Picking the right removal company is vital to having a stress-free moving day

Hundreds of people every week are disappointed, shocked, or angry, by the standard of service that they receive from the removal company they hired to help them move home.

But many of these nightmare home moves could have easily been avoided if they had known how to choose a good removal company.

Finding a good removal company may seem like looking for a needle in a haystack, but there are many good removal companies out there and with the ultimate guide to picking a good removal company, you will soon find the ideal removal company to hire.

In this week’s home moving blog, we will take you through a case study, step-by-step of how to choose the best removal company for your home move.

For this guide we are going to look for the best removal companies in London, there will be lots to choose from, so we will show you how to narrow down your options, saving you time, money, and a whole heap of stress on moving day, then through the whole process right up until you decide to book the best removal company in London.

You may also like to read: Moving Brokers – What You Need to Know and Why. During your search for a good removal company, you may come across a moving broker without even knowing it. A moving broker is often a middle-man, a booking agent. Whilst this may or may not be a problem, this guide tells you all you need to know and what to be aware of when booking through a broker.

Step-By-Step How To Find The Best Removal Company

  1. Make an internet search
  2. Get quotes
  3. Check Company House records
  4. Read reviews
  5. Check out the removal company
  6. Reach out for recommendations
  7. Get a home moving survey
  8. Questions to ask a removal company
  9. Compare removal company quotes
  10. Book a removal company

#1 Internet Search Best Removal Companies London

Type ‘best removal companies London’ into the search bar of your internet search engine and you will be presented with thousands of pages to choose from.

But which result do you click on?

Ignore the paid ads at the top of the page which are from companies that have paid huge money to appear there, which is no indication of a good removal firm, only that they have a large marketing budget.

Below the ads is a list of removal firms that are based on your location, they will be local to you, but at this stage, we have no idea how good they are, if they deliver to your destination, have the right sized vans to move you, or are available on the date you want to move.

Next, will be a list of the websites that it deems answer your question most accurately and have what is known as authority, which means the search engine trusts this website to give you an accurate and trustworthy answer to your query.

So now we click on the first website that has been recommended to us. https://www.removalreviews.co.uk/uk/moving-companies/london-44750

You may also like to read: How to Compare Removal Company Review Websites in which we show you how to determine if a review website is good or bad and whether you can trust the reviews it publishes.

#2 Get Free Quotes For Your Home Move

Free, quick and easy with no obligations, an online quote is your first step in finding a great removal company

When you click on the website link you will be taken to the page that specifically answers the question that you asked online.

In this case, we are presented with a list of the 10 best London removal firms, but the list continues with over 1330 removal companies in London to choose from.

London is a big city and many of the removal firms listed do not cover every postcode in London, nor may they deliver to your destination.

Even choosing from the top 10 listed companies would be time-consuming, so how do we narrow down our options?

Well, we could sort the listing for the highest-rated removal companies in London but that poses a problem. A company may have 500 5-star reviews, but they may be from a couple of years ago, how good are they now?

Or we could filter by the latest reviews, or the company with the most reviews, but at this stage that still gives us far too many removal firms to choose from.

Ideally, we need 3-4 reputable removal companies to compare and choose from.

By filling out the quick quote form or calling the free-phone quote line, you will receive a maximum of 4 quotes from removal companies who pick up and deliver to the postcodes you specified, have vehicles big enough to move the size of home you have and are available to move you on the date you requested.

Additionally, you have the comfort of knowing that they are legally registered businesses (more about this later), and have maintained a good reputation over several years.

You are under no obligation to any of the companies that give you a quote, but we have a good starting point now.

Fill out this quick and free removal company quote form or call 0800 086 9093 now to receive up to four no-obligation quotes for your move.

You might also like to read: Online Home Removal Quotes – Your Questions Answered in which we look at whether it is worth getting an online quote or whether it is a waste of your time.

#3 Check Company House Records

Potential Red Flags to look out for:

  • Very recently registered
  • Multiple change of company name
  • Owner associated with many non-active removal firms
  • Accounts not submitted

The companies that have sent you quotes will be legally registered, it is a requirement of their registration to the website, but we will take nothing for granted.

Double-check everything you are told, we want to be as confident as possible that we have chosen the best removal company we can.

Knowing that they are a legally registered business gives us a degree of confidence that it is a legitimate business.

So click on the link:  https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company

Then type the removal company name into the register search bar.

You will then be presented with a list of companies whose name matches that which you searched for.

Just click on the company name and the company overview will be displayed.

We are looking for a company that has been trading for several years, this indicates that they are likely to be financially secure and have a good enough business to stand the test of time.

Note also the address that the company is registered at, we will need this later.

Next, click on the ‘Filing History’ tab. This shows that the company have regularly submitted their accounts and that all the required paperwork is up to date.

#4 Read Removal Company Reviews

Treated with caution, reviews can help you decide which removal company to choose

Potential Red Flags to look out for:

  • 3-star rating or lower
  • No less than perfect reviews
  • No recent reviews
  • Multiple reviews posted on the same date
  • Avoid review sites that charge companies to be listed
  • The company name is very very similar to a well-known or respected removal company
  • Low ratings coupled with many filtered reviews

Satisfied that the company is legally registered, we can now start to delve deeper into the kind of service that these companies offer.

Go to the company profile on the removal review website.

We can start by sorting the reviews to only show us the most recent.

Whilst reviews from 3 or 4 years ago will show how consistently good or bad the company are, the more recent the reviews the better.

Look at reviews overall, but you should be particularly interested in ones that are a close match to your move, a similar size and move distance for example.

A good sign is if the company takes the time to respond to the reviews left, although not always a sign of good customer service, it is an indicator.

Also look for reviews with specific items that you are worried about moving, a piano or fine art for example. This will show that the removal firm has experience in moving such things.

Look out for fake reviews. Whilst this particular site has many procedures in place to try and filter out fake reviews some will inevitably slip through.

Also, be very cautious of review websites that charge companies to be on there or who have no checks in place to verify that the reviews are genuine.

Similar wording or phrases, reviews that mention the company name repeatedly, and multiple reviews posted on the same day could all indicate fake reviews.

Also, take note of the reviewers’ names, it is amazing how many employees of the company have the same name, often the owner.

So just note the owner’s name from the company house records and keep an eye out for that.

Also, note any names mentioned in the reviews, they will often pop up as the person writing a review.

Finally go to the foot of the company profile, where the reviews end, and you will see a note showing filtered reviews.

This is usually a result of people not activating the review once they have submitted it.

However, it can also be a sign that the company has unverified reviews that may or may not have been submitted by themselves or a marketing company.

If the company have many bad reviews and a large number of filtered reviews, it would be best to avoid that company.

Bonus tip: Check the spelling of the removal company that you are researching carefully. Often unscrupulous removal companies will have a very similar sounding name, or with LTD at the end, or often a letter different in the name, to a legitimate company with an excellent reputation. You will think that you are contacting a legitimate company when in fact it is a scam company.

You may like to read: How to Make Reviews Work For You where we discover what to look for when reading reviews, how to spot useful reviews and how to spot fake reviews.

#5 How to Research a Removal Company

Potential Red Flags to Look Out for:

  • No company website
  • Company registered at a PO Box number or hire-an-office address
  • No company depot
  • They exclusively use hire vans
  • No company address on their website
  • Only a mobile phone number on their contact details
  • The owner has had multiple failed removal companies
  • Job adverts for casual members of staff
  • Unprofessional correspondence
  • Unprofessional customer service

Next, we are going to verify every last detail that we can about the removal company.

NOTE: There is no special register or licence required to offer home removal services in the UK, effectively anyone with a van can advertise as a removal company. Be extremely vigilant when checking out any removal company you are thinking of hiring.

Firstly, check the registered address from the Company House register by doing a quick internet search and by doing a street map search.

Some firms are registered via a company whose address houses dozens of companies, such as a PO Box number. Some are accountants and are legitimate, but others are just so that the company can have an address, so be wary if that is the case.

Ideally, the removal company will have a depot, if the address search brings back a residential address, this may be an indication that the firm has no base, only hires vans rather than having its own, and may only be a man and a van type company. In itself, this is not a problem but is a potential red flag to add to any other concerns you may have.

Physically visit the address if you can, a look from the outside will tell you how professional the company are:

  • Are the lorries clean?
  • Are the staff in uniform?
  • How organised does the office or depot appear?
  • Is everything well maintained?
  • If they offer storage, how secure are the premises?

Go to the removal company’s website and thoroughly read it (if the company has no website this would be extremely unusual these days and may be a red flag).

Does the registered address match the removal company website contact page?

If there is no address on the company website this again is a red flag. Why would the removal company not want you to know where they were based?

On the contact page for the company you ideally want both mobile and landline telephone numbers. Call the numbers and see how professional the response is and how easy it is to get a hold of customer service.

Send an email to the company and again note how professional and timely the response is.

From the details on the company house register, you can also do an internet search for the company owners’ names.

Take a look at their LinkedIn profile which will give you a summary of their career and their experience within the removal industry.

Also, go back to the Company House website and put the owner’s name into the search bar.

If they have been the owner of several failed removal companies this could be a red flag. The results will list how many companies that person has been involved in and whether the company is still active.

It is not unusual for a company to get such a bad reputation that they close down and reopen under a different name, it is worth checking.

Use social media to reach out and ask people about their experiences using this company. Go to the company’s Facebook page and see what people are writing and just as importantly how the company are responding.

Visit www.glassdoor.com which is a website where employees of a company can leave reviews to rate how the company treats its employees. Whilst there will be some disgruntled ex-members of staff, it will be an indication of how well the company is run.

On the removal company quote that you were supplied with should have been details about what to do in the event of a claim for damaged or lost items. Contact the insurer listed on the quote to ensure that the removal company have a current policy with them, what that policy covers, and how easy it is for you to make a claim should you need to.

Outstanding customer service is usually the difference between a good and bad company

Do a search through job agencies to see if the company is advertising for staff.

Do they want only people with experience, is it casual work or a long-term contract, and is full training given? This will give you an indication that they use untrained casual staff during busy periods of the year.

If you are moving a large number of items then the removal company will likely use a heavy goods vehicle to move you.

Some removal companies do not operate heavy goods vehicles (HGV) and will use multiple smaller vehicles to move you, so you need to ask the question.

If they are using an HGV then check that the removal company has an O Licence (vehicle operator licence) at www.gov.uk  

Ensure that the licence is a standard national licence as that means they are licenced to carry goods belonging to the public both nationally and internationally.

If it says restricted licence then they can only carry goods that belong to them.

Read more about O licences at www.dhlicencecheck.co.uk

This is just another check you can make to ensure all the addresses match and that the removal company operates within the law, although not every removal firm needs an O licence, it is an extra check that you may be able to carry out.

Finally, is the company a member of a removal industry association?

Whilst this is no guarantee that they are a good removal firm, there are certain benefits for you as a customer if they do belong to BAR for example.

Belonging to a removal trade organisation is also an indication that they are a professional company as they must attain and maintain a certain level of service and standards to be a member of BAR.

Contact BAR on 01923 699 480 to ensure that the removal company is still an active member. It is not unheard of for a removal company to display out-of-date information on their website or paperwork.

Which? Trusted Trader Scheme and Trading Standards Buy With Confidence are also good resources to check.

Members must adhere to certain standards of operation and maintain a good reputation. It is another indication to you that the company you are thinking of hiring cares about its customers and reputation enough to belong to such schemes.

You may also like to read: Home Removal Industry Associations and Trade Bodies. In this guide, we look at the various removal industry associations and what membership means for your home move. If you are moving overseas then it is highly recommended that any mover you hire is a member of one of the removal industry groups.

#6 Reach Out for Recommendations

Recommendations don’t come any better than from someone you know and trust. Ask friends and family if they have experience using any removal company you are thinking of hiring.

It is also worth asking your estate agent what they know about the removal firms you are thinking of hiring. They will likely know the local removal firms to avoid.

Social media is also a great place to see what others think of the removal company, and whilst on there, take the time to check out the removal company’s social media pages.

If you are moving further afield, especially out of the country, then join some expat forums where you will get lots of useful advice and recommendations.

You may like to read: Why Social Proof Matters When Choosing a Removal Company in which we look at why it is so important that you hire a removal company that is endorsed by other people who have used their services.

#7 Get an In-Home Moving Survey

An in-home survey will ensure a robust moving day plan is made

Watch Out for This Red Flag:

  • The removal company do not carry out a survey of the things you want to move.

The only way that you will get an accurate quote for your home move is from a survey.

This is when a removal firm will make an inventory of all the items you want moving, they will see any loading or parking issues, and be able to make a plan for moving day.

It is more and more common for removal firms to do this survey via an app or video call.

If the removal firm just quotes you without seeing exactly what you are moving or what issues they may face on moving day, be very wary.

How can they give you an accurate quote just based on averages? Come moving day they are more than likely to turn around and insist you pay extra.

Always get an inventory made by the removal firm, if they do not offer a free in-home survey either in person or via video, then walk away.

These are some things to look out for during the removal company survey:

  1. How professional were they?
  2. Did they arrive on time?
  3. Were they knowledgeable?
  4. Were they thorough when making the inventory of your items to be moved?
  5. Did they offer advice on your home move?
  6. Did they ask you questions to ensure the service that was being offered was what you wanted or needed?
  7. Did they explain their moving plan and exactly what would happen on moving day?
  8. Did you have a good feeling about the removal company? Often this is the deciding factor on which removal company you choose.

You may like to know: What is a Full-Service Home Move? In which we explain exactly what you can expect from a full-service removal company, what they do and how it will make your home move safer and stress-free for you.

#8 Questions to Ask a Removal Company

Be consistent with the questions you ask each company that gives you a quote so that they are easier to compare

The in-home survey is the perfect opportunity to find out a bit more about the company and to confirm exactly the services they offer.

It is your opportunity to interview them so that you are 100% happy with how professional they are, that they will provide you with an excellent service, and that they are aware of every aspect of your home move.

Nobody likes surprises on moving day so always be honest with your removal company.

Here are some questions for your removal company that you may want to ask.

Be sure to ask all the removal companies the same questions, and tell them the same things you want to be moved, and the same services, it will make comparing the removal companies and the quotes they give so much easier.

  1. Do they provide a full packing service?
  2. Do they provide the packing materials for your move?
  3. Are the packing materials included in the quote?
  4. Will the packing materials have to be returned to the removal company, and if so, within what timescale?
  5. Do they provide specialist packing boxes like wardrobe and TV boxes or crates for fine art?
  6. Are they experienced in moving a particular item that you are concerned about, for example, a piano?
  7. Are there any items that they are prohibited from moving for health and safety reasons?
  8. Will the removal company disconnect and reconnect your appliances?
  9. Will the removal company dismantle and reassemble your furniture?
  10. Do they have experience of long-distance moves?
  11. How long has the company been in business?
  12. Are the moving team employed by the company or are they temporary staff? Temporary staff are likely to take less care of your belongings.
  13. What training does the moving team get? Ask to see training certificates.
  14. What insurance cover does the company offer?
  15. Does it offer adequate cover for especially precious items?
  16. Pay particular attention to this question and ensure you know exactly what you are, and are not, covered for, and what the levels of compensation are should the worst happen.
  17. What is their complaints procedure? Get this in writing
  18. Are they a member of an industry professional body, such as the British Association of Removals? Ask for their membership number
  19. Are there any additional charges that you may incur on moving day, for example, if there is a delay in getting the keys to your new home?
  20. Does the company have a cancellation policy?
  21. Do they have storage facilities? Even if you think you do not need storage, ask this question. If you need emergency storage for some reason on moving day it will give you peace of mind that your belongings are safe.
  22. Find out their terms and methods for payment, be wary if it is cash only and always get receipts.
  23. Find out how you can contact the removal company: mobile numbers, landlines and email addresses. And get the name of the person who will be managing your home move. Reputable companies will be able to offer you various forms of communication.
  24. Tell the surveyor everything you intend to move including garden furniture and garden plant pots.
  25. Find out what your role is before, or on, moving day.
  26. Will the removal company arrange any parking permits that may be needed?

You may also like to read: Why it Pays to be Honest With Your Removal Company. Clear and honest communication between yourself and the removal company is vital so that you both know exactly what will happen on moving day. In this guide, we look at the consequences of not telling your removal company all they need to know about your home move.

#9 How to Compare Removal Company Quotes

We are almost done.

Now, all we have to do is compare our notes about each company and choose who our moving partner is going to be.

It is really useful to make a comparison chart, so we have created one for you:

Removal Company Comparison Chart

  Removal Co. 1Removal Co. 2Removal Co. 3Removal Co. 4
1First Impressions from initial contact    
2Professional attitude to in-home moving survey    
3Inventory of items to be moved made?    
4Detailed plan for moving day offered    
5Did the surveyor answer all your questions satisfactorily?    
6Removal cost    
7What are the payment methods?    
8What are the terms of payment?    
9Packing Costs    
10Were packing materials included in the above cost?    
11Do they offer specialist packing materials or services? (e.g. Piano)    
12What additional services were offered?    
13Is there anything you own that they cannot move?    
14Is any discount offered?    
15How established is the company?    
16What is the company rating on review websites?    
17Do they use only company staff – not temps?    
18What insurance was offered?    
19Is the company a member of a professional body (BAR or NGRS)    
20Do they have a complaints procedure?    
21Do they have a Storage facility?    
22Overall impression    

You should not base your final decision upon cost alone, While some very good removal firms will move you cheaply, generally, you get what you pay for.

Take your time to choose a removal company, you will be entrusting them with all your precious items, everything you own in the world, it is not a decision to take lightly.

Must read: Home Removal Insurance – Do I Need it? This is essential reading if you are moving home, from insuring against delays to a cancelled home move, find out all you need to know about insuring your home move.

#10 When Do I Book a Removal Company?

As soon as you have a moving date, book your removal company. Ideally, you should give your removal company at least 2 weeks’ notice of your move date.

Try to avoid moving on a Friday or at the end of the month as these are the busiest times for removal companies and that will be reflected in the cost of your move.

Most removal companies can be a little flexible if you need to change the date of your move, but during very busy periods this may be more difficult.

Ensure that you keep in regular contact with the removal company so that they know of any potential issues or changes that you need to make.

You might like to read: What to Know When Hiring a Removal Company for the First Time in which we look at exactly what a removal company does, how they can make your home move easier and cheaper, and the things to look out for when hiring a removal company.

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Bonus Tips For Hiring a Good Removal Company

Be as vigilant as you can when choosing a removal company. You will be trusting them with all your worldly possessions
  • Always get everything in writing so that there can be no misunderstandings.
  • Whenever you talk with the removal firm always follow up any conversations with an email so that there is a written record of everything. In all likelihood, your move will go perfectly to plan, but it is always better to have evidence of conversations should you ever need them.
  • Always be honest with your removal company, don’t try to sneak in another 20 boxes or another double wardrobe, you will be charged for them and even worse, they may not fit on the lorry and have to be left behind.
  • Don’t sign anything without reading it first.
  • Never sign blank sheets of paper.
  • Ensure you 100% understand the insurance you are being offered and that it adequately covers your possessions.
  • Moving is stressful, even for a professional removal company. Treat your moving team with respect and trust them to do the job you have paid them to do. They will have encountered any problems that arise a hundred times so will have a solution.
  • On moving day your removal team will appreciate a bottle of water or a hot drink. This is also a great opportunity to build a rapport with the removal team, be respectful to them and they are likely to go the extra mile to ensure your move is flawless.

You may also like to read: How to Avoid Removal Company Scams for more top tips on hiring a good removal company and avoiding the rogue ones.

Hiring a good removal company is essential to have an easy and stress-free home move.

The vast majority of removal companies will offer you an outstanding service, but as in any industry, there are always a few rogue companies.

Be vigilant, research thoroughly, check, check, and check again, and if you have even the slightest concern, walk away, your gut instinct is usually right.

Choosing the right removal company is so important that our home moving blog has a whole section devoted to this subject. Be sure to check it out.

And after your home move please come back and leave the removal company a review. It is good for the removal company and for those looking to hire them. Good or bad, a review is always useful.

Good luck in finding a great removal company and with moving to your new home.

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