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How to Start a Moving Company

Three Parts:Creating a Financial PlanDealing With Legal RequirementsFinding Customers and Growing Your Business

If you have physical strength and a vehicle that you can use as a moving van, starting a moving company could be a realistic way to make extra income or even a full-time salary. Like any business, it will require a lot of research and hard work, as well as some start-up capital, but the rewards can be great.

Part 1
Creating a Financial Plan

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    Price out equipment. In order to run a successful moving company, you'll need to have the right equipment. The most obvious necessity is a vehicle that can be used for moving large items. Your vehicle needs to be reliable and large enough for the types of moves you plan on taking on. It also must be able to protect your customers' possessions from the rain, snow, and cold, especially if you are planning on doing long distance moves. A ramp will make moving items in and out of your vehicle much easier. Make sure you understand how much all of these items will cost.[1]
    • If you don't already have a vehicle, you may be able to buy a used one from a large commercial moving company.[2] You can also try searching local dealerships' inventories online, or searching on sites like Craigslist for private sales.
    • Even if you already have a vehicle, you may want to invest in having the name of your company painted on the side. This will make you look more professional and will act as an advertisement.
    • If you can't afford a truck, you can consider renting one from a company like U-Haul for each move. Just be sure to consider the cost of the rental when calculating your rates.[3]
    • In addition to a vehicle, you will need several smaller items, including dollies, moving straps, pads and blankets, and tarps to keep items dry when transporting them into your vehicle in the rain.
    • If you offer packing services, you will need to price out these items as well so you will know how much to charge customers for them.
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    Decide how many employees you will hire. In order to be a good leader of a start-up moving company, you'll need to be not only a set of strong arms, but the effective brains of the operation. This means you might not have time to do all of the actual moving yourself. It's important to hire a few reliable and strong employees to help you get the job done. [4]
    • To get started, you may be able to hire just one or two employees. If you plan on doing a a lot of the work yourself, one additional person should be sufficient. As your business grows, you will likely need more employees.
    • Depending on your needs, you might be able to hire full-time employees, part-time employees, seasonal employees, or independent contractors. To find employees, try posting jobs on popular job boards like Craigslist or Monster.
    • Don't forget that you might need to hire people to attend to office tasks like book keeping and answering phones as well.
    • Keep in mind that hiring employees brings along with it a lot of new responsibilities, such as paying payroll taxes and providing benefits. You will have to provide all employees with a W-2 and all independent contractors with a 1099 when tax season arrives.
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    Get an insurance quote. Insurance for a moving company plays a vital role in covering any potential losses that happen. Ask insurance company representatives about rates for commercial insurance coverage for your vehicle, liability insurance for your business, and insurance for items that you will move from one location to another.[5]
    • If you plan on having employees, you also need to have worker's compensation coverage.
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    Develop a pricing structure. Before you start advertising your services to potential customers, you need to have a very clear method for quoting prices. This can be based on many different factors, such as mileage, weight, hours, or number of items.
    • When calculating your rates, think about the expenses that you need to cover before you can make a profit. These include fuel, vehicle maintenance, packing materials, employee wages, advertising costs, and insurance expenses. If you had to buy or rent a truck, you also need to consider those costs.[6]
    • You need to decide exactly what services you will offer. For example, some moving companies offer packing services, while others do not. If you decide to offer this service, you need to determine how much it will cost you to provide and how much you want to charge for it.[7]
    • Be sure to keep the competition in mind when developing a price structure. If you don't have an established reputation, you will probably gain more business by charging less than your competitors.[8]
    • Keep in mind that some states have restrictions on the amount you are allowed to charge for moving services. Check with your state's Department of Transportation to find out what restrictions apply.[9]
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    Create a business plan. Once you know a little more about the moving industry and you decide that starting your own moving company is the right decision for you, it's time to get serious about planning. A business plan is a formal document that you create to help yourself understand the steps that you need to take to start your business. You will also present it to anyone who will be financially invested in your company, such as lenders or partners. This is a critical step when starting any kind of business because it helps you understand all of the expenses that will be involved in starting your business and forces you to create a plan for managing and promoting your business.[10]
    • You must do market research in order to create a viable business plan. You can consult industry publications to learn about the trends specific to the moving industry. The U.S. Small Business Administration is a great place to start looking for data relevant to your business.[11] You can do primary market research by surveying people in your community about their moving needs and finding out what your competitors are offering and how much they are charging for their services.
    • Your business plan should contain detailed sections about how your company will be structured, how many employees you will hire, what services you will offer, what market you will target, how you will promote your business, who your competitors are, how you will stand out from your competitors, what your expenses will be, how you will fund your business, and what your projected profits are.
    • Your business plan should help you understand exactly how much money you will need to start your business. If you need to borrow money, the lending institutions will want to take a close look at your business plan, so make sure it's thorough.
    • If you have never written a business plan before, consider hiring a professional to help you.
    • When thinking about how you will operate your business, choose a specific niche of the industry. For example, you could focus on people who need furniture delivered to them from a store, on college students moving in and out of apartments, or on wealthy customers who need fragile valuables moved. You need to make sure the kind of customer you are targeting is plentiful in your area.[12]
    • Make sure there is demand in your area for your services. There is no magic formula for finding the perfect market, but your market research should give you insight into how many people live in the area, how many people use moving services, and how much disposable income most people have.
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    Apply for a loan. If you need to borrow money to start your business, you will need to visit local banks and.or credit unions to apply for a small business loan.
    • Be prepared to provide a lot of documentation to support the viability of your business. This may include things like your business plan, your tax returns, and a personal resume.[13] Requirements may vary by institution.
    • The U.S. Small Business Administration offers a variety of small business loan products, so be sure to see if you qualify.[14]

Part 2
Dealing With Legal Requirements

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    Research license requirements. Depending on what state you plan on operating in, you may need a special license from the Department of Transportation. Each state has its own set of requirements, so contact your state's DOT to learn more.[15]
    • If you plan on doing interstate moves, you will need to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation.[16]
    • Some states require a certain amount of experience in the moving industry and/or a specified amount of startup capital, so be sure to check your state's requirements. New York, for example, requires that the owner or a key employee have at least two years of relevant experience, which must be supported with tax documents. New York also requires you to provide proof that you have the necessary equipment to run your business and enough money to cover your start-up costs. [17]
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    Incorporate your business. In order to legally operate a business, you must register the business with your state. Each state in the United States has a slightly different process for registering a business. You can find complete instruction on your state's Secretary of State's website.[18]
    • You can choose from several different business structure options, each of which has its own benefits and drawbacks. Sole proprietorships and partnerships offer tax benefits, but the owners maintain full liability for the company. Corporations offer protection against liability, but owners often end up paying higher taxes. Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) offer small business owners tax benefits and protection against liability. There are different legal requirements and fees for establishing each type of business.[19]
    • You will need to choose a name when you incorporate your business. The name has to be distinguishable from all other businesses registered in your state, so check with your state's filing agency to make sure your desired name is available before you begin the application process. It's also a good idea to check with the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office to make sure that you will not be violating any trademarks by using the name.[20]
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    Register with the IRS. In addition to registering with your state, you need to apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. You can apply on the IRS's website by completing a simple application and answering basic questions about your business. You can also apply by fax, by mail, or over the phone.[21]
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    Finalize everything. Before you start to accept any work, you need to make sure that everything you have spent so much time researching has come together. This includes completing the applications for licenses and finalizing your insurance coverage. Now is also an excellent time to begin purchasing equipment and hiring employees, if you have not done do already.
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    Create a contract. You will need to present each customer that you work for with a detailed contract that describes the nature of the work you will be doing, the price that has been agreed upon, and information about how to resolve disputes. You should develop a template before you start working so it will be ready for your first client.[22]
    • You may want to consider talking to a lawyer about what kind of language you need to include in your contract to protect your business.
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    Keep good books. You'll need to keep careful track of all of your expenses and profits, not only for internal accounting and to keep track of your goals, but also for tax purposes.[23]
    • Think about outsourcing accounting. Even some of the smallest businesses rely on skilled accountants to help them with the paperwork side of their business. You may be the best mover around, but without a great head for numbers, you may have a problem.

Part 3
Finding Customers and Growing Your Business

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    Create a website. The majority of your customers will search for you online, so it's essential to have a user-friendly website. At the very least, your website should include information about your business and your history in the moving industry, details about the quoting process, contact information, and a description of the services you offer.[24]
    • If possible, allow customers to schedule quotes online, view your availability, or read testimonials from other customers.
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    Start with friends. One of the easiest ways to start your business is by helping people you already know with their moves. You can be on the lookout for any announcements related to moving that your friends make on social media. Once you have provided good service to friends, they are likely to recommend you to others.[25]
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    Distribute business cards and flyers. In order to spread the word about your business, have some professional looking promotional materials printed and distribute them around your community.[26]
    • You can distribute business cards at public events, tuck them into local bulletin boards, or even print them in directories, yearbooks, and other local print media.
    • Flyers can be mailed, posted in public places, or distributed to businesses that might be able to refer customers to like you, such as furniture stores.
    • Make sure you have a professional, recognizable logo that is consistent across all of your marketing materials.
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    Network for promotion. Another way to get your business's name out there is to make yourself visible. Whether it's by working with partners at local events, volunteering, or using your vehicle for an ad campaign, visibility is key for driving business.
    • Build relationships with influential people in your community. Realtors are a great source of referrals to movers, as are the owners of local furniture stores or the office staff at a large apartment complex.[27]
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    Seek out free advertising opportunities. You can use directory sites like Craigslist to advertise your services to people in your local community for free. Social media is also a great way to spread the word about your business.[28]
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    Consider paid advertising. There are many options for advertising, depending on your budget and your target market. Consider options like PPC advertising, television and radio commercials, newspaper ads, direct mail flyers, or memberships with referral services.
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    Gain a good reputation. The best thing you can do to grow your business is to provide excellent service to your customers. Be sure to always be on time, be friendly, be respectful of your customers' belongings, and offer accurate price quotes.[29]
    • Be sure to ask your happy customers to post reviews about you online. New customers will see these reviews and will have more faith in you as a reputable company if they see that others have had a good experience.
    • You will inevitably end up having to deal with an unhappy customer at some point, but do your best to resolve the problem to the customer's satisfaction. The last thing you want is negative reviews about your business circulating the internet!


  • Before starting your own business, it's a good idea to have at least some experience in the field. This will help you better understand what goes into operating a moving company and will give you a good idea of whether or not you even like the business. One way of gaining experience is by working as an employee for another moving company. This will give you good insight into how established moving companies operate.
  • Evaluate your physical abilities and general health to be sure working as a house mover is an option. Moving furniture and other heavy objects requires a high level of physical shape and stamina.
  • In addition to helping people move to new houses, you may also consider offering junk hauling services.[30]

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Categories: Buying & Forming a Business