I’ve been in the portable storage business for seven years. I am not a mover. However, due to my close proximity to the moving business, I have encountered my fair share of movers. At various points we have partnered with different movers in Columbia SC with the hopes of providing a reliable source of moving labor for our customers.
We have found a couple of companies we enjoy working with, but it has taken quite a bit of time. I wanted to share with you some of the challenges and pitfalls we have encountered when looking for good movers in Columbia SC. The hope is that you can use this information to ask the right questions of your movers to ensure you have the best moving experience possible.
1) Are they licensed, bonded, and insured. This goes without saying. Make sure you discuss upfront the EXACT process that takes place when an item is found to be broken by the hand of their employees.
2) Do they care? – It’s a shame I have to ask this. Big, strong guys doesn’t mean anything when they don’t care. Not caring ends up being expensive to you. It results in nicks and scratches to your furniture, floors, and walls. It results in things being damaged while being transported due to poor packing. It results in slow moving workers that ride the clock, text and talk on their cell phones, and stop for smoke breaks on your precious dime.
How do you know if someone cares? Ask people who have used them. If you are calling movers out of a phone book, ask them for references. My personal preference would be to leave the phonebook alone and get a referral from someone in your community that has recently moved. Network at church, work, with friends, and neighbors. Find out who they used and how it went.
Also, the mover that sells you the service is usually not the guy who will load your portable storage unit. So, how do you ensure that the hired help will work as hard as promised? Cold hard cash. This is an invaluable tip passed along to me by a friend. It is standard to tip your movers. Use this as a means to motivate before the move starts. Have a little pep talk with them when they arrive. Make sure they know that TIPS stands for “To Insure Proper Service”. It is not an entitlement. Tell them how much you are willing to tip them. Then tell them what you require for them to get their tip. It may be that you expect the job could be done in six hours. If they don’t exceed 6 hrs. and get everything loaded in one piece without damage to house or property, they win! Maybe you throw in a bonus if they get done sooner. You get the picture. Appeal to the money motivated side of individuals and you may be surprised if they “care” a little bit more.
3) Are they honest? – I am sad to say that on more than one occasion I have had movers steal from our clients. Once this happens, they don’t ever get recommended again. This is a risk that is taken any time you allow people you don’t know into your home. You have to dig a bit to verify honesty. Again, interview past customers. Second, ask the company about their hiring process. How do they determine who makes it onto their team? Do they require background checks? How about drug tests? What other criteria do they use when hiring to ensure that you and your belongings stay safe? Third, get online and search for “movers name reviews”. Search google for the companies name + address to see reviews on their “Google Places Page”. Check yelp, kudzu, Angie’s list, service magic, yellowpages.com…anywhere someone can leave a review.
4) Get everything in writing. I know this isn’t a question, but I cannot stress it enough. We recently helped a gentleman out who received a price from a moving company. The price was not bonded (it was only an estimate, not a fixed amount). Our customer thought it was. He never got the agreement in writing. The job ended up being $3,000.00 more than was quoted (it was a big job!). The disagreement turned into a “he said, she said” argument. Because nothing was in writing, the moving company held their customer’s belongings hostage as leverage to get the money they felt was owed. It was a mess. Don’t end up in a situation like that. Get it in writing!
One final thought. I have yet to see a move go perfect. When moving, you need to know something will go wrong. Not all of your items will make it to your new home in their present condition. You’re also dealing with humans. To be human is to make mistakes. The measure of a good moving company is not how perfect they tend to be, but rather how well they handle their mistakes. Do they own up to problems and respond with integrity? The best moving companies I have worked with have put the customer first at cost to themselves. Surprise, surprise, these also seem to be the ones that stay in business the longest.