This post was originally written by Managing Partner, Daniel Zahorchak and appeared on LinkedIn Pulse.
Behind the hustle of small business real estate, a strong force is at work. Movers are busy transporting entire businesses across town and country.
But a lot of what they’re hired to do will never happen. Deliveries won’t meet specification, furniture assemblies will be left incomplete, and inventory will get damaged. Over 6,000 complaints about moving companies were registered with the Better Business Bureau in 2017 that included delays, damages and extra billing.
If your business movers fail to make the cut, it’s usually for one of two reasons: they aren’t the right movers for the job, or your office is underprepared.
Here’s how you can avoid both problems.
Finding the right mover for your business
As a managing partner at Office Move Pro, I’m both a project manager and an employer of professional movers. So I can tell you the responsibility for a successful move lies with the people in charge. Owners need to ensure a successful relocation for their business. And it’s up to those who do the hiring to find business movers who are up to the task.
Researching movers can be as exhausting as finding office space itself. But don’t let that be an excuse to cut corners. If you want to speed up the selection process, understand what type of mover you need.
Most movers fall into three general categories:
Commercial – Commercial movers relocate office contents and warehouse inventory. They’re skilled in office furniture assembly and they can provide professional disconnection/reconnection services for computers and other technical equipment. They often partner with designers and space planners to coordinate a smooth end-to-end transition.
Specialty – Specialty movers have the equipment and expertise to move unique items like heavy equipment, antique collections, valuable artwork, medical supplies, and technical hardware. International moving is also a specialized service.
Residential – Residential movers transport and deliver household goods. They can prepare your personal belongings for safe transport but may not be familiar with everything that moving a business entails.
Small business owners are best off hiring commercial movers with proven experience – especially if it’s your first time moving. They’ll easily guide you through the process of transplanting a growing business. Specialty movers can also be a good choice depending on the type of inventory you have to move.
To further select the best movers for your business, consider the range of services they offer.
Full service – Full service movers can assign move management coordinators to liaise with your team, decommission your current office space, provide short-term storage and furniture assembly.
Partial service – If you’re moving on a budget, packing your own office will save you some money. We recommend renting quality packing supplies directly from your moving company to best protect your valuables. Once you’re packed and ready to go, let the professionals take it from there.
Self service – If you have a small office and an eager team, you may choose to source your own supplies and pack your own office. In this case, all you will need is a moving truck and a driver. Caution: as a small business owner, you may still be getting in over your head – especially if this is your first move.
You can also weigh a moving company’s overall reputation against the services they offer. For example, you might know of a well established company that isn’t focused on commercial moves per se. At the end of the day, isn’t all moving the same? (See above). Or you may come across a new moving company focused on businesses, but with few references.
Cost is important. What’s more important is setting a reasonable budget. While a startup may offer a lower quote, simply choosing the cheapest option can end up costing you more.
Where you can find small business movers
Google local movers – While an amateur website can send up a red flag, a professional website doesn’t always mean a professional business. When you find a local mover, you can meet in person to view their office and equipment, and discuss the details of your move. National moving companies have local offices for exactly this reason. Professional movers will also be willing to come to your current and new office locations to do a walk-through.
CAM – Professional memberships, like the Canadian Association of Movers indicate reputable, trustworthy movers. CAM members are required to be in business for a minimum of two years before applying, provide references and undergo a background check.
Referrals – Talk to other business owners who have moved – contacts from networking groups and local business associations – both in and outside of your industry. Find out who they hired and get a firsthand account of their experience.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn gives you access to a professional network that goes beyond your personal connections. Not only can you review a business’ LinkedIn page to evaluate the company, you can also view the professional profiles of its key members to find out how long they’ve been with the company and what kind of endorsements they’ve received.
Better Business Bureau – Visit BBB.org for a list of their accredited movers, or search the names on your short list to review their profiles and read customer reviews.
Do your part
Reading reviews is essential to evaluating movers. But don’t just the the reviews they choose to put up on their website. Read Google reviews. And check them out on social media. Then speak with prospective movers to see if they meet your expectations.
Finding the right mover takes a bit of leg work. Unless your business is so efficient you can risk a day or more of downtime, or an unexpected bill, it’s worth it. Once you’re certain you’ve got the right movers on board, remember it’s your job to be prepared on moving day. Professional business movers will give you all the information and equipment you need to be ready, well in advance, so follow their lead. It is, after all, why you hired them in the first place.