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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!
22,750 - $106,800
Time to build
1 – 3 Months
$104,000 - $416,000 p.a.
$40,000 - $83,200 p.a.
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.
- 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
- 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
Research firm IBISWorld values the moving industry at $18.5 billion in 2021, up more than 5% from the previous year.https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/market-size/moving-services-united-states/ The industry has grown steadily over the last five years, 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.https://www.census.gov/topics/population/migration/guidance/calculating-migration-expectancy.html
The market is driven by home sales and new home builds, and residential real estate has been strong for some time and is expected to stay strong for years, according to financial services firm Morningstar.https://www.morningstar.com/articles/1034818/rising-rates-and-prices-wont-doom-the-us-housing-market
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.
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average|
|Setting up a business name and corportation||$150 - $200||$175|
|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 $104,000 in annual revenue and more than $40,000 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.
Once you know your expenses and prices, you can use the Step By Step profit margin calculator to project your expected profits.
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
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 varies widely.
Who? Identify your target market
Determine your target market based on your services offerings and desired brand. Do you want to be a bargain or 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 Loopnet, 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
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
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 at a web cataloging site such as NameChk. 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. And if you’ve exhausted all your creative juices but still don’t have a business name, don’t stress! Instead, check out our business name generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
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 yourself before, it can be an intimidating task. Consider hiring an experienced business plan writer on Fiverr to create a professional 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 offer real advantages when it comes to a moving company.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business!
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 four main options:
- Sole proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner: you get to keep all the profits, but you’re personally liable for all debts.
- Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses.
- Corporation – 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.
- 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.
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.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund an entrepreneur’s vision.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings, the sale of property or other assets, and support from family and friends.
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, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
Your state may require you to register with the state department of transportation. If you plan to do moves across state lines, you need to register with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
You may also need state-level licenses 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.
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.
For peace of mind and to save time, 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 you to make sure you’re fully compliant.
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.
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, Webflow, 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.
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.
Some of your business will come from the casual online visitor or word of mouth, but still you should invest in 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, make sure you link to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a particularly good way of 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.
- 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.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your moving company. Here’s a list to help you get started:
- Moving pads
- Rope and furniture straps
- Packing supplies
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 or Facebook. You can also use free classified sites like Jobs and AngelList. 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!
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the unique 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 company meets 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.
Some 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
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.
- Optimize calls to action – Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- 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
Consider a Niche
You should consider creating a niche for yourself by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry. This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing within your niche market.
Build Affiliate Relationships
Affiliate marketing is advertising in which you compensate third parties (i.e. your affiliates) in order to generate traffic to your website. You can develop long-term relationships with these affiliates and generate traffic for each other on an ongoing basis.
Wrapping it up
Very few people enjoy moving. 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
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.
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.
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.
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.