Finding the right moving company is tricky. There are more than 250 moving services in Cook county, Illinois alone. A few are fantastic, some are okay, a handful barely operate legally, and a few are outright scam artists!
Aside from helping you determine exactly what services you will need for your move, assisting you in finding the right mover is probably the most important service we provide. We help you find a good mover for the type of service you need, that is properly licensed through the correct agencies, and has a good reputation among their past clients.
The first, and lowest, bar a mover should meet is being able to legally operate as a household goods mover. Licensing is handled at the state or federal level depending on the type of service provided. If you are moving within the state of Illinois, your mover should be licensed with the Illinois Commerce Commission and should have their MC (Motor Carrier) number prominently displayed on their estimates, websites, letterhead, trucks, etc. If you are moving from one state to another, your mover must be licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The feds also issue MC numbers and you should run a search on your mover through the proper government website to be sure the mover is currently licensed. Here are some links:
If the mover is licensed, it is a strong indicator that they are also insured and operate at least loosely within the bounds of the law. There will also be a record of any consumer complaints that made it to the attention of State or Federal regulators and in the case of the FMCSA’s site, you can see if the company has been cited for any safety violations.
Okay, so you’ve screened your list of movers (or we have for you) for the obvious and objective qualifications – now comes the hard part. Which service providers are actually good at the services they purport to provide? Do we ask Google? Yelp? BBB? ß We’ll pause for the younger crowd to consult Wikipedia… okay. No, unfortunately these review sites are not going to cut it. People tend to use these services in one of two ways:
- Complain about perceived shortcomings, whether founded or not
- To politely advertise for the service provider because they were asked to or to receive something in return.
Yelp profiles tend to look the same all across the industry, either you have fewer than a dozen of mostly people screaming that they were shortchanged somehow or the mover has a very active review recruitment department and they have about 1500 five star reviews. This is not helpful.
The best people to ask are the trade association for the service you are looking to hire. If you are in Illinois and you are staying in Illinois, contact the Illinois Mover’s and Warehouseman’s Association (IMWA). They will know which of their member companies are near you, who operates them, and how well. You can reach the IMAWA here:
If you are moving across state lines, you can contact the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). This is not as good a resource, in my opinion, as IMAWA but that is likely just a personal bias – they are just larger and a little more impersonal. They can be reached below:
Another potential resource for an interstate mover, if you can get access to it, is the mover’s own internal dashboard report. Good interstate movers are big and like most big organizations that provide services to the larger public, they love to send out surveys. A survey that is sent to all or at least a large representative sample of past customers is going to be much more statistically reliable than a Yelp, Google, or Facebook review profile and give you a more realistic picture of the company you are talking to.
If their service is worth bragging about, your mover’s representative will likely offer to show you their dashboard before you ask for it. If not, listen for the hint of panic in their voice after you ask for it. After the stammering has subsided and they finally send the report to you, you will either see that they are awful or that they have what you would expect – a mixed bag of really great moves, a lot of “they got the job done” services and a few shipments where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. That happens. It doesn’t mean you drop them from consideration, it means they are overall reliable with a few flaws and weigh this along with all the other factors you should consider (cost, safety rating, services and promotions they are offering, etc.) against the other moving services you are considering.
This is a good overview of Selecting a Mover 101. Please leave any questions in the comments section below and we will update or respond to posts to make this the best resource it can be.
Thank you for reading and visit us again soon.