Your orders have come in and you know you’re going to be shipping to a new duty base soon. It may barely feel like any time has passed since your last move. Yet, here you are getting ready to do it all over again.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed.
After all, you’re getting ready to ship your family and everything you own to a new location. Just the thought of packing up those boxes may make you feel ill. And then you have to figure out how to find the best military movers for the job.
The good news is that we can help you with that task.
This article shares the crucial tips to help find the best moving companies for military families and solo personnel.
Tip No. 1 – Start With Military-Friendly Moving Companies
This may seem like a simple tip at first. But once you start your search for a moving company, you’ll soon find that you have dozens of options available. From local movers to those that specialize in long-distance or overseas moves, you’ll have a plethora of choices.
Having options is good because it means you can move on to other companies if you’re not happy with what you hear from a mover. But it’s also overwhelming as you may not know where to start when creating your shortlist of potential companies.
That’s where this tip comes in handy.
Check the mover’s website before you speak to them directly. If there’s no mention of military moving on the site, you can safely assume the company doesn’t have a specialized service catering to military personnel. That means they likely don’t understand duty base restrictions or the short-notice nature of military moves.
The best military moving companies are always the ones that specify that they help with military moves. Use that fact to create your shortlist.
Tip No. 2 – Ask for Military-Approved Moving Companies
You’re not the first person in the military who’s had to make a move. And you certainly won’t be the last. Almost everybody you work with will have to move bases at least once during their careers. The military understands this, which is why it partners with several moving companies to help with household goods (HHG) moves.
Take advantage of that fact.
Speak to your direct supervisor to ask if there are any military-approved moving companies that are worth investigating. You should get a short list of companies that handle military moves and likely offer discounts to servicemembers.
These pre-approved companies come with the experience you’re looking for. However, don’t assume you have to work with a military-approved mover. There are plenty of other companies that aren’t in direct partnership with the military that still offer great services. Instead, use this advice to give you a small group of companies to add to your shortlist.
Tip No. 3 – Ask Other Personnel for Recommendations
Once you have a list of military-approved movers, it’s time to cast your net wider for any other army moving company you can find. That’s where military personnel come in. As we mentioned, almost everybody you work with has experience of moving when they’re assigned a permanent change of station (PCS). As such, you have a huge collective of people who can point you in the right direction when you’re searching for the best military moving companies.
Ask about the companies your colleagues used.
Did they have good experiences? Would they recommend the company to others? What, if any, issues did they have? Use these questions to get a basic idea of how the mover treats its clients. You may find patterns of poor service that lead to you scratching a potential mover off your shortlist. Or, your questions may lead you toward a company that consistently offers great service.
Tip No. 4 – Check Online
By this point, you should have a small list of companies you’re considering. Your next step is to do some in-depth research. This involves more than running a search for “military moving companies near me” and checking out the top results. You have to dig deeper into every mover you have on your list.
Start with their websites. As mentioned, you should see specific pages for military moves that show you the company has experience in working with people who have the same needs as you. Beyond that, look for information about how long the company has been in business and its process for handling your move.
While reading this information, remember one thing:
What a company says on its website is intended to cast it in the best light possible.
In other words, your online research has to go beyond checking out company websites. Search for reviews on social media and Google. Find out as much as you can about what other people have to say about the service they receive. In a perfect world, you’ll see lots of five-star reviews from happy clients. If you don’t see that, put serious thought into whether you’d be able to trust the mover when so many other people report having bad experiences.
The web is a valuable research tool. Use it to learn as much about every army moving company on your list.
Tip No. 5 – Ask About a Moving Inventory
Eventually, you’ll start getting in touch with what appear to be the best military moving companies according to your initial research. These conversations give you a chance to ask questions about each mover’s processes.
With that in mind, always ask about the company’s moving inventory procedure.
Any moving company worth its salt will conduct a thorough walk-through that includes taking a full inventory of the HHGs you want to move. They should send an estimator who’ll work with you to figure out what you plan to take and what you’ll leave behind. This inventory process also helps the moving company figure out the overall weight and bulk of the move, which affects how many people they assign to it and, ultimately, the move’s cost.
Don’t work with any army moving company that doesn’t do a walk-through. A lack of inventory means the company has no idea how much it needs to transport. This lack of knowledge could mean the mover hits you with additional fees if it underestimates the size of your move.
Tip No. 6 – Ask for a Door-to-Door Move
Sometimes, you won’t be able to avoid sending your HHGs to storage. For example, you may have to send your goods ahead of your actual move, meaning they need to be kept somewhere. But whenever possible, it’s a good idea to ask for a door-to-door move.
Door-to-door moves are exactly what they sound like. The army moving company collects your HHGs from your location and transports them directly to your new accommodation. There’s no storage involved, which means a lower risk of items getting lost or stolen. If the timings align, always ask for a door-to-door move ahead of one involving storage.
Tip No. 7 – Ask About Discounts
By this point, you might ask yourself why you’d even search for an army moving company in the first place. The military provides free moving services through your local Transportation Office for moves that you can’t opt out of. Wouldn’t it be easier to just arrange the move through them rather than doing it yourself?
It would be easier. But handling the move yourself could lead to getting paid a little bit of money for moving.
Here’s how it works.
If you opt for a personally procured move (PPM), the military will still give you 95% of what it would cost the government to handle the move for you. If you’re able to spend less than that 95% on your PPM move, you get to keep the difference.
This is where discounts come in.
Many moving companies for military personnel offer discounts on their services. If you can apply that discount to end up spending less than 95% of what the military would spend on handling the move for you, that means you get a few extra dollars to take to your new duty station courtesy of Uncle Sam.
Tip No. 8 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Your online research should indicate whether the army moving company you’re working with offers food customer service. But there’s no harm in doing a little investigating yourself. Do that by asking as many questions as possible.
Of course, you’ll ask questions whenever there’s something you don’t know.
However, questions serve the secondary purpose of testing the movers to see how responsive they are. Ideally, you’ll work with a company that’s quick to respond to your queries. This shows that they’re keen to make the move as simple as possible and have nothing to hide.
A moving company that’s slow to respond or that tries to deflect your questions is one that you shouldn’t trust. The best military moving companies aren’t afraid to answer any questions you have.
Tip No. 9 – Check the Mover’s Credentials
Having followed the tips presented thus far, you might feel that everything checks out with your army moving company. But don’t rush into signing a contract just yet. You still need to check the mover’s credentials.
There are a few things to look for when checking out your movers.
First, confirm that the moving company carries approval from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). You’ll need to do this if you’re having the military pay for the move on your behalf. GSA approval means the movers have signed a GSA Schedule contract to sell products or services to the government.
Second, head to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Company Snapshot database. This handy resource lets you use any of the following details to check on a moving company:
- USDOT Number
- MC Number
- MX Number
Request any or all of these details from your army moving company and check them in the database. You should see a result that tells you the company is approved to drive commercial vehicles, has full operational status, and carries relevant liability insurance. If the snapshot doesn’t show you those things, look for another mover.
Tip No. 10 – Ask for Guaranteed Reservations
Efficiency is critical for a military move. You can’t work with a company that won’t guarantee your moving date. If you do, you run the risk of the company dropping out at the last minute, leaving you to scramble to find a storage option for your HHGs. Of course, a company that drops out also leaves you without your HHGs when you arrive at your new base.
So, ask the simple question:
Is my moving data guaranteed?
Assuming that’s the case, ask the moving company to provide its confirmation in writing. Doing so gives you some legal recourse if the movers renege on the date you’ve agreed with them.
Tip No. 11 – Say No to Large Deposits
The best military movers won’t ask for a dollar from you until it’s time to handle your move. That means any operators who ask for a deposit present you with an immediate red flag.
If you decide to pay a deposit, never pay more than 20% of the move’s total cost. There are plenty of movers out there who don’t ask for deposits, so don’t get pressured into paying more than you’re comfortable with. Even if you do choose to pay a deposit, always use a credit card. Paying by credit card allows you to withdraw or contest the charge if the moving company doesn’t deliver on its promise.
Find the Right Military Moving Company
Finding the best military movers is a time-consuming experience. But going down the PPM route means you have full control over the move and may even pocket a few dollars from the government. Of course, that only happens if you can find a trustworthy moving company.
At Military Car Shipping, we can help you with every aspect of your move. From shipping a car safely to getting your HHGs to your new location, our experienced team handles the tough stuff for you. If you’d like to learn more or want to get a quote from military moving professionals with over 30 years of experience, call 888-230-9894 or get in touch with us online.