The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that only about a third of all internet moving brokers meet federal registration requirements. That means that two out of three moving companies are operating outside the rules. Yet, most people start their search for a mover online. Yes, there are many reputable companies to be found online. The company you hire will most assuredly have a website. But, find your mover the old fashioned way: ask for referrals.
To find a good referral, start in your own neighborhood. Has anyone moved in lately? Call them or knock on their door; they will likely have a story to tell about their move. Call a local Realtor. They hear all the stories about who is good and who to stay away from. Many large real estate companies will have a Relocation Department that contracts with corporations to handle the real estate end of relocating employees. These Relocation Departments know who the good movers are. How about friends and family? Even if they have not moved recently, they may know someone who has.
If you cannot get a referral for a mover, my recommendation is to stick with one of the top six nationwide moving companies. I suggest this not because they are better than the smaller companies; I suggest this because they have claims systems and insurance in place in case something goes wrong. I found these companies to be efficient in the way their claims were handled. Having said that, be aware that since I was involved, that means there was damage to be assessed. It is important to know that if there is damage, you will not be swept under the rug. The top seven companies are (in no particular order) United Van Lines, Mayflower, Allied, North American, Global Van Lines, and Graebel. Most national moving companies work through a network of locally owned affiliates. The quality and efficiency of the local affiliates will vary. Claims will be centralized.
Remember, a well known name is no guarantee of performance. The bottom line is this: it does not matter what the name on the truck is. What matters is the quality of the people who show up to do the work and the efficiency and reliability of the system used to get your goods moved. The sad fact is, in America no one wants to be a mover. It is hard work and it does not pay very well. Consequently, movers do not consider the job a career. It is considered temporary employment until they find something better. Usually the only career professional involved in your move will be the driver. It is rare to find packers and movers that have uninterrupted years of service. Do not be fooled by a salesman who says that their people are well trained professionals. In the busy season, your movers will likely be part time or temporary workers who are long on attitude and short on skill.
Choose at least three companies from which to get an estimate, but do not make your decision yet. In a future article, I will show you how to check out the companies safety record and check the reliability of their price estimate.
Originally posted 2009-11-06 17:50:00.