Whether you’re relocating for the first time or have been through the moving process on numerous occasions, it’s important do your homework before settling on a mover. Unless you have the resources to handle a move on your own, you’ll need to hire either a moving broker or a moving company to coordinate and execute your relocation.

Here are a few good questions to ask before you sign a contract with a moving broker or moving company.

1. Are You a Moving Broker or a Moving Company?

If you’re researching movers online, it’s extremely easy to fill out a basic quote form and receive a response from relocation specialist. Or so you think. It’s imperative to ask whether you are dealing with a moving broker or a moving company so you know exactly what to expect in terms of services, costs, and customer care.

Since the differences between the two businesses are considerable, here’s a brief explanation:

·  Moving Brokers: Brokers are not actual movers, and they are not authorized or licensed to transport goods. They don’t own their own equipment or moving trucks, nor do they employ moving staff. Simply put, brokers negotiate with moving companies to arrange transportation for your belongings.

·  Moving Companies: A moving company is a licensed business that is capable of transporting household goods. They typically own their own trucks, and they often have affiliations with larger moving companies, such as Allied Van Lines. They also have the equipment, resources, and a staff of professionally trained movers with the skills to handle relocations of various sizes or distances.

2. Will You Provide an In-Home Consultation?

A broker will typically provide a moving estimate by phone or email after a brief exchange about your household size and your belongings. The broker uses that information to prepare an estimate for your move and submits it to moving companies for bids.

On the contrary, a professional moving company should send a trained estimator to your home to provide a consultation, take an inventory of your belongings, and provide you with an itemized moving estimate. Since you’ll be meeting with a representative from the moving company in person, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss the needs of your household, your budget, and ask questions about the relocation process.

3. Are You Registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)?

This is the most important question to ask before hiring a moving broker or a moving company since both brokers and moving companies are required to register with the FMCSA. In addition, brokers are required to use movers that are registered with the FMCSA.

To further protect consumers, the FMCSA also requires brokers and interstate moving companies to provide you with the Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet, and the Ready to Move brochure. The overall purpose of these publications is to ensure that you know your rights and responsibilities before your household belongings are transported.

Whether you decide to conduct research for your upcoming move online or ask family and friends for references, be sure to check the FMCSA website to ensure that the broker or moving company is legitimate and the Better Business Bureau website to see if they are reputable.

As the oldest professional moving company in Houston, Westheimer Transfer & Storage Co., Inc. has the experience and knowledge to plan and execute local and long-distance moves, as well as international relocations. Call us today to learn more about our expertly trained movers and our comprehensive relocation services, or you can get started right away by completing our convenient online form to request a free, in-home moving estimate.