Trust me, if anyone is in a position to share advice on starting a removals business and successfully building it from the ground up, it’ll be another moving company. Particularly one with well over a decade in the business.
Knowing everything there is to know about the removals industry, we’ve accumulated years of moving experience but like you, there was once a time we were also starting from where you are now. At the very, very beginning.
If you’re serious about getting into the removals business then this guide truly is the only guide you’ll need to get you moving. It’ll show you how to get started, how to build your brand and of course, how to get customers – from day 1. As in like – immediately.
The article you’re about to read is a 9025 word blueprint to starting your own successful removals company, just like we did. Read through the article and if you have any questions at the end, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
All the best, and good luck.
- Cost Of Starting A Removals Business
- Registering With HMRC
- Choosing A Company Name
- Marketing Your New Business
- Tools Required For Removals
- Insurance Cover For Removals Firms
- Setting A Budget
- Removals Services You Can Offer
- Finding Your First Customers
- Accepting Payment For Moving Services
- Researching Your Local Competition
- Building A Business Brand
- Joining A Business Organisation
- Networking With Other Companies
- Pros & Cons Of A Removals Business
- Your Responsibilities As A Business Owner
The Initial Cost Of Starting A Removals Business
Something that is often overlooked and rarely covered in articles like these is the initial outlay of setting up a new moving company. Here is a relatively accurate idea of how much it’ll cost you to start a new business in the removals industry.
Buying A Removals Van
When setting up a new removals firm, you’re first and most expensive outlay will be your van.
You have 2 choices here.
- If you have the budget, you can buy a second hand Luton Box van outright
- If you’re a little less willing to throw a large sum of money at a new venture, there’s hire purchase.
Buying A Van Outright
If you’re looking to buy your vehicle outright, a 10 year old Luton Box van with around 100K miles and full service history will set you back between £6,000 & £7,000. A van this age and condition should easily be good for another 100k miles or 7/8 happy years of service if well maintained.
You can find cheaper, but you really need a van that runs and will keep running until you’re in a financial position to replace it.
Buying A Van On Hire Purchase
We actually recommend using hire purchase to start you new removals business. The outlay consists of a deposit and normally the first months instalment.
The deposit on an £8,000 van could be as low as £1,500 and monthly repayments can range from £200-£400 per month depending on the length of your hire purchase agreement.
For hire purchase we recommend Close Brothers Motor Finance who we’ve used in the past.
Setting Up Insurance For Your Removals Business
You’ll have 3 different types of insurance to consider, only one of which is legally required by law.
We go into details on insurance for a removals business later on in this article. Here, we’re only looking at cost.
Van Insurance For Hire & Reward
Insurance For Hire & Reward is vehicle insurance as required by law and is the only insurance legally required to get you started as a moving company.
Depending on your driving experience and previous accident history, you can expect to pay an average of £900 for hire and reward insurance on a Luton Box Van.
Experienced drivers with a decent NCB (no claims bonus) will pay around £600 per year where an inexperienced driver with little NCB or recent accidents can expect to pay as much as £1200.
You can of course spread the cost over the year in monthly instalments. Instalments can range from £60-£120 per month.
We wrote a great review article on the UK’s top 5 van insurers. We based the article on a man and van service but the policy requirements for a removals company are identical and we tested them for cost, customer service and level of cover. Feel free to check that article out here: Insurance for hire & reward services.
Public Liability Insurance For A Removals Company
Public Liability Insurance for a typical removals firm should be around £249 per year and should cover you to the value of at least £4,000,000.
You can shop around as there’s deals to be had. Monthly instalments should range from £20-£25.
Goods In Transit Insurance For A Removals Business
For quality Goods In Transit insurance you can expect to pay between £200-£260 per year which a lot of the time, includes public liability insurance as part of the policy.
Average monthly instalments should range from £20-£25 depending on who you insure with and any available deals to be had.
A moving company needs tools to operate. Working equipment includes things like removals blankets, PPE, first aid, nylon lashing straps, tools such as spanners, socket sets, electric screwdriver, handheld screwdrivers and allen or hex keys and other essential items when starting a removals business.
You should spend, or at least keep £500 readily available for working equipment.
Working Costs And Unforeseens
Working costs are for things like costs for vehicle repairs, vehicle maintenance and unforeseen things that can and do happen when you least expect them.
For working costs, you should make sure you have at least £1500 readily available in case you suddenly need it.
Total Initial Cost Of Starting A Removals Company
If Paying Outright For Your Company Van
With Insurance In A Single Instalment
With Insurance In Monthly Instalments
*Includes recurring monthly instalments for vehicle insurance for hire & reward, public liability insurance and good in transit insurance.
If Using Hire Purchase For Your Company Van
With Insurance In A Single Instalment
With Insurance In Monthly Instalments
*Includes recurring monthly instalments for vehicle insurance for hire & reward, public liability insurance, good in transit insurance and monthly hire purchase repayments.
Register Your Removals Business With HMRC
This is a given. Starting a removals business means you’ll need to register as self employed with HMRC.
Luckily they’ve made it easy. Hit this link to walk through the process, which only takes about 10 minutes and you’ll be good to go.
Decide On A Name For Your Removals Company
You’re starting a removals business so your new company name should reflect what you do. It should also be unique, creative, memorable and brandable.
Whatever name you choose for your new moving company, it should certainly contain the word “removals” or a synonym of. It not only let’s people know exactly what you’re offering, but people are more likely to remember it and having a keyword in your company name will also give you an edge on Google.
Examples Of Good Company Names For A Removals Firm.
Here are a few examples. You should always do a quick Google search for any brandable names you think of to see if they’re already taken.
- North Star Removals
- Rhino Removals
- White Knight Removals
If you really want to niche down on providing a local service you could use a highly brandable company name such as…
- Manchester City Removals
- London Express Removals
- Edinburgh Direct Removals
When people are searching for a local moving company they tend to search Google for “removals in (area)”. By having both your service type and your locality included in your company name, you’ll be in a much stronger position in the Google search results.
Marketing Your New Removals Business
Starting A Business Website
Your website will be your primary source of new customers and 90% of your customers will have found you on Google while searching for a “removals service in (area)”.
Your website is also your shop front that never closes. When starting a removals business you need an attractive website that’s fast, reliable, sleek and able to quickly convert enquiries into cash.
Where To Get A Removals Website
You have a number of options here.
Get A Web Designer
This is fairly expensive but at least you’re in complete control of what you want and how you want it. All you have to do is relay your requirements to the design team and they’ll deliver a stunning website that should do well on Google with a little work on your part.
If you do hire a designer to build a website for your new removals business, make utterly sure, by physically asking, that they build your site with PHP & CSS and not with a cheap WordPress template or similar. You could do that yourself for free if you already have hosting.
You want a lightning fast website without the bloat.
Use A Website Builder
Website builders are slow & clunky though so you’re unlikely to rank as well on Google and if you don’t rank high on king of the search engines, your customers will never find you. It’s really that simple.
We don’t recommend website builders for business start ups.
Building A Business Website With WordPress
WordPress is a solid platform on which you can build an extremely functional business website for your removal company. It does take some technical know how though to get it working properly.
A WordPress website for your new removal business requires.
- Buying stand alone website hosting
- Buying a domain name
- Uploading WordPress via FTP
- Setting up a MySQL Database
- Building navigation menus
- Styling your layout
- Adding content to your pages
Luckily, YouTube is bursting at the brim with tutorials on all of the above which, although may sound beyond technical, once you learn how it’s done you’ll realise how easy it actually is.
The downside to this is the learning curve. A novice can get online with WordPress easily enough, but to get the most out of it you’ll need to understand what caching plugins are and how to use them, how to defer JS and CSS scripts, how to create child themes and a whole host of other semi-advanced user functions.
Although WordPress for new business websites is solid, reliable and highly customisable, unless you have months to learn the platform inside and out to get the most out of it, we don’t really recommend it.
A Lightning Fast Website Template, On Us
That’s right, we built an extremely fast website template free for download for anyone looking to start a business. Consider it our gift to you to help you on your journey.
It does have a slight learning curve though, but we’ve also uploaded a full tutorial to YouTube showing you how to edit it quickly and easily with Windows Notepad and get yourself online.
We modelled the tutorial on a man and van website for illustrative purposes but you can edit the template to suit any business type.
You can view the tutorial here: Free Business Start Up Website Template
If you’re serious about starting a local business of any kind, your website is where most your income will come from so you should be comfortable with the idea of taking a weekend to make sure it’s perfect.
The template itself can be used for any business type – removals, plumbers, joiners, it doesn’t matter. The content of the template is entirely up to you.
Choosing A Domain Name For Your New Business
Quite simply, your domain name should closely match your company name. This helps build your brand and, if your company name is already keyword rich, then your domain name will be too.
Get creative, create a shortlist of your favourite ideas and ask friends and family for their input before deciding.
How To Write Content For A New Removals Website
To decide how to present your website to potential customers, you should have a look at your local competitors and see how they’re presenting themselves.
In particular, have a look at their service pages. Quite simply, the idea is just to take whatever they’re doing on their own websites but do it a little better.
You’ll most likely notice too that local service pages are kept relatively short and sweet. There’s no real need to write a book on why a customer should trust your company over others, simply take what’s working for them and adopt the concept.
Trust is built with reviews, an active Facebook page to show you’re still around and operating and a showcase of previous work you’ve done.
Although your service pages (removals, packing services, storage etc) are expected to be fairly minimal and to the point, your “about us” & “contact us” pages should be filled out comprehensively to show transparency and to sell yourself as a solid, reliable moving company.
Again, just take a quick peek at your local competition and you’ll know what customers are expecting to see when visiting your website.
Your Removals Business Needs A Facebook Page
Social media is king when it comes to building a community of previous customers who will either use you again, or be happy to recommend you to others.
An accessible list of previous customers is like gold dust and nothing helps you stay connected to these people better than Facebook can.
Getting Connected For Likes & Reviews
Each time you complete a job for a customer, ask them if they have Facebook. Since most people do, you would then ask them if they’re happy for you to invite them to like your Facebook page.
From your Facebook business page, you can send them an invite. It’s better to do this while you’re still with the customer as they might forget later on.
Facebook also has a review feature so once a customer has liked your page you can then send them a request to review your service a few days later.
Once you have people paying attention, you can post things like polls, competitions, local events and other media that encourages interaction from them or sparks their interest.
Your goal here is to get people who have liked your page and have previously used your services to feel like they’ve gotten to know you.
You’re Not Just Selling Removals Services, You’re Also Selling Yourself
If people feel like they know you on a personal level, they’re more likely to remember you, use your company again in the future and recommend you to others.
Even though most small companies don’t spend time on this marketing strategy (major fail), the value of building and maintaining a solid relationship with previous customers can be the difference between competing with your local competition and crushing your local competition.
Upload Photos Of Your Work
They say a picture paints a thousands words and frankly, when it comes to selling yourself as a new business online, they’re not far wrong.
It only takes a few seconds to snap a couple of pics while you’re on a job and it let’s you build a showcase of your work.
Snaps don’t all need to be of the job either. People who are connected to your Facebook page enjoy variety and starting a removals company means you’ll be travelling, a lot.
Upload pictures of funny, weird or unusual things you encounter along the way. These reach people on a personal note, encourages interaction and helps to develop a relationship beyond that of a “me company, you customer” frame of thinking.
Always GeoTag Images Of Your Work
Most modern smartphones have a geotag option which attaches some meta information to your image. This tells search engines and other services exactly where the photo was taken and is used to boost relevancy for local businesses in search engine results.
To activate the geotagging option on your mobile device, follow either of these links.
If your phone doesn’t have a geotag option, you can use an online geotagging service such as https://tool.geoimgr.com.
At Least Once A Week, Post Updates On Social Media
A busy Facebook page shows you’re active and operating as a serious business. There’s more to starting a new removals business than just moving stuff.
You should post updates about yourself, your company, your recommendations and your experiences while out and about at least once or twice a week.
You’re building relationships with people who you want to turn into returning customers at some point so let them get to know you. Don’t over do it with the updates though or people might get fed up hearing from you.
Your business website will bring new customers, your Facebook business page will keep old customers coming back.
Set up a business page on Facebook here.
Listing Your Removals Business In Online Directories
It’s true, website traffic and customer enquiries from listings in local directories are next to non-existent but starting a removals business, or any other type of business for that matter means you’ll have to pander to them anyway.
Google takes local citations from these online directories seriously and uses them as one factor among many in determining where you will rank on it’s search engine.
Below is a list of safe directories to list your removals business in. Take the time to fill each of them out comprehensively and pay particular attention to making sure your name, address, phone number and website details are identical in each.
This is called NAPW consistency and Google has a boner for it, so make sure to get it right. You’re business contact details must match across the web.
By far, the most important place to register your new moving company is on Google My Business. Use this to get verified by Google and begin appearing in the local business search results.
The others are…
Be wary of listing your business in just any directory you find online. Some are spammy, less than reputable, Google hates them and being listed there might hurt you in the search engines.
Tools You’ll Need To Start A Removals Business
A Large Capacity Van Capable Of Undertaking House Removals
This can’t be any less than a 3.5t Luton sized box van for starting a removals business. Smaller panel vans are more suited to man and van start ups where the majority of work is moving and shifting single items and undertaking small removals.
A serious moving firm should be able to handle a moderately size move from the offset without payload space becoming an issue.
*At the end of this article we’ll show you how to handle larger removals with only a single van by networking with other local companies. Make sure you read to the end for that top tip.
PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
You should always use PPE suited to your work. In the removals industry, this is certainly gripper gloves & comfortable protective footwear.
Gripper gloves, like these ones, are available from any good hardware store such as the B&Q. As the name suggests, they’re perfect for helping you manually lift heavier objects while lessening the risk of slippage.
They will also prevent cuts and skin complaints when repetitively lifting and loading smaller items such as boxes and bags. At only £1.50 per pair, they last weeks and are well worth the investment.
Starting a removals business means you’ll be constantly lifting and loading washing machines, fridge freezers, metal filing cabinets and a whole plethora of other large items. These can hurt if dropped, so wearing good quality protective footwear, like these ones, is just good sense.
High Visibility Vests
These are just good sense too. You’ll be working at the side of the road in winter when it’s generally dark and visibility is poor.
Wearing high visibility vests lessen the risk of a passing motorist not seeing you while you’re loading or unloading goods into or out of a van and your attention to road safety isn’t as heightened as it should be.
Spending so much of your working time at the side of a road, always wear a high visibility vest at night. It’ll save your life.
These protective blankets will protect any load you’re carrying against scratches, scrapes, dents and general marking during the course of a home or business removal.
They’re cheap and cheerful and you really don’t want to undertake a move without them.
They’re available on Amazon here.
Nylon Lashing Straps
These things are amazing for home & business removals. They can hold 100+ Kg each and when a large, heavy item is nailed down with one of these, that puppy is going nowhere.
They’re only a few quid, usually come in sets of 2 and will bring you the peace of mind of knowing that your payload is completely secure when moving a customer from one premises to another.
You’ll be asked to dismantle and reassemble beds, wardrobes, flat pack furniture and other items that require disassembly to some extent so you should keep some common, but handy, handheld tools in your van.
- Socket sets
- Electric screwdriver
- Handheld screwdrivers
- Allen or hex keys
Of course, there will be moments when you need a tool you don’t have to hand. The best thing to do is buy one then and there if you’re able or struggle through and make acquiring one next on your list of things to do.
Heavy Duty Sack Barrow (Trolley Dolly)
You’ll need to be prepared to lift heavy items, often, if you’re starting a removals business and you can do this in one of two ways.
You Can Handball Everything
When we first started in the removals game we were young, dumb, unbreakable and thought sack barrows were for women.
We lifted & carried everything from washing machines to upright pianos but as strong as you may be, lifting and carrying heavy items often will, without a shadow of a doubt wear you down.
Not only that, but over time, can truly break you in ways you don’t even know.
You Can Use A Good Quality Sack Trolley
Luckily, common sense kicked in early on and although we’re still as physically fit today, probably even more so, I couldn’t imagine being without a good quality sack trolley on any job. If there is a tool that’ll do all the hard work, it means you don’t have to.
You’ll do well to realise you’re only human, you’re not unbreakable and if you throw your back or have an accident trying to lift something beyond your comfort zone, you’re also out of business.
Safety first, always. You’ll thank yourself for it at the end of every working day.
A Well Stocked First Aid Box
Like it says on the tin. Starting a busy removals company means bangs, bruises and scrapes just by the sheer nature of the work so a well stocked first aid kit is an essential part of your working gear.
Everyone knows what a first aid kit is and what it’s for so I won’t string it out.
Good quality first aid kits are available from Boots.
Van Insurance For A Moving Company
Insurance For Hire & Reward
This is vehicle insurance as required by law and is the only insurance legally required to get you started as a moving company.
Shop around as there is deals to be had however. We did write a great review on the top 5 van insurers to see who fared best and behold, the clear winner was Budget Van Insurance for price, customer care and level of cover.
We also wrote a review article on these guys which you can find here: Budget Van Insurance Review
Public Liability Insurance
There are four factors which determine how much you can expect to pay for public liability insurance when starting a removals business. Or any business for that matter.
- Your profession or trade
- If customers can enter your premises
- If you work in public places
- Your turnover
Running a removals company means working in other peoples homes and premises so it’s unlikely you’ll require premises of your own.
Your profession is very labour intensive too and you will be working in places where there are likely to be members of the public.
Your turnover is what you make of it. It can be little or it can be lots but all things considered, public liability insurance for a typical removals firm should be around £249 per year and should cover you to the value of at least £4,000,000.
You can shop around as there’s deals to be had.
Goods In Transit Insurance
Goods In Transit Insurance is another insurance that although not legally required to operate a removals company, gives your customer the peace of mind that in the event of a theft, loss or damage, their property is covered usually up the the value of £10,000 while being transported in the back of your vehicle.
As mentioned earlier, Goods In Transit insurance you will cost between £200-£260 per year which a lot of the time, includes public liability insurance as part of the policy.
Setting A Business Budget
This is entirely up to you. Like most companies, we started on a shoestring and basically braved it. Starting a removals business doesn’t require a lot of capital, as long as you have some emergency funds available for unforeseen events, you should be OK with operating with a minimal budget.
The important things are keeping yourself legal, keeping your van running in good shape and offering your customers a top notch service. Everything else is secondary.
Types Of Removals Services You Can Offer
Domestic & Home Removals
This will most likely be your main source of income. People tend to move more than businesses do so pander to the public more than anyone else.
You’ll probably be supplementing your income with single items and collecting second hand buys for people so private and residential customers, if they like you, tend use your services time and time again.
Don’t forget to invite them to like your Facebook page.
Business and commercial removals are great if you’re happy with invoice work. We personally decline invoice work but that’s not to say working for companies and businesses is an all round bad idea.
You’ll have to be prepared to work outside of normal working hours and be willing to travel. If you’ve been asked to undertake a removal for a company because the company is closing or has gone bust, only accept cash for the work. Preferably before you start.
Packing & Unpacking Services
This isn’t a service we offer but it’s part and parcel of the removals industry. When starting a removals business you should decide whether or not this is a service you want to provide.
It’s mostly upper class households who request a packing service before they move and it’s usually more time consuming than the removal itself.
That said, you can charge top dollar for this service and have 4 lads on the job.
Note, make sure they’re lads you know and trust completely for obvious reasons. Bad reviews can ruin a company so, just make sure.
Offering storage facilities to your customers is an excellent opportunity to add to your turnover. Here again you have a couple of options.
Shipping Containers For Storage
If you have the budget, you can buy 20ft shipping containers in good condition for around £500 per container which you can then rent to customers for £30 per week. It really is as simple as that.
You will need at least 5 shipping containers and keep them occupied to make it viable though and you’ll also have to rent some suitable land. Bare land is cheap as chips to rent, finding it though can be a bit of a challenge.
Our advice would be to simply operate as a removals firm and look at getting into storage services later when you’re well established as a company and more likely to be in a stronger position financially.
Warehouse Premises For Storage
Cheap warehouse premises in an industrial estate is ideal for offering storage facilities. You don’t require shipping containers as most companies who operate from a warehouse use wooden crates to store customers belongings.
Warehouse storage has the upside of giving you a premises from where you can also work but it’s a more expensive service to operate and maintain as opposed to steel shipping containers in cheaply rented land.
Again, unless you have the budget to go for it you’re most likely better off operating as a removals company until you’re in a good position to add more services later.
Finding Your First Customers For Your New Removals Company
Everyone loves the idea of starting their own business. Turning that business into cold hard cash though is quite another thing.
Cash comes with customers and finding your first movers in the removals industry luckily isn’t hard. Especially if you have a good idea of where to start.
Your website will be your primary source of revenue, eventually. Unfortunately Google drags it’s heel in figuring out what your website is about and where you should rank in their search results.
This of course is all dependent on how active you’re seen to be in the eyes of the search giants. Interaction you have online with customers and your Facebook followers, as well as how often you acquire and respond to reviews all have a direct impact on your websites overall authority.
Customers will certainly trickle in from your website in the early days but it’ll be at least 6 to 8 months before you begin to see some serious organic growth.
The good news is that unless you do something underhanded to get your website penalised in some way by Google, then that growth is consistent from then on.
Movers In Private Housing Estates
When starting a new business, the first thing most people do is get business cards made up.
These are great for taking a stroll through any large private housing estate where almost every street has at least 3 or 4 “for sale” or “sold” signs in the garden.
Simply pop a card through the door of any houses you see for sale in the area. These people are moving home soon and the more cards you post, the more likely your phone is to ring.
They say first impressions count and that stands true here too. Make sure your business cards are of absolutely top notch quality with an attractive, professional design or you can probably just save yourself the bother.
Network With Letting Agents
Letting agents are in the property business – so are you, so when starting a removals business these people can quickly become your best friends.
Call or visit your local letting agent and try to strike a deal where you are their recommended moving firm. They’ll be in a position to pass your contact details on to their new tenants as well as including your business card within the paperwork they give to the tenant at the start of their tenancy.
Letting agents are in business too so this might have to include some type of monetary incentive for each recommendation that results in work.
To find letting agents near you, simply Google “Letting Agents Near Me“.
Removals Enquiries From Care Homes
People are moving in and out of care homes constantly so this is one income stream you should focus on.
You can either email all the care homes in an area you’re able to cover, give them a call or post business cards out to them but really, the most effective way to getting to care homes is to visit them, introduce yourself to the manager and leave a card.
Mentioning you offer great deals for care home residents goes a long way too so make sure you sell yourself well. This is a line of work that doesn’t dry up.
To find care homes near you, simply Google “Care Homes Near Me“.
Give your local council a call and ask how to get on their “preferred list of approved tradesmen“. Every council has one although the terminology might be different.
It may be called a “list of approved contractors” or “Good Trader Scheme” but it’s still effectively a “preferred list of approved tradesmen”.
Getting on this list means you’ll receive work from local government and in the removals business that means government offices, schools, housing services and any other type of service or property that the council operates.
Definitely try to form close ties with at least one person who manages the list and is tasked with allocating jobs. You want to be first choice every time the local council needs something shifted.
Google Adwords (Instant Customers)
All of the above are revenue generators but all take time, work and patience. Starting a new business though, wouldn’t it be lovely if you could begin getting enquiries from day 1?
Luckily Google let’s you hit the ground running with Google Adwords.
These are PPC (pay per click) ads so they’re not free. They can however get you a spot at the top of Googles front page within an hour though which in turn, gets you into business from the get-go.
Before you can use Google Adwords you’ll need a Google account (free). To open a Google account follow this link.
Once you’ve opened a Google account, you can begin using adwords. To use adwords, follow this link.
*You can overspend with adwords. When starting a removals business, we recommend YouTube for some decent adwords tutorials to show you how to get the most out of this service with minimal spend.
Follow this link: Adwords On Youtube
How Do You Get Paid Offering Removals Services?
Here too you have a couple of options…
You can offer invoice work and take your chances. We don’t.
Unless work is for an organisation such as a local council, NHS or a government body where payment due will absolutely be honoured, we generally decline invoice requests.
Once you’ve undertook a heavy removal on a customers behalf some customers tend to drag their heels on payment and others just don’t pay at all.
Your starting a removals business so it’s your company, your call. If you’re comfortable with the risk, then it’s an option to consider.
Cash Or Bank Transfer
Payment by cash or bank transfer at the end of each job is pretty much the industry standard for small independent companies when undertaking removals work.
As most of your work will be for the private sector, cash or bank transfer is the most convenient option between the customer and yourself.
This payment method is ideal as your costs are covered at the end of the working day, your cash flow is accounted for and up to date and there’s no time wasted later on trying to chase up overdue invoices.
This is another payment method we’re not keen on. Cheques can bounce or be cancelled and then there’s the added inconvenience of having to physically take it to a bank.
Running a company means you’ll be busy. Even when you’re not out on the road there’s always other things that’ll need your attention. A cheque might sit on a shelf for three weeks before you even get an opportunity to pass a bank.
Luckily, very few people offer to pay by cheque anymore so we don’t have to decline them very often.
You of course are free to take or leave cheques as you wish as a payment method. If you’re comfortable accepting cheques then again, it’s an option.
Either way, whatever payment method you prefer, make sure you let the customer know before they even book their home or business removal with you so they know what to expect on moving day.
Research Your Local Competitors
Check their websites, give them a call as if you were a customer who’s moving and gather as many quotes as you can. Knowing your competition is vital if you want to compete in their space.
Mainly, you’ll want to know how much they’re charging for their services. This can be for single items going from A to B or for complete removals, get their figures to work out how much you should charge.
You’ll also want to get a feel for their mannerism on the phone and how you would react to it if you were a genuine customer. You don’t have to undercut your competition if they’re a grumpy bunch, people will actually book with you just because you sound happy that they’ve called.
You can also look for other little subtleties to exploit, particularly on their website. If it’s a dull design, you have a better one. If they only have a phone number for customers to call, you have a phone number and an email form as well as an option to message you via Facebook Messenger.
It’s the simple little things that’ll convince a customer to use your company as opposed to another so when starting a removals business, always do your research. It’s the greatest single thing you can do to get off to a strong start.
Building Your Business Brand & Reputation
Let’s face it, everything is done online these days so it’s vitally important to not only have a web presence but to build an actual brand for your new business.
And with a brand comes reputation. Your reviews across the web, how people interact with you online, if they share your content or like your posts on your Facebook page.
These are all things Google sees and takes into account when figuring out how to rank you on it’s search engine.
Dealing With Customers
It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’re having, you have to be on top of the world when dealing with a customer either on the phone or in person.
The old days when people found you in the phone book are gone. Nobody could leave bad feedback in a Yellow Pages and if you lost a customer due to bad chemistry, it didn’t matter because it wasn’t a time of online reviews for all to see.
Now, you’re starting a removals business in the digital age and you’ll be dealing with stressed out customers day in day out.
One simple trick I learned early on was just to speak to each enquiry like I was genuinely glad to hear from them. It immediately puts people at ease and instils a sense of confidence from the get-go that they’re speaking to someone who genuinely cares about their move.
Not everyone likes dealing with other people on a professional note either, some of whom might be quite grumpy, so you might feel a bit awkward posing as Mr Happy 24/7 to people who seem to hate the world just because it’s Tuesday.
If you stick at it though it quickly becomes you natural mannerism and it seals deals.
When starting a new business, whether it be a removals firm or any other, reviews are critical – there’s no getting round it. There’s also debate on whether or not online reviews help you in gaining a higher search engine position.
That debate will continue to rage on between both schools of thought but one thing is certainly for sure, good reviews are a determining factor on whether or not a searcher is likely to use, or not use your services.
Reviews On Google My Business
Of all the review sites you could be listed in, Google My Business is by far the most important. Not only because it’s owned and operated by Google themselves but your Google My Business account is where you can also be listed in the local map pack.
You can also upload and showcase your work with geotagged images and post updates and events that Google sees and takes into account when ranking your company in the local group.
To open a Google My Business account, follow this link.
Reviews On Facebook
More people use Facebook than any other social media network so it’s no wonder why they introduced Facebook For Business.
Like GMB, Facebook let’s you upload and showcase your work and gives you the opportunity to invite and connect with your customers in ways no other platform can.
When starting a removals business, any reviews help but good reviews on this site go a long way in developing a strong trust factor and have a persuasive effect among the sites users.
Facebook also gives you the ability to interact with these users on a personal level in a way you simply can’t with a website.
To open a Facebook For Business page, follow this link.
*Don’t forget to fill out the “About Us” section comprehensively. While not technically a directory listing, you do have the option to add in depth information to your page to help build your online brand across the wider Internet.
Reviews On TrustPilot
Everyone’s heard of TrustPilot, it’s one of the biggest review sites online today. As such, when getting started in a new business you should certainly take the opportunity to have a company review page there.
It helps with online branding, trust flow and shows potential customers you’re confident enough in your services that you welcome reviews and feedback, good or bad.
To open a TrustPilot page for your business, follow this link.
Google loves to see activity so maintain an active online presence by always responding to reviews quickly. You should also link to your review pages from your website and have them link back to you.
*Never leave yourself fake reviews. Google can see everything, including your IP address and can switch you off for it. Smart cookies those guys at Google.
Join An Organisation
BAR (British Association Of Removers)
Being endorsed by BAR (British Association of Removers) will help build an online brand quicker and with more authority in the eyes of the search engines.
It is an expensive citation to have but not so expensive that it won’t pay for itself time and time again in terms of extra work and enquiries that can come from the likelihood of a higher search engine position. All other things being equal, that could give you the opportunity to nudge out competitor websites.
The truth is though, nobody outside of the removals industry really knows or cares who BAR is. We’ve been operating for over a decade and nobody has ever asked us if we’re a BAR member so really, joining the scheme would certainly be more for online prestige than anything else.
To have a citation and endorsement from the BAR website is something to consider though and definitely an option if you have the budget.
Consider applying to becoming a BAR member, follow this link.
Chamber Of Commerce
Much like BAR, joining the Chamber Of Commerce is more a badge of prestige than anything else. Recognised I’m sure by the search giants you should see value in it in terms of online authority and brand recognition.
Other benefits of joining the Chamber Of Commerce range from being able to network with other members to making contacts within the your industry. In all likelihood though these are perks you probably don’t need or will ever use as a small independent start up company.
Consider joining The Chamber Of Commerce, follow this link.
FSB – Federation Of Small Businesses
There are a few attractive benefits to joining this business organisation such as legal and HR advice and protection in case of tax inspection.
Again, this too is another badge of prestige which we might consider worth the cost of membership just for the citation.
Consider joining the FSB (Federation Of Small Businesses), follow this link.
Build Relationships With Other Removals Firms
Starting a removals business probably means initially, you have one van and a trusted van mate or two. To take on bigger, more lucrative removals, you’ll need to get to know your local competition.
Your local competition shouldn’t be hostile towards you. They’re there to network with and should be willing to occasionally join forces in order to take on more work, more often.
Just like you, they’ll be small, independent local firms unable to take on these larger jobs alone, so getting to know them in order to work with them suits all parties.
Top 3 Pros & Cons Of Starting A Removals Business
a) You’re Your Own Boss
First and foremost you work for yourself so it’s pretty impossible to get the sack. You can enjoy as much holiday time as you like, if you can afford it, and you get to choose your own workmates.
Being the boss of your own company definitely has it’s perks.
b) You’re Never Stuck In An Office
Running a removals company means 95% of the time you’re out in the fresh air, you’re meeting new, interesting people and you’re travelling to different places constantly. You’re NEVER stuck in an office and even though all jobs are similar, no two are the same.
It’s a great line of work to be in for people who love to move around, particularly in the summer.
c) High Earning Potential
The money you can make from starting a removals business is phenomenal. Your only real costs on the day are fuel, wages and lunch. The rest is company money.
How much money you can make on a home or business removal is dependent on you and how much you quote a customer. Typically, the contents of a single 2 bedroom flat moving within the same area could net you £350. After wages & fuel you could pocket £250 for a job that might take 4-5 hours.
a) Employing Reliable Team Members
Unlike other types of van based businesses that can easily be operated by a single driver such as a man and van service or a junk clearance service, a moving service requires a minimum of 2 people to carry out a home or business removal.
This leaves you at the mercy of unreliable staff who not only don’t show up for work, but give you no prior warning so you might at least have time to arrange another team member for the day.
In the removals business, when people are moving they’re moving on that day. Their property is packed up & ready to go, keys will be changing hands and things are in motion.
The last thing a customer needs to hear at the last minute is that you can’t undertake their removal because your staff has gone AWOL.
Online reviews like that can really do a number on a fledgling removals business. ALWAYS make sure your staff are reliable & trustworthy and always have a list of substitutes available, just in case.
b) Vehicles Can Break Down
A successful home or office removal relies on you getting property from one premises to another so making sure your van is in ship shape and able to carry out the work is essential.
That said, vans do break from time to time.
If You’re On Route To The Job
If you’re on route to your job and you haven’t actually loaded anything yet, and don’t own a second van to send in place of the first, you’re pretty much going to lose that job.
The courteous thing to do is to call the customer immediately and let them know what’s happened and then do whatever you can to help the customer find another moving company able to take the job.
You should already be networking with other local companies anyway so finding one able to save the day shouldn’t be difficult.
Your reputation is everything so you don’t want to beat about the bush here either. Make sure you take care of your customers needs first and then organise recovery of your vehicle.
If You’re Already On The Job
If you’re half way through a job and your van decides it’s having no more, and you don’t own a second van, then you’re pretty limited in options.
- Call the AA for recovery of your vehicle. You can then call the customer and let them know that you’ll have to arrange alternative delivery of their goods. They’ll be unhappy but you’re hands are really tied here, you’ll just have to reassure them that you’re on the case.
- Depending on the urgency of the job, you may have option of having the van recovered and repaired and then delivering the goods later.
- If not, then call another removals company, or even a man and van company to take the load. You’ll most certainly have to strike a deal where you’ll be a part of the new team to lessen the workload and also you’ll be handing them a portion of your earnings.
- Apologise unreservedly to the customer. Mishaps do happen and the customer, if they’re human, should understand this.
A solution to ALL of the above is to have a second van with a similar load capacity. Even if it’s a cheap but reliable old horse, any van is better than no van and it’ll pay for itself time and time again.
Also, if you don’t have AA recovery, you should have. Get it here: AA Breakdown Recovery
c) It’s A Labour Intensive High Risk Business
Constantly lifting and shifting heavy items up stairs, through gardens and over fences will, without question, wear you down. On top of that, long term – it’ll begin to wear you down physically too if you don’t give yourself regular extended periods of rest and recovery.
Exhaustion, trip hazards, stairs and narrow hallways aren’t a good combination either so you do have to keep your wits about you at all times. If you take a trip while holding a washing machine, fridge freezer, sofa or any other heavy item you can really do some long term, or even permanent damage to yourself.
When people move, the contents of their home is generally left lying everywhere before you arrive so as you begin a removal you can be sure there’s a trip hazard every few steps.
Trips, slips, bangs and bruises are all too common in removals work so you will have to stay completely focused on what you’re doing.
The removals industry is not a job for the faint hearted. You must be physically fit and able to undertake this type of work before committing to starting a removals business.
It can be hugely rewarding and the benefits of being self employed far outweigh the disadvantages, but the work is hard and can at times be exceptionally stressful. Particularly around unruly children or pets.
In any case, we wholly recommend personal injury insurance.
Running A Removals Business, You’re Responsible For EVERYTHING
Starting a removals business, or of course any other business means you’re responsible for everything – the buck stops with you.
Running the company, dealing with finances, making decisions on the spot when things go wrong, dealing with customers and making sure staff are turning up on time and doing their job.
Thought that was it? Nope! There’s dealing with breakdowns, keeping your online activity top notch, looking for contracts and having contingency plans in place to deal with every possible scenario as well as a million other things left for you to do as part of running your company.
And When Things Go Wrong?
The removals industry is particularly stressful when things go wrong too.
If you own a shop and the lights go out then you just lock the door and come back later. If you’re a mechanic and you require a tool you don’t own, you simply go and get one and come back to finish your repair.
The removals industry though, people are moving everything they own in one day, often in a single morning. If they’re selling their property then they must be out of that property as soon as keys change hands.
If you’re booked to handle a home removal then everything boils down to you on the day. You’re expected to offer a seamless service from beginning to end and you assume total responsibility when things don’t pan out as planned.
That said, if you can deal with a little pressure now and again and just a smidgen of occasional stress, then you get to enjoy all the perks of being your own boss with your own removals business. And what a business it truly is.
Your Blueprint To Successfully Starting A Moving Company
This article is a 9025 word blueprint to starting your own removals business. We have covered everything there is to cover when getting your new business off the ground but of course, there’s always much more to learn.
You’ll only learn the ropes with experience which means just getting out and going for it. It’s a highly rewarding industry to be a part of and I for one thank myself often for choosing this path.
You probably found this articles because you’re looking to start a business of some kind. When it boils down to it, you really only need to know 2 things when thinking about getting into the removals industry.
- The money you can make is phenomenal, you can enjoy much more free time with your family and you get paid to travel and enjoy the fresh air.
- The work is sometimes gruelling, you’re often working to other peoples timescales and the risk of personal injury by carelessness is moderately high.
If you think we missed something in the article or you have any questions, feel free to leave feedback in the comments below.
All the best and good luck on your journey.