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How to Start a Moving Company

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Published on November 24, 2021

Updated on September 23, 2022

How to Start a Moving Company

Disclaimer: Step by Step Business’ content is for informational and educational purposes only. It’s not intended to be a substitute for professional legal or tax advice. All of our articles are thoroughly reviewed and fact-checked by our editorial team. Read our editorial guidelines for more details.

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Fast Facts

Investment range

22,750 - $106,800

Revenue potential

$104,000 - $416,000 p.a.

Time to build

1 – 3 Months

Profit potential

$41,000 - $83,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Full-time

How to Start a Moving Company

Are you the go-to person to call when a friend is moving and needs some muscle? 

Moving from one home to another, even if it’s a short distance, is hard to do without help. That’s why movers are always in demand. It’s also a line of work with great profit potential. With many people leaving cities these days for wide-open spaces, the moving industry is growing — and it might be the perfect time to jump in and start your own moving company.

Of course, it’s not easy to start a moving company, or any business. You’ll face challenges along the way, but the key is to gain the necessary knowledge and move patiently through the launch and development process, as detailed in this step-by-step guide.

Keep reading and you’ll soon be on your way to running your own successful moving company!

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

No business comes without pros and cons. You should consider them carefully to decide if a moving company is right for you.

Pros

  • Rewarding – Make people’s lives easier and less stressful
  • Simple Model – Good money for straightforward services
  • Profit Potential – Scale by adding trucks, employees; the potential is unlimited

Cons

  • Recruiting – Turnover is high; finding reliable workers could be difficult
  • Fatigue – Labor-intensive work and potentially long days
  • High costs – Moving truck is crucial, and a sizable expense

Moving industry trends

The US moving industry has recovered from the pandemic slowdown, and demand is unlikely to decline anytime soon. The average American moves about a dozen times in their lifetime, according to the US Census Bureau.[1]https://www.census.gov/topics/population/migration/guidance/calculating-migration-expectancy.html

Industry size and growth

  • Industry size and past growth – Research firm IBISWorld values the US moving industry at more than $19 billion in 2022, with the pandemic restraining its growth to an average of 1% per year over the past 5 years.[2]https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/moving-services-united-states/
  • Growth forecast – The US market is expected to grow further at 2% per year through 2026.[3]https://www.technavio.com/report/moving-services-market-size-industry-in-the-US-analysis
  • Number of businesses – There are more than 18,000 moving services providers in the US.[4]https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/moving-services-united-states/ 
  • Number of people employed – The industry employs around 115,000 people.[5]https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/employment/moving-services-united-states/
moving company industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

Trends in the moving industry are:

  • Increasing use of technology to enhance customer experience and complete moving operations
  • Remote work arrangements are prompting US residents to relocate to areas with lower cost of living
  • Strong housing market[6]https://www.morningstar.com/articles/1034818/rising-rates-and-prices-wont-doom-the-us-housing-market is also driving demand for moving services

Challenges in the moving industry include:

  • High cost of relocation
  • Hiring and retaining qualified workers
moving company industry Trends and Challenges

What kind of people work in the moving industry?

  • Gender – 51% of moving consultants in the US are female, while 49% are male.[7]https://www.zippia.com/moving-consultant-jobs/demographics/#gender-statistics
  • Average level of education – Half, or 52%, of moving consultants hold a bachelor’s degree.[8]https://www.zippia.com/moving-consultant-jobs/demographics/#age-statistics
  • Average age – The average age of a moving consultant is 44 years old,
moving company industry demographics

How much does it cost to start a moving company?

Startup costs for a moving company range from about $20,000 to well over $100,000, with an average of about $65,000. Assuming you don’t already have one, your largest initial expense will be the truck. It’s a good idea to keep costs low by purchasing a used truck and building out your fleet with newer models later.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your moving company. Here’s a list to help you get started:

  • Truck(s)
  • Dollies
  • Moving pads
  • Rope and furniture straps
  • Packing supplies
  • Boxes
Startup CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$150 - $200$175
Business licenses and permits$200 - $300$250
Insurance $100 - $500$300
Business cards and brochures$200 - $300$250
Website setup $1,000 - $3,000$2,000
Initial marketing budget$100 - $500$300
Moving truck$20,000 - $100,000$60,000
Moving supplies$1,000 - $2,000$1,500
Total$22,750 - $106,800$64,775

How much can you earn from a moving company?

Your per-hour costs for a local move should come to about $60, including overhead and labor, and you should be able to charge $100 per hour, resulting in a 40% profit margin. Moving companies generally pay their workers $12-$15 per hour while charging their customers twice that amount per worker hour.

If you’re able to do five four-hour moves per week, you’d bring in more than $104,000 in annual revenue and $41,000 in profit, assuming that 40% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you add another truck, sales could climb to 20 moves per week. You’d also need to rent a commercial space and hire more staff, which would cut your margin down to about 20%. With expected annual revenue of $416,000, you’d still come away with a tidy profit of more than $83,000.

moving company business earnings forecast

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a moving company Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Expenses – The cost of a truck can be high
  • Maintenance – Trucks, especially when used, need regular maintenance
  • Reputation – Building a brand people trust takes time

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a moving company, it’s a good idea to hone your idea in preparation to enter a competitive market.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research moving companies in your area to see what they offer. Are there services you could offer that other companies don’t? Perhaps there are no “bargain” movers and you could provide a low-cost alternative. Or you could go to the other end of the range and offer a whole suite of specialty moving services, which might include packing and unpacking or securely packaging valuable items such as art and antiques.

What? Determine your products or services

To increase your revenue, you can add services beyond just moving, such as:

  • Packing and unpacking
  • Long-distance moving
  • Relocating businesses
  • Junk removal
  • Valuables packaging and moving

How much should you charge for moving services?

The average hourly price for a local move is between $80 and $200. In the beginning, you may need to be at the lower end of the range until you build brand recognition. For long-distance moving, you could charge $250 per hour or more. The average price for packing up a home is $1,000, but of course, it varies widely.

Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

Determine your target market based on your service offerings and desired brand. Do you want to be a bargain or a high-end mover? If you choose to be a bargain mover, your target demographic is likely to be college students and young professionals. You might market to them on Instagram and TikTok, rather than Facebook.

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you could keep costs low by running your business from home, assuming you have a place to park your truck. But as your business grows and operations intensify, you’ll likely need to hire workers and rent out an office or warehouse. Find commercial space to rent in your area on Craigslist, Crexi, and Commercial Cafe.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
moving company idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name

Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
  • The name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “moving” or “movers”, boosts SEO
  • Choose a name that allows for expansion: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
  • Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
  • Use online tools like the Step by Step business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that set your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Business Plan

Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:

  • Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
  • Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
  • Product and Services: Describe your moving services in detail.
  • Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
  • Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
  • Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
  • Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
  • Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
  • Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
  • Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to moving services. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your moving company will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.

Here are the main options:

  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

  • Bank loans: This is the most common method, but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a moving business.

Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits

Starting a moving company business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you will need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your moving business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks. We examine several of them below.

You may want to use industry-specific tools such as MoveitPro, SuperMove, and elromco, to help with scheduling, estimates, marketing, and more.

Accounting

  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Marketing

Some of your business will come from online visitors, but you should still invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness. 

Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products: 

  • Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area. 
  • Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
  • Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
  • Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.

Kickstart Marketing

Take advantage of your website, social media presence, and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:

  • Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as one free hour if you schedule today.
  • Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your office and website.
  • Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
  • In-Person Sales – Offer your services to real estate agents to get referrals. 
  • Post a video – Post a video about your moving services. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
  • Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
  • Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
  • Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
  • Payper-click marketing – Use Google AdWords to perform better in searches. Research your keywords first.
  • Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your services helped them.
  • Create infographics – Post infographics and include them in your content.

Develop your website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Focus on USPs

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your moving services meet their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your moving business could be:

  • Specialty moving for your most precious goods
  • Reliable discount movers
  • Guaranteed safe moving
  • Your family-owned local movers
unique selling proposition

Networking

You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a moving business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in a moving company for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in moving services. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

Step 12: Build Your Team

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may only need a few employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a moving company would include:

  • Movers – Pack, move items
  • General Manager – Customer estimates, scheduling, supplies, staff oversight
  • Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media marketing

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Start Making Money!

Very few people enjoy moving. But relocation might be necessary because of a new job. Others move to find cheaper housing and live in a place with a lower cost of living. As a mover, you can lift their burden and end their stress with your outstanding services. This is an industry that will never go away because people will always need to move! 

With a moving company, you have unlimited potential to grow and make healthy profits. And now that you have all the information you need, you’re ready to make the move and launch your successful moving company.

Moving Business FAQs

How much can you make owning a moving company?

The profit potential for a moving company is unlimited. You can start small with one truck and make a potential profit of $40,000 or more. You can eventually have a fleet of trucks and a thriving company and make well into the seven figures.

How much does it cost to start a moving company?

The startup costs for a moving company are primarily the truck or trucks. You can start with a used truck for $15-20,000. Newer trucks can cost from $70,000 to over $100,000. It might be a good idea to start small and as you earn revenue build out your fleet.

How much should I pay my moving employees?

The average hourly rate for a mover is $12-$15 per hour depending on location. You want to find reliable workers who will stick with you, so you should consider paying on the high-end to boost employee retention.

What permits do I need to start a moving company?

Your state may require you to register with the state’s department of transportation. Other licenses and permits may be required at the state and local level depending on your location. If you plan to do interstate moves, you need to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation.