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Starting a business

How to Start a Moving Company

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and aren’t afraid of physical work, you can earn a nice living helping people with their moving needs. The moving business is largely recession-proof.

When the economy is booming, businesses expand and move into bigger offices, and individuals purchase nicer homes. When the economy is down, people downsize, trading the luxury penthouse suite for a modest flat in town. No matter if people are moving up or down, they need professionals to transport their valuable goods.

Follow this road map to determine if starting a moving company is the right business move for you, and learn the proper steps to ensure your best chance of success.

What Do Moving Companies Do?

Homeowners and business owners hire moving companies and professional movers to safely transport their belongings from one location to another. Many movers offer packing and unpacking services on top of transportation to ensure all of your belongings arrive safely to the new destination.

Moving Company Pros and Cons

You will want to weigh up the pros and cons to opening a moving business before you become a commercial mover. The benefits of starting a moving company include low barriers to entry, minimal government regulations, and constant demand. If you have a truck, the proper insurance, and working muscles, you can be in business. The Canadian government imposes no licencing requirements on moving companies.

The demand for moving services is strong, particularly in populated areas where dozens of homes are sold each day, and hundreds more people move in and out of rental units and office spaces. At the same time, operating as a residential or commercial mover means you get to meet new people all of the time, so there is a big social aspect to this line of work. There is also a lot of freedom and flexibility, as you can control your own schedule and the jobs you take on.

The biggest drawback is that the low barriers to entry invite a lot of competition. Peruse Craigslist and you’ll find plenty of folks with pickup trucks offering cheap moving services on the weekends. Keep in mind, though, that many of these movers lack insurance and proper training. Therefore, if you make the right moves to stand out from the competition, then you may be able to sidestep this downside when finding large or small moving jobs.

Real-World Examples of a Successful Moving Company

Take a look at Augusta Movers in the Toronto area for an example of a moving company that is doing it right. The company focuses on residential moves but also offers business moves to customers who request the service. It has a clean, easy-to-navigate website that shows up at the top of search engine queries. Customers can instantly receive free quotes on the website in easy-to-understand language.

Best of all, the company is doing right by its customers, as evidenced by its abundance of five-star reviews online. However, you’ll likely start on a much smaller scale; observing how a successful company like this does it can be very instructive for a new mover. Owning a moving company can be a lucrative endeavour. The demand is always strong, and the barriers to entry are low. If you are entrepreneurial and like using your muscles, this could be the career for you.

Starting a Moving Company in 12 Steps

Starting a moving company in Canada can feel overwhelming. Whether becoming a residential mover or commercial mover, you have to get your priorities in line. However, if you break down this new endeavour into manageable steps, you’ll be well on your way to booking clients in no time.

For that reason, we have created these twelve steps to make it easier for your business development. Read below to understand what exactly is needed when starting a new moving business.

1. Find a niche in the moving industry

If you decide the pros outweigh the cons and want to move forward with a moving business, you’ll probably want to establish a specific niche in the industry rather than trying to be a jack of all trades.

Determine if you’d rather focus on corporate moves, large residential clients, or quick apartment moves that require only a couple of workers and a pickup truck. The big company downtown that’s moving its headquarters into the suburbs probably isn’t hiring the same moving company as the recent graduate moving out of university housing and into his first solo apartment.

Therefore, you will want to do your research to determine what kind of niche moving market you are aiming to fill. For example, there are even moving services for heavy equipment and machinery. You may find there is more demand in one market versus another, so finding and filling a gap in a specific niche might make it easier to break into this industry. It is also a good idea to do some competitive research for some qualitative and quantitative data.

2. Sign up for moving training

Transporting a load from one destination to another may sound easy, but it is essential to have the proper training surrounding heavy lifting to protect against injury. For this reason, you might consider signing up for a few classes to learn how best to move bulky items. Should you consider hiring employees, they too should sign up for training before they start.

At the same time, you might even take some weight lifting sessions at your gym to get that form down pat. Since this is such a physically demanding job, it’s important to keep your body in peak condition to create a successful moving business.

3. Create a Business Plan

A good business plan is your guide to success, and not having one is the equivalent of driving around aimlessly while hoping to reach a favourable destination. Your business plan lays out everything: your niche, your startup and recurring costs, how you’ll obtain funding, your marketing strategy, your projected revenue, and more. Learn more about creating a successful business plan.

Perhaps you’re focusing on small residential moves and already have a truck so your initial costs consist of insurance coverage and other moving odds and ends, such as dollies and straps. You plan to utilize your natural market to start, along with free advertising platforms such as Craigslist. You’re funding your business with savings, and you have a revenue plan to get your business standing on its own two feet within 12 months. This is the kind of information your business plan should feature in as much detail as possible.

4. Register your business

When conducting business in Canada, you must ensure you have completed all of the necessary registrations and licenses to operate within the country legally. As part of your business plan, you should have determined the business structure of your own moving company. Will it be run as a sole proprietorship, partnership, or will you incorporate the business to legally protect your personal assets?

You will also need to apply for a business number from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Whether you incorporate or are a sole proprietor or partner in a business that uses GST/HST or payroll, this business number is needed to file taxes with the CRA.

You might also be asking yourself at this time, what permits do I need to start a moving company and legally operate within the country? Well, in Canada, movers won’t need an industry-specific license. That being said, moving businesses will need to cover any municipal, provincial, and federal requirements- like the business registration and business number. You should also look into any zoning requirements or sign permits surrounding moving and storage services.

5. Acquire funding

If you’re starting small and scaling up, you might be able to fund your business with savings. Particularly if you already own a truck, the costs of setting up shop in this industry are exceptionally low. You just need supplies, insurance, and probably one co-mover, as many items you’ll be transporting are too unwieldy for one person.

Another viable alternative is to keep your regular job, fund your business with that income, and start by offering moves on weekends until you build enough of a customer base to go full-time.

Another option is to borrow money. The Canada Small Business Financing Program offers low-interest loans to startups and small businesses. Or, depending on your credit history, you might get a favourable rate on a small business loan from a local bank. This is another reason why your business plan is important; along with your credit report, lenders want to see that you have a concrete plan to become profitable.

6. Obtain moving and transportation insurance

When operating a moving company in Canada, there are three main insurance policies that you should secure before taking on your first contract. These include commercial or general liability insurance, motor vehicle insurance, and worker’s compensation insurance.

Should you or one of your movers damage your client’s belongings in the move, general liability insurance will protect your business from being sued. Such insurance will offer a payout to the client to cover any damages while protecting your business assets.

As you will need a way to transport your clients’ belongings from A to B, auto insurance is also a must. Such coverage will protect your moving truck(s) should you get into an accident while moving. It can also cover necessary vehicle maintenance. In some cases, you can secure cargo and vehicle insurance together to protect both the client’s load and your moving truck.

Should your business hire other movers besides yourself, worker’s compensation insurance is mandatory coverage dictated by the government. This insurance will provide compensation to workers who have been injured on the job- a risk that all movers take on in this line of work.

Overall, one of the most important steps in creating a successful moving business is securing quality liability and cargo insurance. Due to the nature of the moving industry it is essential to protect both you and your workers, as well as client cargo.

7. Purchase moving equipment

When it comes to purchasing moving equipment for your business, you won’t have to break the bank covering these start-up costs. Here is a shortlist of must-have items when securing the necessary equipment and supplies for your moving company, including:

  • Dollies and platform dollies
  • Heavy-duty hand trucks
  • Padded covers and door jam protectors
  • Forearm forklift, moving straps, and ratchets
  • Non-skid floor runners
  • Pallet lift trucks
  • Screen carts
  • Walk boards and ramps
  • Plastic green boxes and packing materials should you offer environmentally friendly box rentals

You might decide to buy only one of each type of cart, dolly, or truck to help you keep costs low when starting out. You can even save money by buying second-hand equipment. Then, after you have numerous jobs under your belt and revenue is coming in, you can upgrade what you need when you need it.

8. Secure a warehouse if offering storage services

Whether taking on small moving jobs or large undertakings, you might consider offering storage services alongside your moving services.

Suppose you were hired to move office furniture from one building to another, except the new building won’t be ready before the company is out of the old building. Offering storage facilities for the interim time can help provide additional services for clients while also boosting monthly revenue.

Providing this extra service keeps you competitive and can give you a leg up over other moving companies that do not offer storage. However, you’ll need to make sure there is a demand for this service in your area before shelling out for these overhead costs.

9. Create a pricing structure

When constructing your moving pricing guide, you will need to factor in your business expenses for each job while keeping your prices competitive to your local market. Generally, movers will charge on an hourly basis and per mover. However, should you take on any long-distance moving jobs or full-service coast-to-coast contracts, you will also need to account for the mileage traversed and the weight of the client’s belongings.

It is common for moving companies to charge between $600 and $1700 for a local move depending on the amount of furniture and boxes that need transporting. You will also need to consider any additional charges or other services you can offer clients. These include:

  • Charging a fee for moving larger items such as pool tables, pianos
  • Offering packing services where your movers will pack and unpack the client’s belongings
  • Providing storage services
  • Adding fees to jobs with two floors or where your movers will have to navigate stairs

10. Take your moving business online

To make it in any industry these days, you have to have an online presence, including a business website and social media pages. Creating an online presence also means focusing on marketing strategies to bring more people to your website and business pages. Social media marketing is how you can get your moving business out there, interact with target audiences, and push your content to improve search visibility.

More and more people are using the internet to find their needed services. Local search has become the primary way people find what they need as more people than ever are Googling ‘local services near me.’ Therefore, you will want to optimize your website and social presence by using local SEO tactics.

You should also find the best local business directories for your industry and target market and add your business details to each. For example, adding your business to the Canadian Directory of Movers will make it easier for potential clients to find and hire your services.

11. Purchase moving leads list

Using online marketing tactics and SEO is only one of the ways you can drum up moving contracts. Many moving companies also secure leads by purchasing moving leads lists. For example, for a fee, you can acquire a list of businesses that are relocating to make it easier to contact companies or offices that you know will need your services.

Securing a quality list can make it easier to conduct outreach, as you won’t need to make as many cold calls. Buying moving leads can also help you increase your return on investment while boosting sales and growing your business.

12. Manage your finances

The final but also most essential step to running a successful moving company is the management of your finances. Consider how you will charge your clients, accept payments, and manage your business’s cash inflows and outflows.

Creating an invoice template can make it easier to tailor the charges for each moving job you take on. You can quickly set up an invoice and send it off to clients so they know what they’re paying for. At the same time, you can use accounting software to help you track invoices by clients and manage payments.

Such software, like QuickBooks Online, makes it easier to categorize monthly expenses like your insurance payments and equipment purchases while also tracking revenue and sales tax.

Unpack, track, and move your finances around like a professional when using QuickBooks Online accounting software. Try it for free today!

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