How to Ensure A Successful House Moving Experience

I recently had a conversation with a Christchurch retail store owner who mentioned she’d moved house, and who waxed lyrical about the standards of the packers and removalists she’d used.

Having recently had a not-so-successful moving experience myself, I decided to contact the owner of the company she was so enamoured with – a mid-tier, “home-grown” Auckland and Christchurch-based enterprise. I figured I’d ask him if he’d provide some advice on how to ensure a successful outcome. He was happy to do so, but told me I’d have to wait a few days for it, because his company refused to employ casuals and it’s a busy time of year for the industry . . so he was out on the road driving a truck himself.

Well, he was good for his word, and two days later, he furnished me with some fantastic industry insider insights:  this is truly news you can use next time you move home or office.

Essential Steps for A Low-Stress, Efficient House Moving Experience

(By Raymond Dobbe, Director, World Moving & Storage, NZ)

Moving house is more than the sum total of just packing someone’s possessions and trucking them to a new address. In my business, we drum into our people from the point of employment onwards, that we’re actually moving a family’s life and emotions.

It’s a serious business.

There are a lot of different stages in a professional removal, and I’m happy to provide the following advice as to how to “get them right”.

But first, these important insights into our industry:

When planning your move, if at all possible, avoid the predictably busiest times – December and January (lots of corporate moves); Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

During these times, it’s more likely that your removal will be staffed by “temps” or labour hire. These represent “bums on seats”. They usually have no proper training nor the required stamina. Worse still, they are often likely to have little respect for their job or for your possessions. (One of the primary reasons our company will not use casual labour; we’ll turn work away, if we absolutely have to.)

Most incidents happen when a removalist’s operational managers are put under pressure by sales management who love to sell – but often sell beyond a practical and healthy workload for those on the ground. So ops managers get desperate. They hate doing it, but if they have no experienced staff available on the day of the move, a client’s going to get whatever labour they can pull in.

So one of the most valuable tips I can give you is to schedule your move for a Tuesday or a Wednesday, as an ideal.

How to Select Removalists from Whom to Obtain Quotes

The best advice we can give you is to ask your friends and work colleagues who they’ve used – and if they’ve liked them or not.

Take into account / ask them:

  • Did they trust them?
  • Did they feel safe with them in their house?
  • Would they recommend them to their mother to use?

The internet is full of great PR and paid advertising; paid advertising that you don’t even realise is advertising or a paid/constructed “good news” story.

Did you know that you can even buy (off the internet) made-up testimonials in written or video form? And for $50 a day you can be at the front of Google searches.

Be very wary.

How to Interview Your Shortlistees

Choose three shortlistees from the list of companies you’ve called for quotes.

Ensure they are respectful and professional, and that they’re thinking of you and your experience.

With most removal companies employing from the same “pool”, the difference between a disastrous move, a functional move, or an awesome move, starts at the front end – with the care and attentiveness of the salesperson and the removal company he/she represents.

For example:

  • Did they confirm their appointment with you?
  • Did they arrive on time – or if they were running late, did they at least ring to tell you and apologise?
  • Did they take a full inventory and clear instructions of what you are moving – and did they relay that back to you in writing?
  • Did they provide a clear and concise quote that includes the volume (i.e. cubic metres), the inventory, and the insurance proposal?
  • Do they offer real phone numbers to call if you have a question? (Not a free call number that won’t be answered after hours; a mobile number or a direct dial.)
  • Ask them who will be on the job. Can they name a team leader and tell you about the team that they will assign to your job?
  • Will they have full-time staff assigned to your job – or will there be labour hire or casual employees assigned?

What to Look for In Your Quote

Look for clear information with regard to what is expected and what will be done:

  • Have they calculated the volume of goods to be moved?
  • Have they made a pre-move inventory of the goods they will be moving (i.e. at the time of quoting)?
  • Is there a list of things that you agreed they would not be doing?
  • Is there a removal plan and timeframe outlined?
  • Will beds and mattresses be covered?
  • Will they provide an actual inventory of items moved on the day?
  • Have they offered you insurance cover?
  • Have they been clear about their insurance obligations?

How to Ensure the Right Decisions About Insurance

Insurance is a tough decision when you are moving because it does not come cheap.

But you should think of it this way:  You insure your goods when they are safely tucked up in your house. They are never moved and are being lovingly cared for by you. So when they are being moved by strangers from A to B (sometimes via C) why should you not insure them?

Be clear about what is covered if you do take insurance.

  • Are pairs covered i.e. if one shoe is lost will they pay for a new pair of shoes?
  • Is mould and mildew covered?
  • Is an electrical item covered if the outside looks OK but it doesn’t actually work any more?
  • What is the excess?
  • Who is responsible for sourcing quotes if repairs are needed?
  • Who determines what the item is actually worth as a pay-out?

Preparing for Removal Day

If you’re packing the house yourself, the best thing you can do to make your life less stressful is start very early and pack two boxes a day. There’s always a lot more to pack than you think, so start with clothes you won’t need, junk cupboards, excess kitchen items and the garage.

The kitchen is the hardest to pack and often will represent 20 cartons’ worth alone. If you’re time-poor, have at least the kitchen, at the least, professionally packed for you.

Clean out the fridge and allow it to air out and dry before the move. If there is storage involved in your move, drying the fridge out will reduce the risk of mould setting in, as will putting six or so tea bags in the fridge to absorb remaining moisture.

Removal Day

Get lots of sleep the night before.

Moving day is a big day. If you’re run-down, the day will feel worse than it is and you’ll find it hard to cope.

If, at the end of the day, one or all of the team have done really well and you have enjoyed their company and effort – tell them. Look them in the eye and shake their hand.

If you’re really happy, offer a small tip to help them and their family. And once you are settled – send an email to their boss and tell them you were appreciative of their efforts.

Preparing for Delivery Day

Remember any undertakings e.g. trimming trees beside the driveway, emptying the spa pool, cleaning slippery steps, asking the neighbour to park well clear of the removalists’ access point.

Delivery Day

Again – this is a big day.

If you’ve travelled to a new town, overseas, or you’ve had your possessions in storage, the removal company should have numbered, labelled and inventoried the goods and given you a copy. It is a good idea, if you can, to have at least two of you at the delivery end: One to tick off your inventory as the goods are brought in off the truck, and one to direct the team to the room they’re earmarked for and to tell them where to put the items.

When the truck is empty, walk around the house with the team leader and ensure everything is where you want it:  this is the time, while you have big strong men, to move items to a better position.

Beds and sofas should be un-wrapped and assembled by the removalists.

Damaged or Lost Goods

As mentioned earlier – even with all the best training and professionalism, moving furniture is an inherently risky process, and accidents can sometimes happen.

How your chosen removal company will react to a problem isn’t easy to predict. But if there has been professionalism and integrity right throughout your contact, chances are high that you will be guided just as professionally to a resolution.

Nobody gets it right 100 percent of the time, but my philosophy, as the leader of World Moving & Storage, is that if we shoot hard for 100%, we’ll come in at 99% most of the time. But I can tell you that that 1% shortfall still hurts!

In our company, our staff are our most important asset and our most important team members – not me, nor or our trucks or our buildings. This philosophy appears to be successful, because we’ve received awards for the way we conduct our business, and the way we employ and treat staff.

Without our removalists as our ambassadors – we are nothing.

Raymond Dobbe is the owner and general manager of World Moving & Storage, an Auckland and Christchurch-based enterprise:

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