How to Start a Moving Company

A residential or commercial moving business could be a great way for you to start a successful company. We’ve never had more choices of where to live or work — that need for relocation means there’s plenty of opportunities for starting a reliable and trustworthy moving venture.

You’ll need to balance demand for moving services in your local area against the costs of buying the equipment and hiring employees to help people relocate. You may also want to buy into a moving franchise, or strike out on your own and build a company from scratch. Perhaps you became interested after helping people move through a contract service like U-Haul.

There are lots of questions involved in starting a moving business, and we’re here to help. We’ve supported over 100,000 people to form their business and provided answers to transform them into entrepreneurs. We’ll guide you through what you need to know to start your relocation company and get it off the ground.

From validating your business and doing the research to filing your paperwork and running your venture, this guide will help you out. We’ll talk you through the main things you need to do to get your moving company off of the ground.

moving company

Read on for some insight into creating your own moving business and becoming an entrepreneur. In this guide we will cover:

  • Statistics on why you should start a moving company
  • How to find out if a moving business is right for you
  • Different types of relocation businesses
  • How to validate your moving business idea
  • Business plans for moving companies
  • Choosing the right business structure for your moving venture
  • How to start your moving business with information on equipment, employees, location, permits, finances, taxes and more
  • Groups, forums and support for moving business owners
  • Useful online tools for moving business owners

Why You Should Start a New Moving Business

There are plenty of opportunities for moving business entrepreneurs. Here are some surprising statistics on the size and potential of the U.S. moving industry:

3M

Number of households make interstate moves every year.

650K

Number of moves a professional movers assist a year, the remainder are carried out by families themselves

35M

Americans move each year (around 15 million households)

;
chart showing breakdown of moving company customers

The main customers of moving companies are individuals at 44 percent, followed by corporations at 38 percent; military and other moves make up the remainder

  • The moving industry is primarily made up of small businesses — almost half of all moving businesses employ fewer than five people
  • The average cost of a move is $2,300 in the same state, and $4,300 for interstate relocations
  • Household goods account for nearly three-quarters of all items moved, followed by electronic office equipment
  • Almost half of all moves are housing related, 30 percent are family related and 20 percent are job-related

This is why moving businesses are so exciting — how can you be part of that success? We're here to help you figure that out.


Is a Moving Business Right for You?

Before deciding to start a moving business, it’s important to understand the skills and approach you’re likely to need.

starting a Moving Business

A Day in the Life of a Moving Business Owner

Here are some of the typical tasks you’ll be performing for your moving business on a daily basis.

  • Dealing with customer inquiries on moving logistics
  • Providing quotes for moving based on services needed, quantity of goods and distance of move
  • Helping people to pack up their belongings for a safe move
  • Loading and securing goods in a moving truck
  • Driving a moving truck to the required destination
  • Unloading the truck as required by the customer
  • Arranging for maintenance and servicing of vehicles
  • Marketing your moving business
  • Sending out invoices, taking payments and financial management
  • Scheduling required moving services
  • Dealing with employees and assigning tasks

Skills Needed by a Moving Business Entrepreneur

The following skills will be very useful in your role as a moving business owner:

  • Good strength, physical fitness and coordination for moving goods and driving trucks
  • Strong interpersonal skills for dealing with clients, managing employees and resolving conflicts
  • Reasonable administration skills for business management, scheduling and finances
  • Estimation skills for understanding necessary services and providing accurate quotes
  • Good marketing skills to build word of mouth and promote your moving business

What Your Moving Customers Are Looking For

Moving is a huge hassle and overhead for almost everyone. Relocating customers want peace-of-mind, reliability and trustworthiness. Ultimately, they’re paying a fee to a moving company so that they don’t need to worry about every tiny detail of moving. They’ll want you to have a proven track record, good reviews and to be completely up-to-date with your insurance.

Customers may also be looking for a range of services. For example, some will want to pack goods themselves, while others are happy to pay to have their house packed by professionals. Some will want you to collect goods from every room, while others will move things to the front door. You’ll need to tweak your services to meet customer needs, do what you say you will and be accurate and timely.


What Type of Moving Business Should You Start?

There are several different types of moving business that you can start. Here are some of the more popular options:

hat with franchise logo

Start a Franchise Moving Business

Franchises can have several advantages for moving business owners. You’ll get help with branding, promotions and marketing, together with support and guidance on setting up your relocation company. You will need to pay a franchise fee, possibly on both a one-time and ongoing basis. You’ll also need to meet the licensing requirements of the franchisor.

shipping box

Start a Local Moving Business

To begin with, you might want to just do small, local moves within your city and the surrounding area. This will help you resolve issues early on and will reduce the costs of buying equipment and hiring employees. You can build a name for yourself in the local market.

map

Start a Regional or Interstate Moving Business

If you’ve got plenty of ambition and capital, then it might be worth starting up a slightly bigger moving business that does interstate and long distance relocation. You will probably need to buy more vehicles and hire more employees, but you can also charge higher fees.

moving truck

Start a Commercial Moving Business

It’s not just individuals that want to relocate — commercial businesses need to move too. You could start a specialized office moving company that helps move office furniture, equipment and other items. This may be a less crowded niche in your local area, but there’s also a smaller customer base, so it's important to do your research.


Validating Your Moving Business Idea

These are all great starting points, but you will need to build on them to make your relocation business your own. You have unique skills and insight that you can use to create a moving business that will really stand out.

  • Identify your moving business’ unique selling points (USPs):You will want to sell the benefits of your relocation services to your customers. It’s important to identify what you do well and use this as the basis for your offerings. Consider the range of moving services you offer, your track record, the skills of your employees or anything else that sets you apart.
  • Look at who your competitors are in the space: Having competitors is a good thing as it shows there’s a market — but if there are too many, you’re likely to struggle without a really good unique selling point. Bear in mind how likely people are to move to or from your local area and compare this to the number of existing moving businesses to start understanding the potential market size.
  • Understand your market: Clearly identify exactly who your relocation customers are likely to be, where they hang out and how you’re going to reach them. This will be essential to your marketing, communications, sales and customer support.
  • Talk to clients: Speak with potential customers to understand what they want from your relocation services, and validate this by asking if they would commit to spending real money on them. Ask them to get into the details, so you can tailor your moving offerings.
  • Get involved with business communities and discussion groups: One of the great things about moving business is that there are some good discussion groups. Get involved in them and learn the ins and outs of your chosen market before committing.
moving business research

Not every idea you have will make it through to becoming a moving business. There are all sorts of reasons to say “yes” or “no” to specific businesses, so think about what your strengths and weaknesses are so you can choose a type of relocation business you’d be great at.


Your Moving Business Needs a Plan

You need to define how you’re going to run your moving business, market yourself, get sales, make a profit and grow. This can only come about by creating a watertight business plan. It will help you get your thinking in order and show your commitment to your moving business.

Your relocation company needs a business model, which is how you will generate sales, provide services and make money. Think about your business model now, because it’s better to have that in place so you can start acquiring customers and generating revenue from day one.

Business plans do vary slightly, but they should all cover the following areas:

develop a business plan
  • 1An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan
  • 2Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your moving business
  • 3A description of your moving business, background information and context
  • 4A market analysis and likely demand based on the relocation niche that you’re serving
  • 5An overview of how your moving business is structured
  • 6Your business model and how you’ll operate
  • 7How you will market and sell your offerings
  • 8Financial projections, revenue and profitability
  • 9Appendices

We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.


Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Moving Business

There are five main business structures you can have in the U.S., and it’s important to choose the right one. We’ve shared your options below. They are:

Sole Proprietorship

Sole Proprietorship

If you don’t choose to form a legal business entity for your moving business, you will be a sole proprietor by default. This won’t give you the legal protections you need, so we do not recommend this.

Partnership

Partnership

Similar to a sole proprietorship, if you go into business with someone else without forming a legal business entity, you will be treated as a partnership. This doesn’t give you limited liability protections, so we don’t recommend it for your moving business.

Limited Liability Company or LLC

Limited Liability Company or LLC

The most common type of business entity. An LLC is fast, simple and inexpensive to set up and maintain. It protects your personal finances and assets and is a great way to start your moving business.

S Corporation

S Corporation

This is a more complex type of business and isn't generally recommended for smaller organizations.

C Corporation

C Corporation

These are the largest and most complex types of businesses, and they are typically far more than the average entrepreneur or moving business owner will need.

For more information on the advantages and disadvantages of different types of businesses, please see our in-depth guide. If you’ve still got questions, we’ve answered them to help you choose the right business structure for your moving business.

In most cases, our recommendation for your moving business would be to create an LLC. We’ve got a complete guide to everything you need to do. LLC formation does vary from state to state, but we’ve got you covered, wherever you are.

Start your business with us, today!


Setting up Your Moving Business and Business Operations

Once you've legally created your moving business, you’ll need to get some other things in place.

Location of Your Moving Business

Location of Your Moving Business

You will almost certainly need office space for your moving business. You’ll need room to store your vehicles and equipment, meet with employees and clients, store goods as required and otherwise manage your business. Ideally, the office space should be located close to a major highway to make it quicker and easier to drive a moving truck to your customers.

Equipment for Your Moving Business

Much of the capital expenditure for your business will be for vehicles, equipment and consumables. You will need to purchase a moving truck, moving tools, packing materials, safety equipment and various other supplies. You’ll also need a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Equipment for Your Moving Business
Marketing Your Moving Business

Marketing Your Moving Business

Marketing will be a huge part of your moving business. Word-of-mouth and referrals will be necessary for attracting customers, and you’ll also want a really good website. Focus on delivering excellent customer service to get good reviews, which will help to drive customer acquisition.

Software and Processes

The right software and processes will make running your moving business much easier. See our list of the best apps and software at the end of this guide.

computer software
employees

Employees

If you’re managing very small, local moves, you can probably run the business yourself. If you’re doing anything larger, like whole-house moves, you will likely need to hire at least one other person. For bigger moves, or if you want to do more moves at once, you’ll need to hire even more employees.

Finances and Taxes

You will need a separate business bank account for your moving business, and you might also want to consider a business credit card. Additionally, you will also need to keep careful bookkeeping records and file business and personal taxes. Here at Incfile, we can even help you file your taxes.

taxes

Our Start a Business Checklist will get your business going in the best possible way.


Rules, Regulations and Taxes for Your Moving Business

You can’t escape real-world licenses, permits and regulations. You will need to explore local, state and federal licenses and permits, and we can also help out with researching your business licensing needs.

Taxes

Taxes are a fact of life if you’re in business, and there are various ways you will need to file and pay them. This can include self-employment tax, state income tax and federal income tax. Depending on where and how you’re selling products and services, you may also be liable for sales and use tax.

As a rule of thumb, we recommend holding back around a third of your earnings to pay your taxes. We can also prepare and file your tax returns for you.

Maintaining Your Moving Business

There are certain forms and legalities you need to follow to keep your moving business in good standing.

File an Annual Report

Most states require all businesses to file a report once a year. This report has details of any major changes to who owns a business and other major impacts on a business’ legal status. We can file your Annual Report on your behalf.

Pay Estimated Taxes

You will be expected to pay estimated taxes on what you plan to earn in the current business year. Typically, you will need to pay estimated taxes in April, June, September and January (of the following year).

Renew Business Permits and Licenses

Your business will probably have several licenses, permits and other regulations. These typically need to be renewed every year.

File Your Taxes

You will need to file your taxes once a year.

Pay Payroll and Sales Taxes

If applicable, you will need to make payroll and sales tax payments on a regular basis.

Prepare Your Taxes

You will need to work with your accountant to prepare all the taxes you need to pay.

Insurance for Your Moving Business

All moving businesses should have comprehensive business insurance. There are various types.

Workers Compensation Insurance for Your Moving Business

Workers’ compensation insurance provides coverage for job-related illnesses, disabilities or injuries that affect employees. Regulations for this insurance vary from state to state. It typically covers areas like medical costs, loss of earnings, compensation and retraining. This is essential for a moving business as handling large, heavy and awkward items could expose your employees to risk of injury.

General Liability Insurance for Your Moving Business

This insurance protects your moving business from claims due to being sued. This may include injury to members of the public, property damage, personal liabilities, legal defense and more. It can help protect your business from financial penalties and bankruptcy. This type of insurance is essential to your moving business as you will be going into and out of homes, and moving large items invites risks. You will also need to arrange to have your clients' property insured while you’re holding or transporting it.

Specialized Office and Auto Insurance for Your Moving Business

You will want commercial office and vehicle insurance to cover your assets.

Groups and Forums for Moving Business Owners

Here are some useful places where you can connect with other moving entrepreneurs.

Useful Online Tools for Your Moving Business

Here are some really great online tools for managing your moving business. They will reduce the time you spend on administration, help you to collaborate with others and free up your time to grow and manage your new venture.

Project Management

Asana, Basecamp, Trello

Productivity

Todoist, Evernote

Collaboration

Google Docs, Dropbox, Box

Social Media Management

Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, BuzzSumo

Communication

Skype, Grasshopper, Slack, Yammer

Email Marketing

MailChimp, CampaignMonitor

Advertising

Google AdWords, Bing Ads

Marketing Automation

HubSpot, Hatchbuck

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

SalesForce, Insightly, Zoho CRM

Customer Support

ZenDesk, GetSatisfaction, SurveyMonkey

Human Resources

Gusto, Hire Athena

E-Commerce

Volusion, Recurly, Vendio, Square

Website Development

Snapweb, SquareSpace, WordPress

Hiring

ZipRecruiter


Conclusion

As you can see, there are some great opportunities to start a successful relocation and moving business. If you can find a great niche, understand your competitors and put together a solid business plan, you will have every chance for success.

Start your moving business with us, today!