Finding a moving company that fits your move criteria and your budget takes some careful consideration and smart comparison shopping. To make sure that your belongings are placed in the hands of an experienced team of movers, you'll need to follow the right steps to narrow down the field and we'll show you how to do it in five easy steps.
1. Get recommendations four to six months in advance
You should begin looking for movers at least several months in advance, especially if you are moving during peak season (May to September). Moving companies' schedules fill up quickly during this period, because it is the most popular time of the year to move. To ensure you can secure a reservation, give yourself a sufficient amount of time to compare and research potential companies.
The market is flooded with moving companies competing for your attention and your business, so it can be easy to fall prey to an unprofessional, unethical company with all the movers that are vying for your dollar. Knowing how to search is key.
- Start online. With endless amounts of information at your fingertips, you can start with a general search for movers in your area, then narrow your search based on further research on the companies you find. Use the Movers.com quote form for FREE quotes from up to seven different moving services in your area.
- Verbal recommendations. Any information from people you trust will be helpful, so ask neighbors, family members, friends and coworkers if they have moved recently. Someone may offer a good company for your consideration.
- Customer reviews. Reading reviews and testimonials from real customers can be extremely valuable. The more info you can glean about a certain company, the better your decision-making process will go. It's important to see what other people are saying about the particular companies you're considering.
2. Narrow your search down to at least three movers
The best way to narrow your search for a moving company is to find three movers in your area that you believe best fit your criteria for your move. Then, from those three, break down the pros and cons of their services to help you decide. The more options you have to compare, the better your chance will be to secure the best price as well as availability on your chosen date.
Ask each company you are considering plenty of questions, including if they charge extra fees for stair carries, long carries and packing supplies.
While everyone wants to save a little money, you should always be skeptical of a mover that offers an unusually low quote. This often a red flag for a common moving scam -- the company offers an enticingly-cheap estimates, secures the customer's service and then hikes up the price exponentially prior to delivery. If the customer refuses to pay, the mover will hold the goods random and deny delivery until the bill is paid in full. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Show a surveyor what you plan on moving
The best way to get estimates is in-person. Simply put, an in-home estimate is when the moving company comes to your home to assess your belongings and give you the most accurate estimate possible. Be wary of moving companies that insist on phone estimates only.
It's helpful to familiarize yourself with the moving estimate process before you begin this step, as well as with the different types of estimates that you will typically receive from moving companies.
There are three main types of moving estimates that you may encounter during this process:
- Binding estimates: The price quoted in the estimate is the amount you pay, even if your shipment weighs more than the estimated amount or less than the estimated amount.
- Non-binding estimates: Most commonly given by moving companies, non-binding estimates means the price presented to you is a projected cost for your move, provided to help you anticipate the cost. It is not a guaranteed price, just what the company thinks the final price of your move will be based on the inventory and services you discussed.
- Binding not-to-exceed estimates: They stipulate that a moving company cannot charge a customer more than what the original estimate states, but they can charge less if the total shipment ends up being smaller than what was initially anticipated.
4. Comparing more than just the estimates from movers
Don't make a decision solely based on price. Although rates can be a major factor, the company that is the cheapest does not necessarily provide the best service. You can end up sorely disappointed if you choose on numbers alone.
Other things to consider when comparing quotes:
- Years of operation in the industry
- How their employees are trained
- Any oustanding complaints on the company
- Experience with specialty items
- What they include with their service
5. Verify the moving company's credentials
Once you've narrowed down your search and gotten estimates, the next step is to do a background check to make sure they are operating legally. Depending on the laws in your state, your local moving company is required to have certain licensing credentials to operate. Ask any potential moving company to provide proof that they are properly licensed and registered.
- Most states require that local carries have a USDOT number.
- Others only mandate the company is registered with the state department of transportation.
- If you are moving across state lines, the company will need to have relevant licensing in both states.
- Find out if they are accepted by the Better Business Bureau.
- You can also ask the companies for references; most reputable moving services will have plenty of customers or affiliates that can vouch for great service.