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The Facts About Your Moving Estimate: An Interview with Andy Zuker of The Moving Crew

By Andy Zuker

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

The Moving Crew is a small, mover-owned relocations company based in Auburn, California. Now in our 5th year and growing steadily, we offer a wider range of services from packing, loading/unloading help, moving locally or long-distance, business moves, piano moves, short- and long-term storage, and more. We have a full line of quality packing supplies for sale at competitive prices. Since our inception we have always focused on being completely transparent and communicative with our clients. In choosing to deviate from the typical moving industry business model and structure our company more like a co-op, we have built a team of highly skilled movers who take great pride in our work and the Moving Crew brand.

Above all, our company culture is one of respect, both within our ranks and with our clients, competitors and friends. We shun invasive and irritating marketing techniques, and simply refuse to participate in buying leads, sending junk mail, cold calling or any other method that abuses client data and creates an impersonal rapport. We book a lot of moves, but we try to never overbook. We value a high quality of life for ourselves and others, and end each day knowing that we did the right thing and provided excellent personal service.

Is there something important that people should know about getting an estimate from a moving company?

I tell all of my potential clients that they should get at least three in-home estimates from different moving companies. If one of the bids is strikingly lower than the others, that could be a red flag indicating that there might be some deceptive pricing going on. It is also critical to show all the estimators everything that will need to be packed or moved, and to tell them all the details about the job. Have the most thorough plan you can before the estimators arrive if at all possible. I've been asked to bid jobs where half or more of the large furniture items are for sale and the client doesn't know if they will sell by move day and it is just not possible to give an accurate bid in that situation. Moves can be complex and multifaceted and a good estimator can help you make an efficient plan for a smooth transition.

How do you calculate an estimate and what the cost to move a household will be?

Local and Long-distance or interstate moves are calculated differently, but the first step is determining the volume and destination of everything that is to go. There are many factors that make one family's move very different from the next. Some of those factors include the literal size, shape and weight of the furnishings, and also the layout of the property and level of service desired.

There are industry standards for the cubic feet of most common household goods items. If the move is long-distance or interstate, the estimated weight and volume of the shipment is considered with the exact mileage and multiplied by a "hundredweight" rate - or in plain language: the cost to move those items that distance per 100 lbs. It can be a bit confusing for those not indoctrinated into the world of shipping, but essentially you end up with a flat-rate, binding price.

For a local move (within 100 miles door-to-door), the estimator considers the volume of goods, determines the best configuration of movers and trucks, and quotes a window of time for the job at an hourly rate. Any estimator who has physically viewed the inventory must provide a Not-To-Exceed price, which tells the client the most they will pay for a move as agreed.

Are there any extra charges could possibly raise or lower an estimate?

Quality, legitimate movers do not want to spring extra charges on a client on move day - that is the bane of our industry - so it is really important for the estimators to know about things like long walks, flights of stairs, pieces that are extra fragile or previously damaged/compromised, or anything else that might add time to the move or require special equipment. If a crew shows up to a move that is different than the estimator was shown, or the client has added items or destinations without informing the estimator and receiving an updated bid, the movers will fill out a form called a "Change Order for Services" with the client and agree to the extra charges for additional services.

It does not behoove anyone to mislead the estimator to receive a lower quote, or for an estimator to mislead the client with a low quote and then hit them with extra charges on move day. One of the most common causes of increased move costs is when a client adds items to be moved after an estimate and Not-To-Exceed price has been given. Of the thousands of moves I have personally done, on almost every single one we have taken one or two more items than originally estimated. Usually that is at no extra cost, but once a client starts adding multiple pieces of furniture or over 10 boxes, the parameters of the move change and the mover cannot be held to the Not-To-Exceed price. It's also really important to let the estimator know if there will be a long walk from the truck, an elevator, flights of stairs, or anything else that will make the move take more time and resources.

After people receive an estimate, what questions should they ask the moving company to make sure that everything is included?

If there is anything in the bid that a client does not understand, they should ask for clarification right away. The moving industry is regulated and uses tariffs for pricing (which are available for the public to view), and some antiquated and specific language in our contracts that some people might not be familiar with. For example, the person who owns the goods is called the "shipper," and the mover is referred to as the "carrier." The moving contract is called a "bill of lading" and the coverage for protection of goods that movers offer is never called "insurance," but rather "valuation." This valuation coverage can be one of the most confusing aspects of hiring a mover, and despite the booklet all movers give out explaining the moving laws and responsibilities, many people have questions about potential damages and how they are handled. Another really important thing to know is who will be doing the actual moving. Some companies have subcontractors, some have dedicated full-time employees, some use temporary labor, some are owner/operators like us. It is important to know that your moving company is licensed, insured, and bonded.

What advice do you have for a homeowner who doesn't have a set move date or needs to change their moving date?

This is a tough one. I know that there are so many factors to plan when making a move and that the timing of everything is critical. I tell my clients to give us as much notice as possible and to keep us in the loop. Sometimes it is not possible to accommodate a last-minute reschedule, but we try to be as flexible and helpful as possible. My strongest word of advice is not to book your move for the date of closing on the house. I have yet to understand why, but almost no one closes on the day first set by the title company. If at all possible, plan for a few days delay and schedule movers and other services accordingly.

What's the best way for people to contact you and your company?

They should call our office at 916-730-8305, or fill-in a request for estimate or "contact us" form. Or they can email me at They can message us on Yelp, Facebook and even Twitter.

We absolutely do not buy or sell leads, never share client info with anyone and never send junk mail or junk emails. You can send us your phone number or email address comfortably knowing we will not fill your inbox up with spam or cause marketers to call you. If you do call our office and we are unable to answer, please leave us a detailed message and we will get right back to you. Summertime is crazy for moving companies and sometimes we experience an extraordinary volume of calls. We almost always return every call and email within 24 hours.

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