What to look for when choosing a moving company

When it comes time to choose a company to handle your move, you'd be forgiven for putting blind trust in one company because of the claims they make in their advertising. Moving is stressful, and when you're planning a stressful move, you're likely to take anyone at their word if they say they can make a move easier for you.

With that said, resist your impulse to say yes to the first company who offers a helping hand. With some research and due diligence on your part, you can find a moving company who backs up their boasts with excellent service. Here are a few simple tips to help you choose the best moving company for your next move:

Nothing Beats Word-of-Mouth

Service businesses rely on word-of-mouth advertising, and for movers, this is especially true. If a customer doesn't have an excellent experience with a moving company, they won't recommend those movers to their friends and peers.

If you have a friend or colleague who recently went through a move, don't take their word lightly. If they had a good experience with a company, that should be something you take into account when you make your final decision.

To supplement the reviews of those around you, use review sites like AngiesList.com and Google Reviews to read up on other people's experiences with the moving companies you're considering. Pay special attention to those reviewers that gave in-depth reviews of each step of the moving process. Was the team professional? Did their quotes match up with the final price of the move? Did they move everything securely?

Make Sure Movers Are Licensed and Insured

Local, Long distance, and overseas moves have a variety of regulatory hurdles that movers must remain compliant with in order to offer their services to you legally. Hiring a licensed, compliant, and experienced mover can also offer you a great deal in the way of peace of mind during a process that can be very stressful.

If the move is local, find out the local regulatory body that oversees movers in your area and contact them. If you're dealing with an interstate move, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) handles licensing and has an online database you can use to check the compliance of the companies you're considering.

Secondly, make sure that you have valuation during the move. Hopefully, while you were reading reviews, you eliminated any company with complaints about breaking customers' belongings, but it only takes one mistake to ruin a move.

While many insurance companies offer stand-alone policies or riders on your home insurance to cover moves where valuable property is being transported, secure movers will be insured, at least to a certain dollar amount, in the event that anything you own is damaged during the move.

Do Some Background Research

By now, you've narrowed your choice down a little. You've picked a few companies with great reviews and made sure that their teams are fully licensed and insured for your prospective job. Now it's time for a little due diligence.

First, check with your local chamber of commerce or the Better Business Bureau to see whether or not this company has registered any complaints with customers for shady business practices. If they have a profile with the BBB, what is their grade? Do they show up in any watchdog sites about moving scams?

This is the time to keep an eye out for any red flags around the company. It's recommended to choose a local mover, or at least one with a physical location; online businesses are more likely to be scams. Other red flags include:

  • Estimates for your move that seem way too high or low compared the competition

  • An unreasonably high deposit

  • Requests to sign additional contracts without the ability to read through them

Movers are required to provide you with the FMCSA booklet "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," but the content can be viewed here.

Compare Estimates

Finally, it's time to compare the movers that have passed your other three tests based on the value of their services. Each company should provide an estimate after an in-home or virtual consultation, in which you walk them through everything that needs to be moved.

Compare the estimates you receive, but make sure you take note of anything that a specific company throws in to add value to their estimate. If company A will move your stuff for less than company B, then A should be your choice, but if B also throws in packing and unpacking free of charge, this should be something you consider as well.

In the end, price should be a deciding factor only after you've vetted a company's background, read reviews, and made sure the companies on your final list are all legally allowed to move your stuff, either across town or between states.