How to Start a Moving Company
Moving is a smart and lucrative business to get into. Demand for the service is at an all-time high and the barrier for entry is relatively low. It’s hard work, but can be very profitable. Nth Zone ™ Senior Vice President Gary Snipes knows what it takes to start and operate a successful moving business. He’s a second-generation mover who has 30 years of industry experience. He owned and operated two $5 million a year moving companies and now shares his advice with fellow moving entrepreneurs. Read his tips below on how to start a moving company and learn whether it’s the right business for you.
Big trucks and warehouses are not a requirement for starting a moving business. Small is not a bad way to start and has its advantages. Around 80% of moves are small, local moves, for which you do not need storage facilities and tractor-trailers. Some customers are looking for in-home moves that only require manpower to take furniture from one room or another. Many customers prefer to call a smaller moving company because it’s usually less expensive and they still provide quality moving service. Remember, all of today’s “Big Movers” started off as “Small Movers.”
Here are a few steps to set your moving company up for success.
Draft a Business Plan
You wouldn’t go on a road trip to a new place without your GPS. Don’t waste time building your business without knowing where you want it to go! It’s imperative that you take the time to create a well-thought-out business plan for your moving company. It will help you forecast business development, allocate resources and markets, focus on key points and opportunities, and prepare for possible problems. Your business plan should answer all of the following questions:
- Will this be your full time business?
- How much money do you have to invest in this new business?
- What type of moving company will you operate? Just local moves, long distance moves, packing, storage, etc.?
- What area will you serve?
- How do you plan to market your moving company?
- What will you need help with? Accounting, sales, operations, customer service, etc.?
Most importantly, a business plan will help you think about how to set your company apart from the rest. What differentiates you from the competition and why would your target customers choose you over already established businesses?
Obtain Moving Training
If you do not have moving experience, you will need training. And, even if you have do have some experience in the field, moving business training will help you better understand all aspects of the industry. It will teach you how to be more efficient, which will ultimately save you money. Perhaps most importantly, it will make you look professional in your customers’ eyes. Having a good reputation is very important in this business.
You may also need to obtain some sales training. Employing proper sales techniques will help you book more jobs and increase your profit.
Moving and Transportation Permits
Permits are legal authorizations you need to start a moving company in any state. Since you want to open a legal business, you will need to apply for certain permits depending on what type of moving company you want to start. For more information, contact your local state regulatory authority or go to the US Department of Transportation to get information on registration and licensing.
Please note that every state has different requirements for moving companies. Movers.com has a good list of what is required in each state.
Costs Associated with Starting a Moving Business
Let’s talk start-up costs. To start your business, you will need to purchase or rent moving equipment. The cost to purchase or rent this equipment will vary greatly depending on how large or small you want your business to be. When starting a moving company, it is a good idea to start small. Buy or rent a van or smaller moving truck to start your new moving company. If you already have a van or a pick-up truck, your initial costs will be fuel and some moving equipment. You may need a couple of moving dollies, ropes, furniture straps, moving pads (also called moving blankets), and some packing and wrapping materials. Buying an initial inventory of various moving boxes is also a good idea.
These necessary moving basics will make you look professional in the eyes of your first customers. However, if you are serious about starting a moving company, you should consider investing in a new truck with a moving body. Keep in mind that additional insurance requirements come with purchasing your truck.
Once you have your moving truck, you will need to register it with the US Department of Transportation. You will receive a unique US DOT number for your company. In some states, having a valid US DOT registration is enough to operate as a moving company. Depending on the state, regulations differ.
Moving and Transportation Insurance
When starting a moving company, you need to have liability and cargo insurance. Contact your insurance agency to obtain reasonable insurance coverage for damages and liability. You need insurance for both your vehicle and its cargo. Some states have specific requirements on the minimum legal amount for cargo and vehicle insurance. Check with your state authority or insurance agent.
Accounting Considerations for Your Moving Business
One of the most crucial areas to navigate in your new business is your accounting structure. How will you set up your most basic financial processes to ensure visibility into your revenue and expenses? Having a reliable and flexible accounting system can take your business operations to a new level.
Whether you decide to manage your accounting procedures in-house or hire an outside consultant to do the work for you, consider how to keep track of the essential financial activities in your business. This includes establishing a reliable invoicing process, providing accurate estimates, and maintaining the proper documentation.
Good accounting not only helps your business in the day-to-day operations, but it also makes a significant difference over many months and years. The sooner you establish your accounting procedures, the more effective you can be when it comes to things like money management, payroll and benefits, tax liabilities, and more.
Marketing Your New Moving Company Business
To be successful, you should develop a brand that stands out. Memorable and professional branding for your new moving company will result in more sales. To start, think of a great name for your new company. Research the name and ensure is not being used in your market. Invest in a great logo. Put your logo and company’s phone number on your moving truck so people can see it in the city while you are working. Put your crew in branded T-shirts while they work.
Invest in good digital advertising. Today, people search online first. According to Google, there are more than 30 billion searches each month, and 80 percent of them are about services and products. This means you need a well-designed, conversion-optimized website, which can become your main source of jobs. Your website should list all of the services you provide and drive customers to schedule appointments.
You can gain leads from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of homes that have just been listed for sale. Purchase these leads and send a postcard to the customer offering your moving service. You should also become a member of local chambers of commerce and get listed on local business directories, both online and paper-based publications. Become a member of the most popular moving associations and become one of the accredited BBB moving companies.
Sales and Estimates
Every potential customer will want to know what their move will cost. But before you can provide a quote, you have to decide on your pricing structure. First, you will need to establish your rates for your services. For example, one truck, one driver and one helper could be $130 per hour and if an extra helper is needed that could add $35 per hour. Packing and materials, storage, valuation, etc. should all be additional charges.
Most local moves are based on hourly charges. Some moving companies will set minimum hours for local moves and their pricing can change depending on how busy they are. For example, you may have one price for service Monday through Thursday, higher rates on Friday and Saturday, and an even higher rate if you decide to offer Sunday service.
Most moving companies offer two ways to give their customers a moving estimate or quote. One is to send a salesperson to the customer’s residence or storage unit to view what needs to be moved. The second choice is a virtual moving survey. This is where the appointment with the customer is done through video. The salesperson will use software that can calculate the price once they have determined everything that needs to be moved and the services that are needed. Another way is to buy self-estimating software that can be launched from your website. This allows the customer to complete the list of items that they want to be moved and any additional services that they may need. Your moving rates are pre-loaded, and this software can provide customers with an estimate for their move.
Power of Good Customer Service
Focus on providing excellent customer service from the start. Make sure your crew can answer all frequently asked questions and become a top-notch moving provider. By taking good care of your customers, you can turn them into repeat business and referrers. Word of mouth is the best advertising you can get and in the moving industry, this is particularly true. Many moving companies owe a huge percentage of their business each year to repeat customers and referrals.
Need Help Getting Started?
At Nth Zone ™ Moving we can show you how to start your new moving company. We offer the following services:
- Digital marketing services to help you get more leads and convert them into customers. This includes webpage design, Google Ads management and search engine optimization (SEO).
- We can perform full virtual survey for your business.
- We also offer trained, dedicated agents to take your calls, set up virtual surveys for estimates, and more.
At Nth Zone ™ Moving, we have years of collective moving experience and we’d love to help you grow your business faster! Contact us today for a free moving company evaluation!
Ready to Get Started?
Ready to start or grow your business? Send us a message today to get the ball rolling on your own Moving success story!