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I remember the first time I moved apartments using a moving company. I hired someone from a flier I saw on a lamppost; someone who didn’t charge an outrageous amount from a broke college student. Aside from leaving that experience knowing I never want to move things myself again, I also left with a bunch of broken dishes and one completely missing box. It was my own fault, of course — I didn’t do all the required research to know if it was a legit moving company and not just another college student looking to make some extra cash. Overall, it was a valuable learning experience.
You don’t have to go through the same education I did. I asked professional movers how to find the right moving company for you. Here’s what they said.
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Do you know anyone who just moved? Ask your friends, family members, and coworkers to see if any of them can give you a suggestion for a good local mover.
“Their personal experiences are much more reliable than online reviews and will give you peace of mind going forward,” says Caitlin Garvey from Gentle Giant. “If you are working with a real estate agent, then ask them for a referral. They will have an unmatched level of knowledge about the moving industry.”
Once you’ve done that, head to good ol’ Google to read more about the options.
David Steckel, Thumbtack’s home expert, says reviews are extra important when deciding who to use as your mover. See what type of experience other people had by reading Google, Yelp, and social media reviews. Garvey agrees, and says to watch how the company reacts to reviews as well.
“If the company has received a negative review, take note of how they address this review in their reply,” she says. “While moving is an unpredictable experience and damage can occur, how the company handles these negative situations can be very telling of their level of professionalism.”
You’ll also want to look at their rating on the Better Business Bureau website to make sure they’re legit.
Once you’ve whittled down the contenders, start getting estimates for your move and having conversations about how the company works. At this point, any red flags to watch out for will start to rear their head.
“The response time to your request and professionalism of the response is the first indicator of a legit company,” Steckel says. “If it takes them a week to get back to you and they’re calling you at 9 p.m. and seem the opposite of professional on the call, the job will reflect that. If they throw a random price at you without a virtual or physical walkthrough, expect to pay dramatically more at the end. If they don’t have a robust process for the entire quoting and sales process, walk away.”
Try to request at least three estimates so you have a range of options to look over and choose from, Garvey and Steckel say.
Investigate Their Qualifications
Finally, make sure you’re taking some time to investigate the company’s qualifications. If your state requires a Department of Transportation number, ask for it. Ask for their Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration number as well. And find out about what insurance they have and what they offer to customers. You want to be sure the movers, you, and your belongings are all protected in case anything goes wrong.