With all the moving companies that come up in a quick internet search, it can be hard to know which one to choose for your moving needs. The search for a moving company you can trust can seem quite daunting. After all, you are trusting them to drive off with your furniture, your personal items, and the things in your home that have memories attached to them. You want to be able to count on the movers to safely transport your belongings from one location to another. Here are a few helpful tips on things you can do to find the right mover for you, aside from asking friends and family for a recommendation.

  1. Initial Screening

First and foremost, you will want to do a screening process on potential movers in your area. When you do an internet search for the best local removalists in your area, check out the reviews that those companies have received from customers. Check out their star ratings, if a rating scale is available. Visit the Better Business Bureau’s website to see what the moving company’s overall business rating is. Make note of companies that have undergone name changes. Companies can avoid being assessed by the Better Business Bureau if they do business under alternate names. So you’ll want to make sure the company has information about their licensing and insurance readily available, as well as having a local address.

You can also check with the American Moving and Storage association to see if the company is a member of that association. If they are, this means that company has agreed to follow the American Moving and Storage Association’s published tariffs and participate in the arbitration program. While this membership isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it certainly increases the company’s credibility.

  1. Gather Estimates From Movers

Narrow your search down to at least three movers. Call each company and set up an appointment for an estimator to come give you an in-home estimate. Tell the estimator all the items you want moved from your current home to your next home. If your move is to a different state, make sure to ask the company to give you a written binding estimate. This will put a guaranteed cap on the cost of your move, in the event there are issues while traveling from one state to the next. Out of state moves are generally based on the weight of the items moved and the distance traveled. If your move is within the same state, the price is estimated based on the amount of time it will take to move your belongings from point A to Z.

Get everything in writing before signing a contract. Never sign a blank contract/agreement. The company’s fees, your pick-up and delivery dates, and all estimates should be listed on the contract prior to signing it. Make sure all your belongings and specifications are listed on the contract prior to signing it as well. If any of your belongings come up missing in the move, and they are not listed on the inventory list of the contract, you will not be able to file a claim for them. Lastly, it’s a good idea to take advantage of the moving insurance offered from the company. Moving insurance packages are usually an additional expense, but it can help to alleviate some stress off your plate in the event any unwanted damage does happen to your belongings.

  1. Have Your Own Questions Ready

When interacting with the estimator, as well as the moving company as a whole, be prepared to ask your own questions. They shouldn’t be the only one with questions about the move. Make sure to voice all your concerns, expectations, requirements, and requests upfront so both you and the mover have a clear overall idea of what the move will entail. Utilize their customer service department as well. Contact them with any questions you have that the estimator cannot answer.

  1. No Upfront Fees

The fees involved with your move should only be paid upon delivery. If a moving company requires cash up front, or a large deposit, you may want to scratch them off your list of potential movers. You shouldn’t have to pay for the move until the move has been completed. Keep in mind, when you do pay for the moving services upon completion, you’ll want a paper trail for the payment when you pay for the services. Rather than paying for it with cash, opt for a credit/debit card, personal check, or a cashiers check. This way you have an actual record of paying for the move, other than the receipt you get from moving company.

  1. Compare the Bids

Once you’ve gotten all the estimates from potential movers, now you’ll want to compare the bids. Look over the low bids and compare them to the high bids. Make a note of the services provided by each, the cost for those services, and different fees from one company to the next that resulted in a higher bid. There’s a possibility that the additional fees from a particular company are worth the extra service they are willing to provided. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with the moving companies, in the instance that the company you prefer does not offer a service you would like to have. There’s a chance they still may not offer it after you ask, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Now that you’ve narrowed your search down, you’re ready to pick your moving company. You can feel confident in your decision knowing you have done your homework on the company you pick. A move can be a stressful process, but it helps when you go into it prepared. Having a plan of action for the process from start to finish helps make an otherwise agonizing process a bit more enjoyable for everyone involved. Implementing these tips into your search process will help give you peace of mind about your big move.