Making a move, whether for a home or a business, means lots of preparation — and even more packing. When juggling a move and enlisting the help of professionals, it's important to have full trust in the company you choose, as you'll be placing some of your most prized and cherished possessions in their hands.
Before hiring professional movers to help with your relocation, here are five key questions to keep in mind.
The moving industry is heavily regulated, so companies are technically required to be licensed — although some still try to operate without having one. For those in the midst of relocation, dealing with movers who aren't licensed and insured could put your property at risk.
While money might be saved up front, you risk driving up the final cost due to damages a moving company without insurance won't be able or willing to cover.
"Say the property is damaged, and the company doesn't have any insurance. You might get stuck with a mover that damages your $4,000 couch — you didn't really save any money," said Larry Hinnant, a managing partner of Miracle Movers, a Raleigh-based moving, packing, and storage company. "Another thing to consider is, let's say that I'm moving you, and I'm not a licensed and insured mover. I fall down your stairs, and I can sue you, the homeowner."
In working with a licensed and insured moving company, you'll be protecting both yourself and your possessions from harm.
Not only does working with a locally owned company help stimulate the economy in the area, but it also means if any issues come along, you'll be able to easily communicate with the movers. Not only that, but working with a local company helps avoid any chance of being scammed out of extra money or possessions — which, according to Hinnant, is more common than you might think.
"There are a lot of schemes out there. There are even stories of people hiring out-of-town companies, and they come and load their stuff up, collect their money, then never deliver it," said Hinnant. "If you aren't careful and don't work with a company you cant trust, you could end up literally paying someone to steal your stuff."
Feedback from previous clients is one of the most surefire ways to gauge the trustworthiness of any company, and moving companies are no exception. While reading reviews, Hinnant suggests using a discerning eye to determine whether or not reviews were written by actual customers.
"If you go through some of our reviews, you'll see people say specific names and details of their experience — that tells me that's a real review," said Hinnant. "And not only should you read the reviews, but if the company takes the time to respond — to either good or bad reviews — and acknowledge the time it took to write that, then that owner is really in touch with what's going on."
Other things to look out for in reviews include repeated complaints that could hint at a pattern, as well as any letter grades available from the Better Business Bureau.
Not all moving companies offer warehouse access, but you may want to consider the benefits of working with one that does. First, it shows the company has taken the time and financial means needed to lease or purchase a large amount of space and put down roots in the community. Second, it also typically means an increase in the quality of service — at least in Hinnant's case.
"For us specifically, if we were to come in and move you, everything gets packed, pad-wrapped, and shrink-wrapped, then inventoried. Then it gets put into our storage exactly like that, and you get a copy of that inventory," said Hinnant. "You know everything's insured, it's in storage, and then when it comes out, you're going to have another inventory to match up to your first inventory so nothing gets lost."
While some moving companies may offer warehouse service, it's not something they readily advertise — in fact, it may only be available by special request. In working with a moving company that provides a warehouse and inventory, you can ensure you'll get everything back exactly the way you left it.
Not everyone needs warehouse storage, and many moving companies are able to customize their service to exactly what you need.
"We can do pretty much anything, whether it's just providing a few extra hands for labor-only service to a full-service move," said Hinnant. "If you say, 'Hey, I don't want to touch anything. I want my dishes packed and unpacked individually,' we can do that. We will unpack your boxes and move all the boxes away, so you don't have to worry about the trash filling up your dumpster."
Most moving companies price on a time basis, meaning you'll be charged based on how long the labor lasts. Without an in-person estimate beforehand to determine how long it will take, the cost can vary greatly. Before choosing a moving company to work with, make sure they're able to provide an in-person or remote estimate beforehand.
"It's time-based, so you need to know if it's going to cost you $1,500 or $4,000? What does that look like? How many extra hands will you need? Will it take one truck, or do I need multiple trucks," said Hinnant. "When we come by and check exactly what you have that needs to be moved, we can then get you a more accurate estimate."
The right moving company will work with you beforehand, ironing out any bumps in the road so moving day goes stress-free.
"We're very prepared, so that when we show up, our crews know what they're walking into, and it's a very smooth process," said Hinnant. "Moving day doesn't become this stressed out disaster, and you can have a higher level of service and a more positive overall experience. At the end of the day, we do what we can to make your move as seamless as possible."
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