What Makes a Mover Good? The Hallmarks of Quality Moving Companies
Posted Dec 22nd 2023
What Makes a Mover 'Good'? Understand the Hallmarks of Quality Full-Service Moving Companies
Introduction: Choosing a Full-Service Moving Company
Choosing a moving company can often feel like a shot in the dark, especially for those who are new to the process. Many moving companies seem to offer similar services, making it challenging to distinguish a good mover from a mediocre or bad one. While online reviews can provide some insights, they don't always paint the full picture.
When it comes to moving, you deserve a service that's not just good, but exceptional. To help, I'll be breaking down my industry-insider viewpoint on using outward signs to measure the stability of the company and the likelihood that the movers will provide you with good service.
These are factors I use to determine if a mover has built a repeatable pattern of success in moving to give you the best chance at great service.
NOTE: I'm not here to say that movers that don't meet every one of these requirements are bad moving companies, because that's simply not true - but the more of these characteristics that they have, the more likely you're dealing with a "good" mover.
The longevity of a moving company is a crucial indicator of its reliability. Companies that have weathered the economic ups and downs for at least (if not over) 20 years are likely to have developed a robust business model. This experience translates into better customer service, efficient moving timelines, and a higher likelihood of a successful move.
Moving can be tricky, and a surprising number of moving companies go out of business within 18-24 months of forming. It's not only about making customers happy, it's about learning how to train your crew properly, maintain vehicles, build tenured staff, and deal with economic ups and downs. This all takes time. The longer a company has been in business, the longer it's had to fine-tune these types of things, which all make a better experience for you.
Goal: Look for a mover with at least 20 years in business.
Having a Warehouse.
A moving company's commitment and stability are often reflected in its infrastructure, like owning or leasing a large warehouse. A 40,000-square-foot space, for instance, not only signifies a stable business but also indicates that a mover offers added services like storage solutions. These offerings are an essential aspect for many during local or long-distance moves.
It costs a lot of money to lease a warehouse and costs even more to buy one. If the mover you're dealing with has no warehouse, it's a signal that they may still be new. That lack of time or commitment to the business can be a signal that they're not yet fully established.
In fact, that's what many of these tips are about - can this company repeatably earn money from customers over time? If customers over years and years are still willing to come back to a mover, then that means the mover has built a repeatable pattern of success, and that should earn them money that they'll reinvest into making the business better. No warehouse is a warning flag. The bigger the warehouse, the bigger the financial commitment; in this business that indicates they've built a repeatable pattern of success. As a perk, it also means you'll be able to get storage if you need it too!
Goal: Look for a company that has around 40k sq ft of leased or owned warehouse space, or larger.
As someone in the industry, I can learn almost everything I need to know about a mover by the way they keep their office, warehouse, and trucks. The condition of a mover's trucks and equipment mirrors their service quality. A well-kept office and clean trucks indicate attention to detail, suggesting that your belongings will be handled with care. This aspect is vital for those researching moving and packing tips, as it reflects a mover's overall approach to their service. Clean and well-maintained equipment suggests that the company invests in their assets, which often translates to how they handle your belongings.
Now, moving isn't a terribly lucrative field on average. Margins are typically razor-thin because of the tremendous cost to acquire the right assets - like trucks and warehouses and trained crew. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 7,685 moving companies in the United States, yet half of them employ five people or fewer, and 90% employ fewer than 100 people. So, don't expect ivory towers. But, someone who takes care of their equipment is more likely to take care of your belongings.
So, if you get the chance and you're debating about who to use, take a tour of their facilities. See the warehouse, see the office. Look at the trucks. Are they wrapped with decals? Do they look in decent shape, or are they junk trucks? What about the warehouse? Does it look organized and kept? What about inside the trucks? Are the cabs generally clean inside and free of trash? are the backs of trucks neatly stacked with folded pads, and equipment organized and in place? These are all signs of a company and crew that care about their appearance and are more likely to care about yours.
Goal: Look for a company that has a well-kept office and trucks. They may not be new, but they should be clean and branded.
Accreditations, Awards and Affiliations.
In the moving industry, there are several organizations and affiliations that offer memberships to moving companies. These take commitment to excellence to become a member, and they often award their members. For example, what used to be the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and has now become the Moving and Storage Conference (MSC) of the American Trucking Association (ATA). So, is your mover of choice a member? Vanlines such as United, Allied, Mayflower and North American are other examples of groups that require a commitment to excellence. Membership in reputable moving organizations like the MSC, ATA, or affiliations with well-known van lines signals a mover's dedication to quality. These affiliations require adherence to strict standards, making them reliable indicators when comparing moving company reviews.
So, are the movers you're considering members of any of these organizations? And there are many more, I couldn't list them all. But do some digging. Are they members of anything larger than themselves that requires them to be accountable for their quality? Have they ever won awards from these organizations that indicate a commitment to quality? It's not to say that members of these organizations can't be bad actors - because that's not true. But it's more likely that you're dealing with a reputable mover if they're held accountable by more than just themselves.
Goal: Look for a company that is a member of the MSC ATA, a vanline or other organization that judges their quality.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention online moving reviews. It's true that reviews are important. However, because of the possibility that the company works extremely hard to keep their review profiles looking as sharp as possible, I wouldn't recommend it as the only gauge to success. Remember, a review profile is like a storefront. It's probably well-managed and nice looking, but that doesn't mean the interior isn't...well...quite as nice.
But, there are patterns. First, the number of reviews and the period of the reviews matter. Are there lots of reviews? Are they consistent? Was the first review a while ago, and the most recent one...well...recent? Do they have reviews that indicate a pattern of success? Pay attention to comments about the mover's punctuality, the condition of belongings upon delivery, the professionalism of the crew, and the responsiveness of customer service. Reviews that mention specific services, like careful packing of fragile items or efficient handling of last-minute changes, can be especially telling.
While analyzing moving company reviews, look for patterns of consistency and specific mentions of services like careful packing or efficient handling of moving challenges. In regions like Utah and Colorado, Google reviews often provide a more accurate picture than platforms like Yelp or the BBB. That's because in each state or region, the site of "choice" where movers focus their time on building reviews varies, but in Utah and Colorado, I can say that Yelp isn't the review platform of choice for most reputable movers, and the BBB just isn't as relevant as it used to be - it's not a place most movers focus anymore. Google is the place. Like it, or hate it. But, check out multiple places. And read reviews over time, to get a feel for what customers generally say.
Goal: Don't look only at the average score and number of reviews. Look for a company with a consistent pattern of collecting a good number of reviews over a longer time, and read the sentiments of various reviews over time.
What Makes a Mover Good? Combine Key Factors With Your Experience to Select Your Moving Company
Selecting a good mover goes beyond surface-level research. By focusing on these key elements, you can choose a moving company that not only meets your needs but also eases the stress of relocating. Remember, the best moving companies are not always the cheapest, but investing in quality service can save you time, money, and stress; a moving company with a stable history, and a repeatable pattern of success.
Again, the cheapest option isn’t always the best; investing in a quality mover can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.