may sometimes suffice, but when moving a large household, a visual inspection is vital to ensure an accurate quote. If a virtual or in-person walk-through isn’t even offered, consider that a red flag since it’s probably an excuse to underestimate the move and charge more after it’s too late for you to back out.
- Showing up without uniforms, logos, or identification: As professionals, movers or any representatives from the moving company who show up at your home should be wearing a uniform and have proper identification. Not seeing a company name on the truck can also be a red flag if you haven’t already verified the movers some other way.
- Telling you they will determine the price after loading your stuff: Always get a written estimate before hiring a moving company. This is why a visual survey of your items is so important. Save the paperwork from the original quote in case there is a discrepancy on moving day.
To learn more about how to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable, trustworthy local moving company, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website. You’ll find more detailed information there for protecting yourself from moving fraud.
More Ways to Make Your Local Move Easier
Once you’ve booked your move, it’s time to start preparing for the big day. Sorting through and packing up everything you own can feel like a monumental task; however, following our Local Moving Checklist will tell you what to do and when.
As you prepare for your move, it’s vital to select a local company that offers the services you need since some moves involve more help from the moving crew than just the standard moving package. For example, you may need full or partial packing services or have items that require special care. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to ask about a mover’s specialty services and choose a company that is experienced with your type of move.
For example, if you’re moving to or from an upstairs apartment or condo, it’s a good idea to go with experienced apartment movers. If you’re a senior, you’ll be happy to know that MoveDay offers senior moving services to meet the safety needs of our mature customers so you can avoid unnecessary stress and heavy lifting while preparing for your relocation. Our highly trained crews are dedicated to ensuring that our customers of every age have a positive experience.
An issue that sometimes comes up when planning the logistics of a move is storage. Maybe you need to be out of your old house before your new home is ready, or maybe you’re thinning down your possessions for staging purposes while your home is on the market. Our declutter and store service has become increasingly popular due to competitive real estate markets. In these situations, and many others, short- or long-term storage is often needed.
If you think you may need storage, be sure to select a moving and storage company that offers the kind of storage services you need, such as temperature-controlled storage for antiques or other sensitive items. Perhaps you just need the movers to keep the load on the truck for a few days, which is referred to in the moving industry as “storage-in-transit.” Whether you need storage for a few days or a few years, MoveDay has you covered.
Traditionally, moving paperwork has been done primarily with a pen and paper. However, all that loose paper sometimes results in delays, mix-ups, and even lost items. MoveDay’s innovative personal move portal allows you to track your belongings online in real time and keep abreast of any changes to your move.
The portal also allows you to meet your moving crew virtually and access their profiles and customer satisfaction ratings. That way, you’ll have peace of mind knowing who to expect at the door on moving day.
Your moving portal will eliminate the need for a bulky moving binder and digging through paperwork during an already stressful time. All this technology was designed with one purpose: to give you peace of mind about the logistics of the move so you can focus on your new home.
Book Your Move Early
As soon as you know you will be moving and have an approximate timeframe in mind, you should schedule your relocation as soon as possible. This is particularly important during the peak moving season, which is between March and September. The earlier you reserve your desired moving date the better. Local moving companies get booked fast, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you have plenty of time just because you’re only moving a short distance.
Declutter Before Packing
Decluttering before a move will save you both time and money. Getting rid of items you no longer use or need will not only decrease the size of your load (meaning your move will cost less), but you’ll have less to pack. Work through one room at a time, sorting items into categories such as toss, keep, sell, or donate. Stay motivated by envisioning yourself in your new home enjoying a simpler life without all the clutter.
Start Packing Early
People tend to underestimate the time it takes to pack up an entire home, which is why it’s best to start early. About four to six weeks before the move, begin by packing rarely used or seasonal items. Aim to spend at least an hour a day packing.
Pack Items Securely
When boxing up your belongings for a local move, you might be tempted to take shortcuts, but don’t! Your items will be handled during loading and unloading and may also shift on the truck. While professional movers are trained to handle your things with the utmost care and load them in such a way as to prevent movement, it’s still important to wrap fragile items and box everything up securely.
Make sure your items are clean and dry before packing them and avoid leaving space in the boxes. Lastly, secure each box with packing tape and then label it. Clearly marking each box with the room it belongs in will make it easier for the movers to do their job.
Pack an “Open First” Box
While the focus when packing tends to be more on getting everything out of the old house, make things easier for yourself on the other end by packing an “open first” or “essentials” box with the items you will need when you first arrive. These items could include:
- Cleaning supplies
- Bottled water
Even with a relatively straightforward local move, moving day tends to creep up on you. Fortunately, local moving companies like MoveDay offer professional packing services, which may be something to consider if it’s within your budget. Our packing options are affordable as well as timesaving. We use top-of-the-line packing materials and boxes, and our expertly trained crew will optimize packing to save space. If you let us do the packing, you won’t have to purchase your own packing materials or spend hours on something you’d probably rather not be doing.
Local Movers You Can Trust
The best movers are reputable and reliable as well as affordable. MoveDay is a professional, licensed local moving company with expert teams prepared to handle even the most challenging moves. All our moving crews have been through a background check and are expertly trained in-house. We offer customizable services designed around your unique needs and we’re always transparent with our pricing. We offer a variety of local moving services to fit your budget and you’ll only pay for the services you need.
For example, we offer packing services or partial packing in case you either don’t feel like packing or have simply run out of time. Or perhaps you already have a truck lined up and just need a helping hand with loading and unloading.
We offer labor-only moving packages for your convenience, and they aren’t designed to upsell you services you don’t want or need. Whether you want a full-service move or just specific services, our team is here to help. Best of all, there are no hidden fees. Before it’s time to make the final decision, you’ll know exactly how much your move will cost.
Planning a relocation to a new home is exciting, but don’t risk a lifetime’s worth of belongings to just any movers. It’s vital to go with experienced, trustworthy professionals that you can count on to stand by their promises. Leveraging over 100 years of experience, MoveDay has the insight and expertise to make your dream of a virtually carefree move a reality.
If you’re preparing for a local move in the near future, contact us today with any questions or fill out our form to schedule your free, no-obligation moving estimate.