How to Choose a Mover: 10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Moving Company

Did you know May is National Moving Month? Not a highly celebrated occasion, but over 40 million of us will be swapping in the barbeque tongs for packing tape this month. May is the kick-off to the busy moving season. So for those of you moving this season, the best start to a smooth move is hiring a trusted moving company.

Image via NorthStar Moving Company
Image via NorthStar Moving Company

How do you find a mover you can count on? Of course the first step is to search on HomeAdvisor.com. Once you have the list of results in front of you, how do you know which mover to pick? Would you handover your grandmother’s baby grand piano or your prized shoe collection into any stranger’s hands? Make sure you talk to the moving company first. Here are the tips to make you an expert on hiring a mover.

First, when choosing a moving company, reputation is crucial.  A great reputation saves you time and money. And, a great reputation equals great rates. No one ever says: “oh yes, I LOVE this moving company. They just made me over pay for their awful service.” Hardly, the makings of a five star glowing review. So, if you take away only one tip: Choose your mover based on reputation.

Asking key questions is also critical; it not only uncovers a wealth of knowledge about the company and helps prepare you for moving day, but a little extra research can save you from a huge hassle in the long run. Here are some surefire questions to ask before hiring a mover:

  1. How long has the moving company been in business? Experience counts and a long track record shows their ability to deliver each and every time. They have moved countless kids clay handprints and know they are simply irreplaceable: no amount of insurance is going to ever give you those back.
  2. Are they licensed? If you are looking for a moving company to move you from state to state, the moving company should have a US DOT number, which is a unique license number issued by the United States Department of Transportation. Make sure your mover’s DOT number is valid by searching it in this database. If you’re looking for a moving company to move you within your own state, they need your state’s licensing.
  3. Is the company insured? Verify that the company is insured on the same website you use to check their license number. Never use a moving company without a license number or insurance. Think underage unlicensed buzzed teenage driver at the wheel of a semi-truck. Not a good idea, right? Neither is an unlicensed or uninsured bunch of folks who call themselves a moving company or group of dudes who really only do moving as a side job. Also, check to see if your household goods and personal items are covered during a move under your homeowners or renters policy. If not, you may want to consider supplemental moving. Movinginsurance.com or moveinsure.com are good resources.
  4. Has the moving company won any awards or accolades for service? Can they show you any letters of recommendation? If they haven’t won any awards for service, chances are they aren’t going to win any awards from you. Remember a great reputation absolutely saves you money. NO ONE gives a glowing review to a company that over promised, under delivered and over charged.
  5. Be sure to check out the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). HomeAdvisor’s reviews and social media sites such as Yelp, Citysearch and TrustLink will also give you a look into other people’s experiences with the company.
  6. Low rates don’t necessarily mean a low final bill. Study rates! What does the mover’s rates really include? Are fuel charges incorporated? Just like the airlines, rates can vary based on season and days of the week. Will they give you a better rate if you move on a Sunday as opposed to a Monday? Repeat your new mantra: Great Reputation equals Great Rates.  Also repeat: No one wins awards or great reviews when they overcharge!
  7. If you are moving out of state, ask the company to explain its consolidation policy and delivery windows in detail. Consolidation is when your belongings are combined with other people’s and shipped together. It’s a great way to save money, but be aware it will add time to the delivery schedule because multiple stops for the other folks’ deliveries are made as your belongings travel across the country. Is the moving company forth coming about the fact that long distance moves almost always involve a delivery window as opposed to an exact delivery date? It’s better to know this upfront so you can pack a suitcase that stays with you. You don’t want to start your new job in your gym shorts or PJs.
  8. Will the moving crew wrap and protect your furniture to prevent damages? How many movers will be on the job? How long will the job take? Are there enough hours in the day? Will you be charged if there is overtime?  By law, a moving company can only give you rates and not estimates on the phone. Does the moving company provide free on-site estimates?
  9. What sort of specialty experience do they have? Are they familiar with high rises and elevators? Have they moved art collections, pianos or new wedding china? Additional men and equipment can mean surprising extra costs.
  10. Ask the movers to measure your doorways, stairways, elevators etc… and take pictures of your new and old home before the move so you can’t be blamed for any damage.

Lastly, let the moving estimator ask YOU questions. If he/she hasn’t asked a single question, yet is ready to give an estimate, turn and run!

Author Bio: Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.