Tips to Start a Moving Company

Starting a Successful Moving Business

Written by Jason Farley for Gaebler Ventures

Wondering how to start a moving company? Did you start a moving business and now want to take things to the next level? This article, written by a moving industry veteran, offers some excellent advice on starting and growing a successful moving business.

What are the keys to starting and growing a successful moving business?

Starting a Successful Moving Business

Based on my 15 years in the industry, I can tell you it is far less about moving and more about service.

Good service is the key to success. By far, the #1 growth factor is how a customer is treated. Far too many movers put an emphasis on moving only. Anyone can move something. Everyone will occasionally damage something. It's how you treat the customer before, during and after the move that really matters.

If you are starting a moving company for the first time, make sure you get the licenses needed to start a moving company. In regards to licensing and such, look at your state's public utilities commission for what you need to do for local/intrastate moves and visit the Department of Transportation (DOT) web site for licensing requirements for interstate moves.

As a start up or small moving business, stay with trucks under 26,000 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight). If you go with bigger trucks, you will be much more regulated and so will your drivers.

As you grow a moving business, rentals are vital. Renting trucks is fine and can help you save on overhead. Most rental companies have a rep for accounts. Talk to them as they will give you the best rates. Expect to pay around $50 per day and 10 cents per mile.

Getting insurance for the moving company is very important. Talk to your insurance company and add rentals to your policy. If your insurer doesn't insure rentals, then I would suggest looking elsewhere.

Once your moving business is doing OK, consider buying a truck for the moving business. I would suggest buying a truck as early as you can. It is cheaper. You can get a nice moving truck for $12k-15k or $250 a month. The market is saturated with used moving trucks and there are great deals to be had. Spend the $200 and have the truck inspected before you buy.

Logo the truck and keep it clean as far more people will see your truck/billboard everyday on the road than will visit your web page or see a phone book ad. The truck is a marketing tool. Brand it as such.

Beyond the formalities of licensing and trucks, you need to know how to market a moving company. You can be a great mover but if nobody knows that, it really doesn't matter.

Remember, good service is the key. Be different than your competition in the moving industry. Stress service and mean it. The time and effort you put into how to gain a customer should be maintained going forward in keeping them as a happy customer.

Here's an example of how many movers don't think through what the customer wants and what's best for the customer. Most movers charge an hourly rate. Why? It's easier for the moving company.

But put yourself in the customer's shoes. Would you rather have an open-ended cost or an exact upfront cost? We all want to know the costs up front. Nobody wants their moving costs to be a surprise at the end of the move. That's why smart movers offer a fixed cost for moving to the customer.

I promise you, the ability to do this will give you a huge advantage over your competitor. There is good moving company software available to do this for you. I have researched many software products for moving companies and would lean toward Movepoint moving software. That is what I use. There are other options out there, as well. Check them out and decide what is best for you and your moving business.

I would also spend a lot of time on your moving company web site. For moving companies, their web sites are by far the single most important ad source for obtaining new customers.

It makes sense. This generation is web savvy. The web is impersonal but facts are facts, and you either promote yourself to your audience in the way they want or you fail.

When is the last time you opened a phone book? Exactly! A phone book is still relevant but at an ever decreasing rate.

But don't think just having a web page will do. You still need to direct traffic to your site. Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or hire an SEO consultant to help you out.

How important is the web for movers? Here's a great true example from my company: My top three ad sources for 2009 YTD moving business are: 1,582 leads from "used us before" clients; 1,530 leads from referrals; and 1,478 leads from my web page. In other words, about a third of my moving company's leads come from the web site.

That speaks volumes to how important a good web site is for moving companies, don't you think? I've heard stories of other firms that are doing even better with getting web sites leads for moving companies.

The bottomline? When starting a moving company, don't be a commodity. Don't be exactly like every other moving company. Be image conscientious. Have employees uniformed. Public perception is vital. Be different and offer the very best service. Do this and you will gain business. I assure you.

If you are honest, your employees are honest and clean cut, you operate with integrity, and your price is competitive, then you will succeed as a mover.

Believe me, just doing these four things alone will help you rise above the crowd and make you different than most of your competition.

If anyone would like to chat about the industry or run some questions by me feel free to contact me at 614-785-9595.

Jason Farley is head of Business Development for Leaders Moving & Storage Company, based in Columbus Ohio.

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Are you starting a moving company? What questions do you have? We welcome all questions and comments.

  • James posted on 12/12/2009
    What you wrote is really going to help me out. The thing that i am having the most problem is the name and logo. I know that the name and logo is very important to starting up a companie (and spelling). Second and just important is figuring out how i am wanting to do the pricing. But ya thanks a lot for the article and it is going to help me get my thoughts in line
  • Aj posted on 12/14/2009
    Thanks Jason,that was extremely informative! I do have a few questions though. How would I go about recruiting good help with my new moving business? Also, most clients want a business address correct? Would leasing a small office/retail type space be relevant? Would an address be relevant on business cards as well marketing the business on the truck? Could you also recommend a good used trcuk dealership to deal with? Thanks for your time and info!
  • Jason posted on 1/20/2010
    Everything you said is 100% correct. I've worked for Moishe's, Flat Rate, and White Glove. I now work for a small independent company which despite a horrible BBB record and terrible reviews everywhere still books over 100 jobs a month even during the slow winter season. But the profit margin is very low. Local jobs 3 men at $75 an hour is unheard of at least for my previous companies. Either way I want to start my own business and I've seen how to and how not to run a moving company. My strategy is very simple - rely on customer service. That is the most important aspect of this business. First of all, hire people who know what they're doing. Second, make sure they know the information to provide the customer. Let the customer know everything upfront and be honest. That is the best possible way to be successful in this business. People are strapped for cash now so not informing them of additional charges (packing,lbs,cubic ft, etc.) is only going to hurt you whether it results in canceled job or a BBB complaint, DOT complaint so on and so forth. And if you don't mind I'd like to answer AJ's question. You don't need to rent a retail space just for the company unless your gonna put salespeople in it. Addresses are not relevant. Go to a truckstop and pickup the free distributed magazines, they will allow you to find used trucks for cheap. Start small grow big. Never lose sight of your goal, Customer Service s #1 in this business. Honesty goes a long way maybe not at first but be persistent and maintain the integrity of your company.
  • Iris Almonacid posted on 1/25/2010
    Iris Almonacid
    This was the first site that I went into in search for answers on questions about starting a moving company and it is the best. Great articles and good people willing to help like you Jason. Your article was great. After reading other articles by gaeber and being directed you yours I feel confident that I will be able to provide and search for the correct things I need to help my husband in his new career venture. Now I know where to go and keep coming for help. I am in the health and wellness industry and know how important word of mouth can be,referrals and great costumer service. You are so right in saying it's number one in getting and keeping a good client base company. Again thank you and I look forward to starting this company with your help and others who are willing to give a hand.. :-)
  • D posted on 1/30/2010
    How much do i charge to move things? Is the going rate by pound, time, per item? What's the general theme for charging these days?
  • D.KENNETH posted on 4/18/2010
    I found the comments very vitally helpful and useful and will be able to apply it to my new small moving co. thanks for your help and wish evereybody the best of luck.
  • c.mcgibbon posted on 6/14/2010
    This article on starting a moving business was very helpful but my problem is trying to find afforable moving company leads and other marketing tools that work. Any ideas?
  • kingsley posted on 6/30/2010
    Good day, i want to start my own moving company in africa. but i need to come up with a business plan to show to my proposed investors. how do i go about it. and how it will work with the real estate market, its benefits etc
  • Jennifer Denton posted on 9/23/2010
    Jennifer Denton
    I am starting a labor-only moving service. I am having trouble understanding the agent about the details of general liability insurance vs something call bay lease? Anyway, I wanted to make sure I had some coverage against damage or breakage, but I am unclear if general liability will cover that. As far as I could tell, the agent said no - that it covers property damage. Anybody have clarification? Thanks!
  • benjamin posted on 3/7/2011
    I will be opening a moving supplies store in NYC. I have very little start-up money. I will be brokering the actual moves with two reliable companies because I cannot afford all the permits and my own trucks. The store front will be subleased in an existing parcel shipping store. We will have our own signage separate from the existing business. The location is excellent. Right across from the subway entrance so it will get a lot of exposure. I do not have much to invest in internet optimization and I will not be buying leads on line. I have found a great source of property management companies that post all the apartment listings and when the specific units will be available for rent. This gives me a direct lead to who will be moving. I will be sending the prospective customers a letter explaining our services. Questions: Do you know if moving companies that have store fronts in densely populated urban areas receive many walk-ins? On average how many weeks prior does the average customer tend to book the actual mover? What is the demand usually for just moving supplies and boxes? Can you give me any good ideas or suggestions on what I can do to generate business? I appreciate your response. Thanks, Warm regards, Benjamin

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