Choosing a Good Mover
Moving your home is often quoted as being one of the most stressful life experiences. The whole process of packing up our belongings, leaving our home and moving to new surroundings is tough enough - we also have to entrust our possessions and their transport to strangers.
The problem is we don't tend to move often enough in our lives to make it a process we get used to. We're generally all novices when it comes to moving and it shows. But, like any process, moving can be a successful experience if approached with careful planning and research.
Choosing a good moving company like Hansen Bros. Moving & Storage is critical to a successful move. We've all heard horror stories from friends and families about unprofessional companies and it's vital to sort the good from the bad early in the process. Choosing the wrong company can cost you time, money and heartache.
Moving companies can offer you a wide range of services beyond transporting your belongings. These can include packing, the sale or hire of packing materials, unpacking and storage facilities. Some companies like Hansen Bros. will even pack your possessions, transport them, clean your new home, unpack your possessions and arrange them at the other end according to your instructions.
As a guideline you should choose your moving company at least 4-8 weeks before your moving day. If you wait too long, you may find that the company you want is fully booked and you will have to choose another company that may not be able to meet all of your needs. It's far better to choose and book your company as far in advance as possible. You should be talking to your shortlist as soon as you have an estimated moving day. Bear in mind that movers are often busy during the summer months, at the end of the month, on Fridays, and on weekends.
To make the best choice, you need to think about what you want from a move - and the first thing you should do before contacting moving companies is to make a quick checklist of what you need them to do. This list will help you get the most accurate estimates, as you'll be able to be very exact about your needs. Examples include:
- Your preferred moving dates
- Are you looking to move locally, long-distance or, even internationally?
- Do you want help with packing, want to hire/buy packing materials or simply want to pack up yourself?
- Will you need the moving company to transport valuable or fragile items?
- Do you just want to hire a vehicle to move yourself?
- Do you need storage facilities?
- How much stuff do you have?
- How much insurance will you need?
The best way to find a reliable moving company is by recommendation or reputation. You do still need to be careful, however. If a local moving company successfully moved your mother-in-law across town, they won't necessarily have the skills, resources and experience to move you internationally, for example. If you're looking to move relatively close to home then a quick and easy way to spot local companies is to keep your eyes peeled on the street as soon as you start thinking about moving. You'll see the vehicles of certain movers time and time again and you can take some comfort from the fact that they are busy.
Many of us will simply pick a moving company from a Yellow Pages type directory or from an Internet search. Some of us will simply choose a known name - i.e. a national company - and others may opt for a smaller local company. In all cases, it's especially wise to choose companies that have taken the time and trouble to become accredited members of a moving association or trade body. You can assume from this that they take themselves seriously and you can probably do the same too. They will probably have to adhere to certain standards and you'll have recourse to action if you do have problems. But you should still beware - if you are at all suspicious, check out their membership. You can even ask them for referrals from previous satisfied customers. You don't have to follow up on this but, if the company seem less than keen to let you talk to people they've dealt with in the past, then you need to start thinking hard about whether they're right for you.
It's wise to draw up a quick list before you start talking to moving companies, as you don't really want to be thinking on your feet here. Document how many rooms you have, list big items of furniture and try to estimate how many boxes you'll be packing. The easiest way to do this is to mentally go through every room in your house, list the big items and then work out how many boxes it'll take to remove the rest of the stuff in the room. Don't forget to think about garden furniture and the contents of your garage! Don't worry about it being exactly right - the moving companies don't expect it. But it won't suit either of you if you get it completely wrong and they send a mini-sized vehicle for a juggernaut-sized job! If in doubt ask a couple of the moving companies for advice on how to estimate. You'll be surprised at how helpful they'll be - some, like Hansen Bros. will happily send estimators to your home to put together an estimate.
When evaluating moving companies, don't just look at price but look at what they'll offer you for the cost. It may be more cost effective to pay a little more to get more services. Don't be afraid to ask them about how long they've been in business, their experience or for customer referrals. Talk to them about how long it will take to move you. DO ask them about their insurance cover and claims protection and how far it extends (and doesn't!). You should NEVER choose a moving company that doesn't have adequate insurance. It's also important to get an estimate in writing and to make sure that you completely understand how the estimate works. This is one of the times in your life when it really does pay to read the small print. For example, some moving companies won't cover you for damage if you pack goods yourself unless they play an obvious role in damaging them. You must make sure that they not only explain your quote to you but that you get a full copy that includes any relevant terms and conditions, bills of lading etc. It's also good to ask how many people will be assigned to your move - the more there are, the quicker it'll go.
Once you have talked to your shortlist of moving companies and have read through their estimates, you'll be ready to make your choice. While price is an important factor to consider, choose the company with which you feel most comfortable. Once you've made a decision you'll be asked to sign your estimate. All you need to do now is get ready for your moving day - just don't forget to give your movers a call a few days beforehand to confirm your arrangements!
The moving industry is highly regulated and it is important to choose a 'legal' mover that has the appropriate licensure. In Washington State, you can check to see if a mover is licensed by visiting WUTC.