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How to Start a Moving Company

How to Start a Moving Company

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How to Start a Moving Company

People are always moving, and that is not going to change.   Moving is hard work, though, and many people do not want to do all the heavy lifting themselves.  Starting a moving company could be a profitable business opportunity for you.

Business Overview

A moving company helps people or companies move household goods or an office from one location to another.  They may also offer packing services.  They may work locally only or move items to other locations in the state or anywhere in the country.

Industry Summary

According to Move Buddha, around 31 million people move in the United States per year, and the moving industry size is $86 billion.  The industry has steadily grown about 3% per year.  There are about 7,000 moving companies operating in the United States.

Industry Trends

The real estate market affects the moving industry and is expected to do well in 2021.  However, renters move more than homeowners, and the economy affects the moving industry.  When the economy is down, jobs are less available, and people cannot afford to move.  Millennials are moving less compared to previous generations due to limited job opportunities.

Target Market

Your target market will be people preparing to move.

Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running a Moving Business

There are several specific skills that you will need to open a moving company.

  • Experience.  Experience working for a moving service is helpful.
  • Business knowledge and experience.  You will need to have at least some basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources.
  • People skills. You’ll need to be able to build rapport with your customers so that you retain them as customers and keep them coming back.

Checklist for Starting a Moving Company

Starting a moving company can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the challenges ahead. Use this checklist to help get your business off on the right foot.

Step 1: Write your Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your moving company should be to write a business plan.  The business plan will make you focus on some important aspects of the business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting sales and expenses, your value proposition to use for marketing, and more. You’ll also need to do some research to calculate exactly what your startup expenses will be, and what your ongoing expenses will be.

Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan if you need financing, but multiple studies have shown that having a good business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Writing the plan helps you to think through all the aspects of the business, and then serves as a guide as you begin.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 2: Name the Business

Finding the perfect moving company name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to reflect what you do and be appealing to customers, it also has to be available to use. You can check your state’s website to see if the name is available and register your name.  Your name should make you stand out, reflect your brand, and tell potential customers exactly what you do.

Step 3: Form a Business Entity

A business entity (also called a business structure) refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.

When deciding on which business entity is best for a Moving company, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.

A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay. The corporation can be a good choice because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.

That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.

The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.

Related: 3 steps to forming your LLC

Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.

Some popular LLC formation services include:

IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

ZenBusiness - Best for beginners. $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

Northwest - Best privacy protection. $39 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

Step 4: Select your Location

You need a location where you can house your truck or trucks, as well as all your supplies.  A location where you have a lot of visibility to the public is helpful, but not necessary.

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

While some states don’t require a license specifically for a moving business, many states require movers to be on file with regional travel authorities (typically the Public Service Commission). In addition to registering for a federal DOT number, most states have a regulating agency that licenses trucks making interstate moves as well.

There will likely be general business licenses needed such as state tax ID number and an Employer Identification Number.  

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state

Step 6: Find Financing

Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a new moving business is another.  In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to invest 15-25% of their money towards the total start-up costs.

In some cases, a loan guarantee from the Small Business Administration (SBA) may be needed to secure a bank loan.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account

A moving company will need to set aside a budget to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for a moving company include social media marketing and online advertising. Additionally, advertising in the newspaper classified sections and posting flyers on bulletin boards can be effective as well.

If you also perform other moving services, such as packing materials and storage, be sure to include these services in your advertising.  By including more than one service, you can attract more customers and have the opportunity to provide them with a variety of moving services.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place

A moving company will need to set aside a budget to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for a moving company include social media marketing and online advertising. Additionally, advertising in the newspaper classified sections and posting flyers on bulletin boards can be effective as well.

Getting clients to know about your business is one thing, but having a strong company reputation is critical to getting them to consider hiring you. Work on building a reputation through online review sites, along with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

If you also perform other moving services, such as packing material and storage, be sure to include these services in your advertising.  By including more than one service, you can attract more customers and have the opportunity to provide them with a variety of moving services.

While other moving companies are direct competitors, storage pod businesses have been cutting into the profits of moving companies.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Every business is going to need a logo. Make a professional logo in no time with the free logo makers from BrandCrowd and Canva.

Step 9: Get Business Insurance

Even though 80% of moves have no claims filed, according to the American Moving & Storage Association, it’s critical to purchase several types of insurance to fully protect the business. A few of the most common policies include:

General liability insurance coverage can help protect you from third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage.
Professional liability insurance protects a business and its employees from claims of professional errors or negligence that result in a financial loss.
Commercial vehicle insurance is used to protect moving vehicles.
Worker’s compensation insurance covers expenses like medical bills and legal fees that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while working.
Cargo insurance will protect the customer’s belongings while they are in transport against damage and liability.

Insurance policies will vary. To get the most accurate idea of what to budget for insurance, request quotes from multiple providers. When comparing the quotes, consider not only the premiums but also how the plan exclusions, coverage limitations, and deductibles compare.

Related: Common types of insurance a business may need

Step 10: Hire Employees

You will need employees to help you run your moving company.  Drivers are the most often needed position for moving companies to fill, and they can be hard to find and keep due to the labor-intensive nature of the job.

In addition to salary costs, your budget will also need to include other employee-related expenses. Workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off are common expenses that a business will need to cover when hiring staff.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Step 11: Set up an Accounting System

Setting up an accounting system for your moving company is critical to the long-term success of your business.

Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.

Related: Setting up the accounting for your business


How much does it cost to start a moving company?

Here are the typical costs you will face when you open a moving company.

– Box truck – $15,000 – $60,000 per truck
– Semi truck and trailer – $100,000 – $250,000
– Moving equipment such as dollies, pads, blankets, packing supplies, tie-downs, furniture belts, and other items $1,000 – $2,000

How profitable is a moving company?

Pricing is typically based on the volume of contents being moved, the number of miles being driven, and labor costs for loading and unloading. The average local move costs about $1,000 but can be much higher based on the number of items, mileage, and labor costs.  If you do 2 moves per week at $1,000, you would make $104,000 per year in revenue.

Don’t forget to look into renting moving trucks during the peak moving periods if you are unable to afford to purchase one. Assuming you have access to drivers, this can help expand the number of moves, resulting in increased income.

To increase profitability, many moving companies will also offer to pack and store customers’ belongings, insurance, and selling packing supplies. Additionally, charging more to protect and move specialty items can generate additional income as well.

While profitability is good, make sure you maintain a cash buffer for slow times. Peak moving times tend to (but not always) happen more in the summer, as many families don’t want to disrupt the household during the school year.

Staying on top of maintenance is important to keeping a moving company profitable. If a truck goes down during the peak season, revenue will likely go down as a result.

Are there grants to start a moving company?

It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a moving company. If you search for small business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.

Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.

What is the NAICS code for a moving company?

The NAICS code for a moving company is 484210, which also includes furniture moving, office moving, and van lines.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code and how to find yours


American Moving & Storage Association

How to Start a Moving Company

How to Start a Moving Company

Greg Bouhl

Greg Bouhl

Welcome! My name is Greg Bouhl, and I am a serial entrepreneur, educator, business advisor, and investor.

StartingYourBusiness.com is here because of the many clients I worked with who made decisions based on inaccurate and outdated information.

Starting a business is hard, but here you will find the practical tools, resources, and insider tips to help you successfully start a business.

If there is a question about starting a business or help finding a resource, I'm here to help!

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