If you’ve got an entrepreneurial streak, one business idea you might have considered is starting a moving company. After all, it’s an industry that’s always in demand. But getting your new business off the ground might be much more involved than originally imagined — there’s a lot of red tape to cut through! Once you’ve gotten the green light from local, state and federal officials, it’s time to hit the ground running.
Building your client base is the most critical aspect when it comes to the success of a new business. And as you grow, administrative tasks can pile up. You’ll need a smart way to organize it all. Enter VIIZR: software with the power of Ford Pro™ and the Salesforce platform, built for moving businesses just like yours. VIIZR automatically takes care of invoicing, CRM, job progress and more. On the go or in the office, your important information is easy to access using VIIZR’s secure online platform.
But before we talk about how to manage your business’s operations, let’s get your business set up. When starting a local, regional or national moving company, there are a lot of questions to be answered. What are your goals for your business? How do you plan to manage the day-to-day operations? And of course, how can you ensure that you’re going to turn a profit? Let’s start from the beginning.
Making the decision to start a moving company means committing to excellent customer service along with exceptional moving services. Whether you’d like to focus on commercial service or household moves, you’ll need to be fully licensed, have a great business plan and find the right teams to work with. Because your customers are entrusting you with their precious personal possessions, you’ll want to do everything you can to demonstrate your trustworthiness.
You’ll also want to decide what kind of moving company you want your business to be. Ask yourself questions to narrow your focus, including:
Your answers to these questions will guide you as you develop your business plan, marketing strategy and overall approach to setting up your new moving company.
Opening your own moving company isn’t an overnight process — you need to create a solid business plan before you begin advertising or buying equipment. Business plans are formal documents that set out your company’s goals and metrics for success. Your final business plan will be customized to your situation, but most professional business plans include the following information:
Any lingering questions you have about starting your business should be answered in your business plan. This crucial document will serve as a guide as you grow your business, prepare for problems and take advantage of new opportunities.
As you can see, there are many different directions you can take when it comes to deciding what kind of moving company you’d like to run. Your business plan will serve as a roadmap as you navigate the process of opening your own moving business. Now it’s time to consider the steps you’ll need to take to make your moving company a success. Let’s take a look:
Because movers are always in demand, it’s natural that there are a ton of businesses trying to do the same thing as you. While you can eliminate massive corporate movers as realistic competitors, it’s wise to take the time to research your direct, local competitors.
When you’ve identified your competition, take a deep dive into their operations and offerings. What kind of services does each company offer? What’s their pricing structure? And of course, what do their customer reviews say? This is a great place to get an idea of what the market needs.
Another important aspect of competitor research is assessing their advertising strategy. Whether it’s the way another moving company words their pitch to potential customers or the places they choose to advertise, pay attention. This can help to guide your own approach to advertising.
When you’re just starting out, it’s important to keep your focus narrow. Trying to do too much too soon can lead to poor service and unhappy customers. Instead, pick one specialty and master everything there is to know about it. Defining your niche also helps new customers find you.
When it comes to customers, ask yourself, “Who do I envision as my ideal future client?” Once you can picture the type of person who might need your services, consider their unique needs, challenges and goals. This helps you to dial in your marketing and advertising and set your customer service standards.
Now that you’ve refined your focus, you can move forward with steps like seeking out the money you’ll need to get your startup rolling, finding the equipment you’ll need, and figuring out the licensing and other legal aspects necessary to get started.
Here’s where things start getting serious. When you are starting a moving company, you’ll need to set up a formal business structure. While it may seem like overkill to establish your fledgling business as a corporate entity, it’s a necessary evil. Let’s take a quick look at the four most common business models:
Each of these options has pros and cons, but only you and your financial advisor can make the final decision. Did we mention that you should be working with an advisor? They can provide knowledgeable answers to questions specific to your situation.
Now’s the time to take a look at what you want to do with your new moving company. Are you all-in, or is this a side hustle that has the potential to turn into full-time? Do you plan to sell your business to another company at some point? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you set specific goals.
Take the time to write down concrete goals, including the number of customers you’d like to serve, how much money you’d like to make, the hours you’d like to work and more. Not only does this give you a set of metrics against which to measure, but it also allows you to build in the flexibility that’s such a big perk of owning your own moving company.
Part of the process of starting a new business is to check out what paperwork requirements your city and/or state has. You must file these papers before you begin to work with customers — otherwise, you may be subject to fines. Always be sure that you have the right license to operate in a specific area.
Along with your state and/or local business license, you’re also obligated to file for federal tax status. The IRS will issue you an employer identification number (or EIN). This is your moving company’s official identifier, and you’ll need it to file taxes, open business accounts and more.
New moving companies that plan to offer long-distance moves must also file paperwork with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Compliance with this requirement for interstate moving companies is mandatory, and if you fail to report your company, you may face fines and even suspension. Double-check to make sure you have all your legal ducks in a row.
It’s a fact: sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Never is this more true than when starting a new business. Your biggest expenditure will undoubtedly be your moving truck or van, as this is an absolute necessity for starting a moving business. However, small moving companies have few overhead costs outside of basic necessities, including:
When you’re purchasing equipment for your business, keep in mind that every move involves a minor emergency — someone forgot to get more tape, for example, or your client runs out of bubble wrap. Having extra supplies at the ready is a nice touch that removes extra stress from an already-stressful move.
While your customers should opt for their own insurance to cover any damages during a move, you should opt for your own insurance to protect yourself from liability on the job. There are four primary types of insurance carried by movers:
Shopping for liability insurance is no one’s idea of a good time, but it’s absolutely essential to running a moving company. As they say, better to have legal protection and not use it than to need it and not have it!
Once you’ve got all the paperwork in order, it’s time to get the word out there. The method you’ll use to market your new moving business’s services will differ depending on how you want to plan your advertising. Remember, this is a great place to leverage that competitor review you did earlier.
Almost every potential customer starts their search for a moving service by running a simple web search. The results can vary widely, from paid ads and sponsored content to generic links to gargantuan national companies. Generally, local moving companies are lost in subsequent results pages. That’s why companies must take a multi-pronged approach to achieve their advertising goals.
On the web, focus on driving search traffic by leveraging search engine optimization (or SEO), which helps you move up in the search engine results. You should also bone up on the best social media strategies for small businesses.
Offline, you can get your name out there by running print ads in the local paper, sponsoring a kids’ sports team in your town, and of course, encouraging happy customers to spread the word and send you personal referrals.
When you’re out in the field, you might be too busy to remember every little detail. And after a long day hauling furniture and boxes up and down stairs, you probably don’t want to spend your precious free time catching up on paperwork.
Software that’s designed to help sole proprietors and local businesses handle their paperwork increases productivity, boosts sales, and frees up more time for more jobs. Say goodbye to lost estimates, invoices scrawled on scratch paper, and other paper-based mishaps — everything you and your team need to know is at your fingertips.
Now, although your business may be a startup, that doesn’t mean you can’t improve the customer experience by leaps and bounds. Incorporate a smart software solution designed exclusively for small trade businesses. Instead of spending time chasing down overdue invoices, you can spend time chasing your kids in the backyard.
This might seem like an obvious point, but helpful and friendly employees are the #1 reason why customers return to a business. When customers enjoy positive exchanges with employees at every point of contact, they feel welcomed and appreciated. Providing strong customer service should always be a top priority, so impressing this tenet in your employees is critical.
Be sure to take your time when hiring your crew. Pay attention to how each candidate makes you feel: do they project professionalism? Is their manner overly casual? Each mover will represent you and your business. Be sure you’re hiring people who will make a great first impression and provide superb customer service throughout.
It’s also worth investing in moving training. Moving training focuses on how to properly pack boxes and load a truck. Providing your staff with this training teaches them the most efficient and effective way to work. Plus, sending a talented, trained team increases the impression of professionalism — vital to your business’s all-important reputation.
A great customer service experience looks different for every customer, so it’s worth paying attention to the little things. A centralized database gives your team access to customer history data, reminding them of things like how you maneuvered that extra-large couch up to the third floor…and how to get it back out.
Naturally, people have a lot of questions when it comes to moving their home or business. You should be ready with thoughtful and informative answers to the most common questions people have about moving:
Owning a moving service is not simply showing up and moving someone’s possessions from house to house. Moving is proven to be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, so the ability to form a rapport with the customer by answering questions knowledgeably and fully is just as important as the ability to lift and carry.
Although the moving industry is more consistently busy than other trade businesses, you must still keep an eye on every cent that’s coming and going, particularly while you are still getting your business on its feet. While, of course, there are many occasions you can’t plan for, a few practical tips can help your company generate more profits:
Launching a new moving company is one of the easiest ways to break into the business world. With its low barrier to entry, almost anyone can start a moving company. But if you’re new to owning a business, it may be worth investing in some sales training for yourself. Learning effective sales techniques can help you both book more jobs and boost your profits.
One trick to owning a successful moving business is to manage your important information, administration, and operations smoothly. VIIZR provides you with a suite of tools that can help you run your business as efficiently (and profitably) as possible. Take a look at some of our features and learn how they can support you as you build your business:
VIIZR’s Job Dashboards let you quickly view all the information you need to know, now. See the status of each job and check on your teams. Job Dashboards eliminate the need for confusing phone tag and missed messages. Access everything you need to run your moving company from anywhere you can access the internet.
Create quick, information-rich quotes that seal the deal. Deliver clear, detailed PDF estimates with photos that help the customer envision their move. Save records of customer approval and get to work fast.
Forget the confusing phone calls, texts and handwritten notes. Easy-to-understand, consistent work and change orders let your movers know exactly what needs to be done. If there’s a change in plans, your movers can update the job’s status and leave notes so everyone’s on the same page.
Our simple drag-and-drop scheduling feature makes it a snap for you to create a schedule that’s easy for your team to access from anywhere. Need a couple of employees who excel at heavy appliance moving? Assign specific movers directly to jobs that leverage their best qualities. VIIZR makes sure that everyone’s in the right place at the right time, every time.
One of the most important elements of a successful moving business is smart, well-thought-out truck routing. Be sure you’re making the most of every truck roll with our intuitive routing software. Let your movers know exactly where they’re expected and the best route to get there right on schedule.
Get paid faster with clean, clear, professional PDF invoices that you can generate, save, and send with just a few clicks. VIIZR’s invoicing feature works hand-in-hand with work orders, so there’s no need to transfer each line item by hand. Plus, VIIZR automatically follows up on overdue invoices, giving you even more time to figure out how to Tetris that fragile taxidermy piece into the truck.
The job’s not over when the move is complete. Keeping a detailed customer history lets you give each client interaction a personal touch. Plus, it’s important to stay in touch with existing customers. While the average American moves house only a dozen times over the course of their lifetime, great customer service and an outstanding experience can lead to word-of-mouth recommendations that bring in new clients.
Incorporating a software solution into your moving company’s operations from the very beginning helps your startup run as smoothly as it can. Field software is especially helpful as your operation grows, allowing you to centralize your operations and information and access it from anywhere. Instead of focusing on back-office tasks, you can spend more time building your business and less time on endless paperwork.
The challenges of starting a moving company business that has what it takes to go the distance are many, but in reality, it’s a doable process when it’s taken step by step. Enlisting the guidance of a law expert and a financial planner is a wise idea, but you can take care of much of the process of starting a moving company on your own!
Once you’ve finished your research, cut through all the red tape, and equipped yourself with the fleet and staff you need, you’re ready to take on your first client. Leverage the power of VIIZR to give your company the edge it needs to succeed in a crowded market. VIIZR gives you the tools you need to provide every customer with a top-notch moving experience from start to finish.
VIIZR was built to handle a moving company’s project management, invoicing, customer data, scheduling, and more. Whether you’re a one-truck operation or you aspire to move people from sea to shining sea, VIIZR helps you run your business efficiently, get paid quickly, and maximize profits and productivity. Why not check out what VIIZR can do for your moving company? Take advantage of our 14-day, no-obligation, entirely free trial and see what smart, intuitive business software does for your moving company.