My clients face this moment of truth in every transaction, and at one time or another, we all do. You’re moving.
Maybe it’s a long distance move from California to another state, or a local move within Los Angeles. Perhaps it’s just a teen heading off to college back east. In any case, you’ve decided you need movers — and we can help you find a great moving company by asking some easy questions.
How to decide which company to go with? Don’t worry, I’ll help with questions you can ask to get the right mover.
A great place to start is a recent recommendation from a friend. I stress the word recent; moving companies change hands, and the quality of service varies greatly. Ask what they most liked and disliked about their experience; this will save you from having a similar bad experience. Ask your Realtor if her clients have any trusted recommendations. Next, consult your local yellow pages for a full, complete list of movers servicing your community. The first part of the process will be a phone interview.
When you first talk with movers over the phone, ask for basic information about their company – address, how many employees, are they a member of any moving associations like the American Moving and Storage Association. The answers are not as important as how the moving company treats you: Do they answer every question? Do they appear interested in winning your business?
After you have narrowed down your list of movers to three or four, have them visit your home so they can see what possessions you want moved, as well as other services you need; this gives them a basis for the moving estimate. This ‘in-home survey’ is the ONLY way you will get an accurate assessment of what it will cost you to move.
What do you look for when the moving consultant comes to see you? Most of all, you should TRUST your moving company. To feel comfortable that you can do so, here are the questions you must ask the movers, and the kinds of answers you should get. You are not looking for just the right answer, but how the question is answered – a caring, meticulous salesperson usually represents a caring, meticulous moving company.
1. How long have you been giving moving estimates?
You want someone who has been doing this for awhile. Experience counts for a lot. Ask the salesperson about their background. Were they a driver or did they work in some other aspect of the moving process before being an estimator? The more experience the individual has, the more comfortable you will be that you are getting a true estimate. Let’s be frank: Most salespeople love to talk, so if they are unwilling to discuss their experience, that’s a red flag.
2. How long has your company been around?
If the moving company has been in business for a long time, it is usually a good sign they are doing something right and have been providing good service. You should not base your decision on the time in business alone, but it is a good insight.
3. What pricing options or types of estimates do you offer?
You can learn a lot about the moving company representative – as well as the moving company – by how knowledgeable he or she seems, and how willing they are to take the time to explain your options. If someone rushes through the explanation or seems to not understand the options and how they might apply to your move, you should be a bit concerned.
4. What is my delivery schedule?
You want the answer to be realistic. For long-distance moves especially, it can be difficult to be precise to the exact day. Most movers will ask for the option of a couple days for the delivery period. (A local move will be more precise about timing.) Beware of anyone who offers dates that seem just a bit too good too be true.
5. Does your company do any repeat work for businesses in the area?
Lots of people will ask a moving company for references of individuals who have used their services, but let’s face it – what mover is going to give you a BAD reference? However, if the moving company does a lot of repeat relocation work for a particular business, it is a good sign they consistently do quality work.
6. How will you handle my treasured ______?
If you are moving a treasured heirloom or a large, cumbersome object like a piano, find out how it will be moved. Again, this is another test of the moving consultant’s knowledge, as well as a test of how you can expect to be treated. If they take the time to give you a thoughtful and complete answer, chances are good this is a company that cares about the customer and their possessions. If they can’t handle the piece, ask for a referral. Consider using a specialist for a particular type of move, such as wine or fine art. They’ll know just how to handle your precious possession.
The last question is for you: Is the sales representative just telling you what you want to hear?
You probably do not want to work with someone who disagrees with everything you say, but sometimes the moving consultant may make a suggestion that is different than your thinking. Did what they say make sense? If it did, it’s a good sign, and a good step toward trusting them with your move.