How to find a mover you can trust doesn’t need to be complicated. Whether you’re moving to the next city over or to the other side of the country, relocation can be one of the most stressful events of your life. The last thing you want is to leave your possessions in the wrong hands. Unprofessional and underprepared movers only cause unwanted problems, and in particularly unlucky situations, your belongings may even be stolen by deceitful companies.
Achieve peace of mind throughout this process and follow these top 10 tips to find a reputable moving company you can trust to deliver your belongings from point A to point B with no problems:
1. Ask Family & Friends for Recommendations
Recommendations from family and friends whose opinions you value can factor heavily in your ultimate decision. People don’t hold back their opinions – especially if they’ve had a bad experience with a company. When people focus less on the good and more on the bad and the ugly, it’s a sign to pass on partnering with that mover. And if a specific company is highly recommended, follow up with these questions to gather more details:
- What did they like about the moving company?
- What was the determining factor in their decision to choose this company?
- What services did they request from the mover?
- Were there any hiccups in the moving process?
- Was there anything they didn’t like about the service?
- Would they use this moving company again?
These are all useful questions to help create a complete picture of their moving experience from start to finish. If your family and friends were satisfied with the service they received, it’s likely you will be, too.
2. Confirm They’re a Mover, NOT a Broker
To find a mover you can really trust, confirm you’re entering into an agreement with a real moving company, not a broker. A moving broker is not licensed to transport your belongings; rather, they book your move and then sell that booking information to a moving company.
There is inherently more risk when working with a moving broker, the riskiest factor being the inability to choose the company that will actually be transporting your possessions. It will also be difficult to assign liability to either of the parties in the event of damage or loss as both the broker and mover typically point fingers at each other. Finally, cost estimates from a broker can be horribly inaccurate as they are handled over the phone; the real cost oftentimes is considerably higher. Needless to say, partnering with a moving company instead of a broker ensures you will have full confidence in the team you’ve personally selected.
3. Research the Moving Company (Who Are They?)
While this may seem like the most obvious tip of the bunch, it’s one of the most important. Always thoroughly investigate any and all moving companies you are considering. You need to know who they are if you’re going to trust them with your possessions. Determine if they’re a new business or an established one. Are you able to find a lot of information about the mover? Or is trying to find information like searching for a needle in a haystack?
It’s logical to infer that the more established a business is, the more information you should be able to find online about them (and more than just their company website). A moving company should be open and honest about who they are, how much experience they have, why they are qualified to help you, and how their customers perceive them. Movers that are transparent about their business practices tend to be more trustful than those aren’t.
4. Consult Federal & State Resources
Just because a company claims to be legit, doesn’t mean they actually are. Consult additional federal and state resources to make sure the moving company is a legitimate, reputable business. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has compiled a database of interstate movers that provides details about the location of the moving company’s headquarters and contact information. It also specifies whether or not they are properly licensed and registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation as well as offers a history of any customer or safety complaints when applicable.
If you’re moving cities within your state, then it’s best to educate yourself on your state’s requirements as local moving companies are subject to that state’s specific regulations. Typically, searching for “[state] moving company database” will result in a selection of resources you can use to check if the moving company is in compliance with local laws.
5. Verify the Mover is Licensed and Insured
All reputable movers must be licensed by the United States Department of Transportation (search for your moving company here to verify) and have the proper workers’ compensation insurance. Never employ a moving company that is not licensed and/or not insured. A mover won’t have up-to-date (or any) insurance if they’re a part-time mover, are unable to afford it, or have simply neglected to get it. These are movers you don’t want to work with. Why? If a worker is hurt on your property and your mover is uninsured, then you could be held legally liable for all medical costs – a bill you definitely don’t want to foot.
To avoid such a costly situation, ask your moving company to provide proof of insurance issued by their insurance carrier in the form of an “Insurance Certificate.” Any reputable mover should happily provide you with proof of their current policy. If they’re reluctant to share or provide outdated information, it’s a glaring red flag and a sign to cut ties immediately.
6. Reviews Matter – Check Them Out
While recommendations from family and friends are helpful, it’s also beneficial to check what the internet has to say. Read what previous customers posted about their moving experience on various review platforms, including Yelp and Yellow Pages along with reviews posted to the company’s own Facebook and Google profiles. Check if they’re BBB accredited and browse their profile for unresolved customer complaints. A reputable moving company should have a satisfactory rating supported by a record of responding to and resolving any complaints.
To keep your research relevant, sort reviews to show the most recent. A comment from 1 or 2 years ago likely won’t be as applicable as one from 1 or 2 months ago. Also be mindful when comparing positive and negative reviews. Most companies, especially larger ones, are expected to have a couple of bad reviews (in fact, approach with caution if all reviews are rated 5 stars; this could be an indicator of fake reviews), so don’t let those carry too much weight in your decision.
The goal is to find a moving company with a large percentage of glowing reviews that also responds respectfully to negative reviews and attempts to rectify the situation. A red flag is raised when a significant portion of customers experienced similar issues and are unsatisfied.
7. Visit Their Office to Meet Them in Person
Now that you have thoroughly vetted the moving company online, it’s time to take your research offline. Stop by their office for a visit. A trustworthy mover should have a physical address at which they handle business and will warmly welcome your visit to discuss how the services they offer can help you in your move. Avoid moving companies that do not list a business address as it may be difficult to track them down in the event of a problem. It’s easy for a company to ignore your calls, but it’s not as easy to ignore a dissatisfied customer that visits their office to talk face to face.
Furthermore, how a company presents itself in the real world is just as important as (if not more important than) their online presence. Your experience at the actual place of business provides insight that can’t be gained through online research. Here are a few questions to ask yourself during your visit:
- Is the lobby clean and tidy, or is it disorganized and needs a good dusting?
- Are the employees friendly and polite, or are they standoffish?
- Are the moving trucks in tip-top shape, or is there significant wear and tear?
These are important factors to take into consideration before choosing the moving team you’d prefer to work with.
8. Get an In-Home Estimate
In order for a mover to calculate an accurate estimate, they must see for themselves the belongings that need to be shipped. An in-home estimate allows the mover to understand the full scope of the task. In addition to cost, the amount of manpower needed to load and unload the trucks as well as drive them must be determined. This assessment also presents an additional opportunity to further familiarize yourself with the mover and inquire about the employees who will be responsible for handling your possessions.
Warning: An estimate given by email or during a phone call without having evaluated the moving load is likely not to be accurate. It could result in unexpected delays in your move due to reserving the wrong size truck or employing a too small moving crew. You also are likely to end up paying much more than was initially quoted due to these errors. If a mover does not offer an in-home estimate or refuses to complete one, they are not a reputable moving company.
9. Request a Cost Breakdown of the Estimate
So you have a completed in-home estimate – now what? Request a cost breakdown. Reputable moving companies charge based on the weight of the shipment as opposed to the number of cubic feet the cargo occupies. Charging by cubic feet is easily abused by dishonest companies who significantly overcharge unsuspecting customers. In fact, this practice is now illegal in many states. Only partner with movers who charge per pound.
Every moving company will quote a different price, so it’s vital to know how companies calculated the number. It’s especially handy when comparing estimates from multiple movers. Although the individual estimates will differ, they should fall within the same ballpark if estimated for the same shipment weight and services. A quote that’s significantly less may seem like a good deal at first, but it could be a sign of subpar service. Requesting and comparing this information helps you make the final decision on which mover you trust to transport your possessions to your new home.
10. Assess Their Transparency on Responsibility & Accountability
Lastly, when moving between states, a moving company is required to give you this booklet: Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move. The booklet breaks down the terms and conditions of moving contracts as well as actions you should take to resolve issues that may arise. It further outlines services and documents your mover is required to provide. This includes written estimates for every shipment, their process for handling claims, and liability coverage in the event of lost or damaged items.
If a mover doesn’t offer you this booklet (especially after they’ve learned you’re moving state-to-state and have completed an in-house estimate), it’s the last red flag and your last chance to cut ties. If a company is reluctant to be transparent about the responsibilities of all parties involved, then it’s likely they’re attempting to avoid accountability when things go wrong. A moving company you can trust will be 100% transparent.