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Why Estimates Can Be Challenging

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

One of the questions I get asked by nearly every customer is to provide an estimate. People want to have an idea of what they are going to pay and how those fees are calculated. I completely understand and also understand that it must be REALLY difficult to entrust a complete stranger with your belongings and trust that they will be honorable people. After all, moving can be an extremely vulnerable time for most people. I wanted to present the other side of it so that maybe our customers could understand the challenges that we face when trying to estimate charges for our customers.

People nowadays are very busy, and moving time in particular adds a set of circumstances that reduces free time even further. So it is not unusual for me to get a phone call that sounds something like, "I need a couch, dresser, and king size bed moved from X to much is that going to cost." What can be challenging for those of us in the moving business is that there are countless questions that need to be asked and answered before I have any hope of giving you an even remotely realistic estimate. And people on the other end of the phone usually do not want to spend 15 minutes going over details. They want to hear a number and figure out whether you seem halfway intelligent and trustworthy before calling the next company. I get it.

What is challenging for us is that any number of factors can affect the time and therefore cost of the job, and the vast majority of these factors are completely out of our control.

I just returned home from a job and I will use that job as an example to explain some of the factors that can happen that can affect a move. Our customer lived on a two lane street in Beacon Hill in Boston with only resident parking on the one lane of available parking. This did not allow us to park close to the residence to unload equipment for the job. We had to park two trucks in resident spots and risk two $90 parking tickets. When we arrived to the building it was under construction and there was construction supplies and debris in front of the door we were moving out of and on the stairwell we would be using to get to the new apartment which needed to be moved. The apartment was very small, and the customer had over-sized items they wanted moved up a tight stairwell to their new apartment. We had to take four doors off their hinges (and eventually put back those doors back on) to allow furniture to get through doorways. The dressers and armoires had clothing in them so we spent some time removing the clothes and bringing them upstairs so that the furniture pieces were as light as possible to help navigate the tough angles of the stairwells. Both my coworker and I had to move our cars once each so that residents could park in their assigned spaces. We had to completely disassemble an Ikea bed to allow it to make it up the stairwell. We also had to disassemble an over-sized dresser to allow it to make it through doors and through the stairwell. When our booked job was completed the customer asked us to do a few more things. And then we had to replace all the contractors tools and equipment back to where it originally was.

Both my coworker and I were thrilled to have the work and have work added on, as that means more money in our pockets!!!! But all of those challenges add time and cost to the bill. The customer was thrilled with the job we did as many of her pieces were big, heavy and challenging to get where they needed to go and we did so as efficiently as possible. But in this industry in particular, oftentimes many of the things we run into we don't actually know about until we arrive at your house on moving day. Whenever I give an estimate I try to ask as many questions as possible to be both realistic and forthcoming with potential customers.

We have a job booked to internally move a sleeper sofa and approximately four other items in a house in Winchester next week, and then we will disassemble a treadmill and drive it to the town of Orleans down on Cape Cod next week. While talking to the customer, and working through the numbers with her, I mentioned to her how much a 15 minute swing could affect the job time going down to the Cape. If we leave 15 minutes later than we plan on, you could be looking at an additional 45 minutes to get through traffic on Route 93 during rush hour. If somebody gets in an accident down by Bourne that could set us back another hour. All of these things are impossible to know ahead of time, but can add time and therefore money onto the bill.

Most of us in the moving industry want to work as hard as possible to make our customers happy. Most of us are not trying to take advantage of anyone. We need to work together with our customers to ascertain as much information as possible so there are no surprises on moving day. That is something that requires patience on both sides.

Trust me when I say that I don't want you to spend any more money than you need to. Ultimately I do not make my money off you TODAY. I do my absolute best in every facet of your move today to ensure that I make my money off your recommendations to your friends and family that we took care of you and they should call us for their moves.


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