How To Start A Moving Company

How To Start A Moving Company

Get insider tips on growing your moving company to help you scale faster, work smarter and build a better future for your company.

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Start a Moving Company by Following These Steps

The average American moves 11.7 times throughout their life. This means moving companies help over 30 million customers settle into a new place every year! The US moving industry is a multi-billion dollar network of independent and corporate moving companies. With so many potential customers on the move, there’s room to jump in and make your mark! Follow along as we break down the essentials of starting a new business, from building your business plan, to creating a budget for movers, successfully marketing your business.

48% of Moving Companies in the US Are Small Businesses

Moving businesses with less than five employees account for nearly half of all moving companies in the US. Whether your dream is to grow a million-dollar moving empire, create local jobs, or enjoy the freedom of being your own boss, the moving industry is a haven for small business owners!

Starting a moving company is a great way to explore entrepreneurship. Whether you’re planning to start a new company or scale your existing moving business, we’re here to help you avoid the pitfalls of poor planning and unexpected circumstances. Below, we’ve broken down our four-step plan for how to start a moving company, plus helpful tips for every stage of your journey.

1. Research

We get it: you’re eager to jump right in and start making money – but doing so without proper research and a solid business plan could be a recipe for disaster.

Business Goals

Starting a small business requires hard work, research, and determination. Our first tip? Define your goals. Beginning here makes it simpler to develop a strategic plan that will directly influence the success of your moving business.

  • Ask yourself WHY. Why do you want to start a moving company? Your why will be essential to your moving company goals, and will help guide your vision and strategic decisions for the company.
  • Write your mission statement. How will your small business serve its customers? Yes, a moving company gets households from point A to point B, but give some thought to the solution that differentiates your business from others. Your mission statement describes your company’s reason for existing – it should be aspirational, but actionable.
  • Create your vision statement: What do you want to be proud of in 1, 5, or 10 years? A vision statement is your chance to define what you want your company to become.

Market Research

Market research involves reviewing industry statistics and demographics to find your ideal customer base. This may include research in the following areas:

  • Market size: How many people move daily, monthly, and yearly?
  • Economic data: What are the local income statistics and employment rates?
  • Market saturation: How many moving companies already exist in your area?
  • Geography: What are the moving trends?
  • Pricing: How much does it cost to move?

Still stumped? The American Moving & Storage Association, AMSA, is an excellent resource for market research.

Target Market

Revenue potential varies from location to location, but considering why customers in that area need your services can help you define your target market. What are your location demographics: a busy college town or a commuter neighborhood? Lots of young families, or mostly older couples? Understanding the makeup of your local area makes it easier to focus on a specific target market.

Resources for determining the target market for your new business:

Competitive Analysis

Competition is a fact of life, regardless of where or how you enter into the business world. The key to successfully co-existing with your competitors involves understanding what they offer (and what they’re missing)! Analyzing your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses will help you know how to properly differentiate your services when advertising to your target market.

Name and Logo

You’ve picked the perfect name for your business—or so you think! Before you rush to set up a web domain or register your moving company name with the Secretary of State, make sure the name you have in mind is:

Once you’ve settled on and registered your name, you’ll need a logo that customers will associate with your brand. Put your best foot forward by hiring a professional designer or design agency to develop your branding. If your budget is limited, inexpensive options like Adobe’s free Logo Maker or freelance creative sites like Fiverr are excellent resources.

Moving Services and Pricing

Price is a factor for every customer, but the services you offer can help differentiate you from your competition. Consider the needs of your target market and plan your services around what will offer them the most value – and what your competitors might be missing.

When considering your pricing framework, review your competitors’ pricing structure and the general moving costs in your target market. Several factors can determine pricing, including moving services (like packing and storage), time, distance, the number of items, and total weight.

Once your pricing framework is complete, make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get all the information they need by including a quote calculator on your website to help them quickly understand the costs and benefits associated with selecting your company for their move.

2. Plan

The planning phase is the most crucial aspect of ensuring a solid foundation for the success of your moving company — so don’t skip it! Planning for the costs, liabilities, risks, and unexpected circumstances associated with being a business owner (and running a moving business!) will ensure your ability to responsibly scale your brand once you’re an established member of the moving industry.

Cost

It’s essential to plan for all aspects of running a moving company and how much each will cost you. It can be helpful to split your costs into initial and ongoing expenses.

Initial expenses include things like:

  • Vehicle costs: will you buy a moving truck (or several), or rent a fleet?
  • Equipment costs: including dollies, boxes, pads, ropes, and wrapping materials.
  • Office supply and service costs: including printers, WIFI, desks, and business cards.
  • Warehouse costs: offering customers short or long-term storage space or storing moving company property.

Ongoing expenses include things like:

  • Payroll and payroll taxes for employees.
  • Office space to run your moving business.
  • Vehicle maintenance and fuel charges.
  • Various insurance coverages for unexpected occurrences.
  • Marketing costs, including print, media, and paid advertising.

Finance Considerations

Depending on your situation, there may be a variety of financial options that can help you get started. Check out the US Small Business Administration to research available funding programs for small businesses.

Before you begin operating as a moving company, you’ll need to register for various state and federal taxes, and this means you’ll have to apply for an EIN, which you can do through the IRS website.

Next, you’ll need to open a business bank account and credit card. It’s important to separate your business and personal accounts and assets, which will also help simplify your business accounting.

Licensing and Insurance

License requirements depend on your company’s state and whether you plan to operate in-state or across state lines. Confirm your specific license and registration requirements with your state’s Department of Transportation (DOT). Certain moving companies must apply for a DOT number which can be obtained via the U.S. DOT or FMCSA websites.

When you establish your business as a legal entity, you protect yourself from being held liable if someone tries to sue your moving company. Ensure that your company assets remain protected by adding insurance coverage for your moving company.

Typical types of insurance include:

  • liability insurance coverage
  • vehicle insurance
  • cargo insurance coverage

In addition, interstate moving companies are required to carry FMCSA-mandated moving insurance coverages including Full Value and Released Value protection. Requirements differ depending on your state, so do your research!

Policies

The Oncue sales team books hundreds of jobs daily for movers across the country. Over the years, our data has shown that keeping policies simple and customer-friendly is key to running a successful small business.

The policies you set should protect your moving company by including all significant potential incidents.

Here are examples of what can be included in your terms and conditions:

  • Cancellation policy
  • Minimum hours for local moves
  • Specific policies for moving heavy or fragile items
  • COVID-19 protocols
  • State-mandated information or PDF pamphlets

Note: it’s also important to explicitly state in your terms and conditions that anything not included in the confirmation email is subject to extra cost.

Employees

Can you hire your friends and family? Sure, but we don’t recommend it. If you don’t have reliable help when needed, you might be forced to give up business or miss deadlines. Hiring and training employees will enable you to scale your moving company by providing more hands and eyes on the job, but it’s a time-intensive process. Oncue’s Director of Inside Sales reports spending an average of 33 hours a week interviewing and onboarding new hires and then another 30 hours weekly training their new hires!

Yes, the hiring process is time-consuming, but the time invested in finding the right folks for the job will pay you back tenfold by enabling you to spend more time focusing on your strategic plans.

3. Brand

What’s your moving company’s personality? Are you the gold standard of self-service moving, like U-Haul? Are you a multi-service solution for neighborhoods like Surv? Your moving company’s unique solution will become synonymous with your brand, and establishing a living brand that works for and scales with your company involves creating a strong and consistent presence threaded through every aspect of your customer interactions.

When considering your brand, start with these three questions:

  • Differentiation: How do you stand out from the competition?
  • Messaging: What message do you want to send to potential customers?
  • Brand identity: How and where will your brand image be reflected?

Brand Identity

Remember that old saying, “You only have one chance to make a first impression”? Your moving company’s first impression is its brand identity – the assets that determine how your brand is perceived and interpreted by your target market. A strong brand identity is consistent, and establishing consistency across all assets, from your truck design to the logo on your uniform polo, is key to building an easily recognizable brand. Wondering if you’re hitting the mark? Check these common customer touchpoints for consistency:

  • Company name, logo, and website
  • Digital and physical advertisements
  • Moving truck
  • Moving company uniform
  • Branded company email address
  • Online advertising
  • Email newsletters
  • Printed marketing materials
  • Email signature
  • Custom apparel like tees, hoodies, and hats
  • Social media accounts
  • Business cards

Website

Your moving company website is the most critical marketing tool in your toolkit: it tells potential customers who you are and how you can help them. Whether you’re building your first site or doing your research before optimizing an existing one, a bit of effort will turn your site into a lead-building machine!

Today’s Local Media, a full-service marketing agency, suggests these tips for ensuring a steady amount of traffic to your site:

Ensure your website is optimized to load across all devices – especially mobile: 52% of all web traffic is mobile, so having a responsive site is key to ensuring that potential customers can easily find and learn more about your moving company.

Don’t keep customers guessing: include critical contact information upfront, and keep it easy to find by pairing it with a prominent CTA that connects them with a helpful resource (like your sales team!). For added value and quick answers, consider dedicating a page of your site to customer FAQs.

Use real photos and reviews: moving is incredibly stressful, and customers want to work with a moving company they trust. Actual photographs of your moving crew in action, examples of a well-packed moving truck, and testimonials from previous customers all help build trust in your company.

Capture and respond to leads: website leads can be one of your best lead generation channels if you make it easy for customers to provide their information. An optimized lead form (like this example) with an email auto-response should be available to every visitor once they enter your site.

SEO and Content

What’s the point of having a great website if nobody can find it?

SEO (search engine optimization) helps ensure that your site ranks higher in search results – enabling more potential customers to find you. In a perfect world, when someone searches for moving companies (or answers to moving questions) online, your company’s name appears at the top of the list. A solid SEO strategy leverages the valuable content on your site to help more people find your moving company in a sea of similar moving businesses.

Your content will drive your SEO strategy – think blog posts, social media updates, customer case studies, videos, and testimonials. Content that is useful, relevant, and valuable to your target audience is more likely to appear alongside your name in search results, ultimately driving traffic to your site.

Social Media

Social media is the perfect engine for brand awareness and engagement. Posting relevant content on a consistent schedule (once a month won’t cut it!), like solutions to common moving problems, moving industry news, and company updates, will help you develop and maintain relationships with your target audience and drive traffic to your website.

If you’re struggling to find the time to manage your social media accounts, a platform like Hootsuite can help, by automating and scheduling social posts in bulk.

Marketing and Advertising

A consistent flow of new leads is incredibly important to the growth of your business, and a strong marketing and advertising strategy will ensure that people can find your company and become your customers. From word of mouth and referrals, to traditional and digital advertising strategies, there are plenty of opportunities to grow your business.

A solid marketing strategy will have campaign elements like:

  • Your moving truck: Your truck is an incredibly effective way to advertise your moving company! Make sure your name and contact information are visible.
  • Marketing Promo Materials: flyers, brochures, postcards, and pens, are easy to produce and distribute to local businesses and events where potential customers might be.
  • TV and radio: advertising can be expensive, but its broad reach guarantees you’ll reach more potential customers than word-of-mouth or digital ads alone.
  • Digital ads: Google ads and Facebook ads are two easy and lucrative ways to reach potential customers in your area with geographically targeted ad campaigns.
  • Remarketing: After someone has visited your website, you can retarget them with relevant content on other websites and social media channels. The more they see your ad and content, the more they’ll notice and remember your name.

4. Grow

You don’t need us to tell you that the bigger your brand is, the more income and opportunity will present themselves to you. But what steps can you take to impact your company’s growth? Here are some tried-and-true tools to leverage:

Lead Generation

Creating a lead generation strategy is key to ensuring that you are consistently generating new leads. As well as a great website and a strong marketing strategy, there are various partners that you should be aware of to attract more leads:

  • Review and referral sites: like Yelp, Thumbtack, and Angie.
  • Paid advertisements on TV and radio
  • Posting print advertisements at apartment complexes
  • Establishing relationships with your local realtor network

Pick Up the Phone

23% of existing moving companies do not return missed calls within 24 hours, and 42% do not answer calls during business hours. If you can be the moving company that answers every single call, then you’ll be the company getting the customers they lose!

Prioritize Customer Experience

Moving is stressful. Ensure that your customers receive the experience they deserve by making their visit to your website easy. From email autoresponders that reply to every incoming lead to prompt phone calls to confirm appointments and answer questions, small touches can make the customer experience seamless.

Leverage Reviews and Referrals

Social proof is one of the most powerful tactics at your disposal, so ask for it and use it! Build your resource bank of reviews and referrals by establishing a simple, post-appointment review process that encourages feedback. Consider joining a referral website (like Angie or Yelp) to bolster your online presence.

Tips on Starting a Moving Company – The Beginning

Starting a small business is incredibly challenging. Whatever stage you’re at with your moving company, you should be proud of everyone you’ve accomplished! Discover how some of our biggest customers scaled their companies into a multi-million dollar moving businesses.

FAQs

Yes! One of the keys to starting and ensuring the success of any small business is being aware of the cost of acquiring a customer (CAC), and factoring this cost into your marketing budget. Learn more about CAC and more business metrics.
This answer will be different for every small business owner. Your target market, differentiation tactics, services offered, and customer retention strategy all play a factor in your revenue potential. Understanding your customer lifetime value (CLV) is one step toward measuring long-term revenue growth. Learn how to calculate CLV here.
We’d argue that it’s difficult to start any business without capital. But being smart and savvy about the ways that you market your business can help you save money when you’re first starting out. Learn more about leveraging free marketing tactics to build brand awareness.

How Oncue Makes Life Easy For Movers

Partnering with the right people and tools can help you take your moving company to the next level. Oncue was created to help movers get off the phones and out of the office so they can concentrate on growth. We partner with moving company owners at every stage of their business, helping them maximize growth and revenue using Oncue’s moving company software.

For even more in-depth information on how to start a moving company or scale your existing moving business, download our FREE eBook below

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