Moving households is complicated and it may consume all your free time for several months. That's why you want to take a realistic look at what you can do personally and where you need help. Do you plan to pack yourself (hint: it takes much longer than you can imagine) or just clear out the clutter before the movers come to pack you up? Have you got enough friends that will help if you decide to rent a moving truck but what if they don't show up?
A well planned move starts with a plan and time line so you know what needs to happen when. When you put this plan together and see how much work is involved, it's likely you'll want to explore working with a mover. Once you've decided what you'll do and where you want help, it's time to select your mover. These tips will help you find that mover.
How to Choose a Mover
… by Kerri Hart, Atlas Van Lines
You’re moving to a new home, and you’re going to need help. So, how do you choose a moving company? Whether this is your first move — or you’ve pulled up stakes so many times your only permanent address is your email inbox, your choice of mover can greatly influence how happily you settle in. Here are practical tips for selecting a moving company to make your family’s transition run as smoothly as possible for the entire family.
Define your expectations.
Do you want your movers to take care of everything? Full service moving companies can provide a total moving service for packing, loading, transportation, unloading and unpacking. Are there some aspects you wish to handle yourself? You may choose to pack certain items. Or, you may even decide to pack and load everything yourself and have the moving company provide transportation. If so, a moving container service may be your best option.
Ask for recommendations.
A good place to start is with the people you trust. Tell friends and family members about your plans and ask for their recommendations of moving companies. If you’re starting from scratch, the phone book can help you identify local movers. However, you may learn more by conducting a local search on the Internet. Search for “Moving Companies” or “Moving Company Reviews”.
Do your homework.
As you search, look for credentials that represent ethical practices. For example, the ProMover designation shows a company meets standards for fairness set by the American Moving and Storage Association. (AMSA is an industry organization that represents moving professionals and works for the protection of consumers.) Most reputable moving companies conduct background checks on their employees. This ensures the people serving you meet an objective, verifiable standard for character.
You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see a company’s reliability rating and its record of handling consumer complaints. At the very least, make sure any interstate mover you consider is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and has a US Department of Transportation number. This information should be obvious in the moving company’s marketing materials and on its website.
Ask movers you're talking to for their USDOT and check the Safety and Fitness Electronic Record (SAFER) System to see that they're registered for the type of move you're planning. For residential moves, you'll want to be sure they're qualified to move “Household Goods” and they're able to operate Interstate when you're crossing state lines.
Get an estimate.
Once you have identified the moving company that appears to meet your expectations, you’re ready to ask for an estimate. Depending on your personal preference, you can do this over the phone or e-mail. Atlas Van Lines is a national moving company that provides an instant moving quote to help with your initial planning.
To receive the most accurate estimate, be sure to have an in-home estimate as well. To prepare an accurate estimate, a moving company representative will visit your home to see exactly what is to be moved. During the visit, communicate your expectations of service, including when you would like pickup and delivery to take place. Ask how the mover can be contacted before, during, and after the move. Find out what the mover’s responsibilities are for damages that may occur to your belongings. Understand your coverage options and the cost for protection against loss.
Review the estimate.
Once you have the estimate, review it, and if any part of the estimate seems unclear, ask for an explanation. Besides cost, take into consideration the professionalism of the company and the overall impression you have after going through the estimation process. As with most things in life, the lowest cost is not always the best value; the quality you want often costs a little more.
Approach your decision logically and methodically, using the steps outlined above. You’ll be prepared to choose the right mover for your family.
Good luck! Take photos and come back to share your story.
Kerri Hart is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Atlas Van Lines. Kerri is finding new ways to help Atlas customers with their moves, from families, to businesses, government and military along with their employees who are moving. Many changes have occurred since Atlas started helping homeowners relocate in 1948. We invite you learn more about our company and our agents serving homeowners around the world.