The challenges of buying a new home can sometimes be intimidating enough without having to worry about whether your furniture, mementos, and other valuables arrive at their destination safely. Here are some helpful tips from Harry Lipsky for choosing the person or company to get your belongings to Smith Mountain Lake or wherever you may need them to go, with the least amount of hassle.
The most important endeavor you will face in the beginning stages of your move is to “pick a mover”. This process can make many people pretty nervous because of all the horror stories that have hovered over the moving industry through the decades. The first thing to do is grab the yellow pages and let your fingers do the walking. If you have your heart set on a certain mover already, go for it. There are consumers that have movers that they, or family members, have dealt with for years and feel comfortable with their service. This trust factor is extremely important as it can help lower stress levels as the moving process progresses. However, if you want several estimates, then pick three movers from the yellow pages. You do not need between 5 and 8 movers coming to your house for the physical estimate marathon. Unless your brain can hold enough information as the newest Pentium computer, you don’t want to go through all that.
Before you make the calls and line up dates for meeting with the sales representatives, make sure you have all of your information in order. You need to know exactly what goes, what stays, what’s to be packed, and any concerns you might have. Three estimates are usually enough to give you a fair idea of the costs. When you have too many movers trying to get your business, you cause an internal struggle from the salesman’s point of view. You may find that they will offer large discounts, maybe some free packing materials, and all kinds of “promises” that they, or the driver, will perform. Do not let these promises sway your decision on whom to use. You should listen to the way each salesperson presents his/her estimates and “read” between their lines (would you buy a used car from this guy?). If too many “perks” are being offered to you for little or no charge, be careful (get it in writing).
My advice is not to go with the cheapest estimate but the best value after all comparisons are made. Check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been any complaints against them. In addition, take a ride by the mover’s facility. Check out the location: what do the trucks and buildings look like? Do you see any of the crews around? What do the workers look like, and are they in uniform? In other words: does the company look professional? It all comes down to: do you like what you see? Evaluate the various movers you selected in this manner and you will come up with a “pick of the litter.” If by chance they all turn out to be dogs, start over!
When you meet with the sales representative, take care to note his/her overall appearance. Are they dressed as though they are going to some gala, or are they dressed in such a way that they can check out the attic, storage crawl space, and under the eaves? I have seen estimators come to the house wearing spike heels and all kinds of jewelry (and that was a guy!)…just kidding. A person should be able to survey the entire contents and figure out packing, crating, and any potential problems during the move in any section of the house. Also, make sure that the information that you give to each of the moving companies is an exact carbon copy to help guarantee an equal comparison of the companies.
Lastly, a common trick to be wary of: make sure that the truck can get down your street without any complications. During estimation, one sales representative may assess that it is “no problem,” or “don’t worry,” etc. Another representative (who used to be a driver) may say “No way!” Another representative may reveal that they will need to shuttle your goods from the house to the big truck, but that they “won’t charge you” (just to get the job). Know this: today’s trucks are huge, and unless you have a wide open street or development, you could very easily be looking at a “shuttle;” this is a smaller van that will make trips back and forth to the road truck from your house. This service can get very pricey, so be prepared, as you may have to fit it into your budget. This service may also be necessary at your new destination, and the smaller van will take your goods from the road truck and deliver them to your new residence. Worst case scenario: both addresses will need shuttles.
Author Harry Lipsky has been active in the moving industry for over 40 years. Visit http://www.uship.com/ship/moves/ to find local moving companies online.