Effectively Overseeing a Complicated Long Distance Move
"The average household relocates 7,400 pounds — nearly four tons — of stuff, and an eight-room home uses 100 boxes in the process" (Source: Good Housekeeping).
As assistants, we want to ensure every item moved for our principal is properly accounted for and makes it safely to its new location, although that is never an easy task. I've overseen a variety of moves, from a relocation just a couple miles down the road, to a move that was out of state, required stops at several storage facilities hundreds of miles apart and included final deliveries in a couple of different homes.
I have learned best practices the hard way, and hope the following moving tips can make a move you might need to oversee someday be a smooth one.
Avoid going through a broker when booking a car transport if possible. They are a useless middleman and in almost all car transports I have overseen, they have provided false information. I recommend researching a transport company that is as close as possible to the pickup location and going directly through them.
Also, no matter what the transport company or broker (if you have to use one) tells you, it is not legal to have anything in the car being transported. Chances are you will be told that having around 100 pounds of items in the trunk is okay. If you do load up the car, on pickup day you risk the driver either refusing to transport the vehicle or asking for additional cash, which can run anywhere between $100-$250 extra. The reason for this is if the driver gets pulled over, he runs the risk of getting a ticket for transporting more than just a vehicle.
Lastly, book the transport pick up for a window that is as early as your principal's schedule allows. It's important to add in buffer time for yourself; the 2-3 day window you will receive is not set in stone and the transport company might have a larger window where they are contractually allowed to pick up the car (I have seen 10 days, but this can vary). There's nothing more stressful than running down to the last day and then being told that the window has been adjusted.
Long Distance Movers
It's definitely easier researching local movers; you typically can search Yelp, cross-reference other review websites and make a fairly confident choice. Researching long distance movers is not quite so simple, but here are a few resources that I recommend utilizing in your research:
FMCSA - While state regulations vary, all interstate movers must, at a minimum, be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and are assigned a motor carrier number that you can verify here.
BBB - Check the company's rating with the Better Business Bureau. You can see if there are any complaints, all details about those and if they were resolved.
A few websites that great for cross-referencing after you check out the FMCSA and BBB are Consumer Affairs, MovingScam.com, MoverReviews.com and Angie's List. One thing to keep in mind when reading reviews is that a lot of people tend to have more stuff than they realize and/or their items needed to be repacked by the movers in order to withstand the journey, so the shock of the extra charges is what they vent about. Try to look past those reviews and focus on ones with more valid concerns.
You can also check for additional certifications, such as if they are an SMA Pinnacle Mover or an AMSA ProMover. Certifications such as these show that the company has met additional criteria, which can bring a bit more peace of mind when narrowing down options.
I recommend tracking every single item, no matter how small they are, especially if items might end up in storage. For example, instead of saying "towels," list out those in detail such as "white face cloths, blue and white striped hand towels and yellow beach towels" so you remember exactly which towels you were referring to on the list. I have learned the hard way how important this is. You need to be prepared with a detailed list in case the person you support asks where anything is, especially if you have to retrieve it in a timely manner.
I also recommend marking the outside of the box with name of the room where the items inside will go. Include a number if there are several boxes for a particular room, ex: "Kitchen 1". These labels will be how you track on a separate spreadsheet every single item inside. Be sure to track the larger loose items (ex: ladder) as well.
You also could take photos of what's inside each box for your inventory list. This is great for tracking your principal's wardrobe and any other items where a photo could help for quick identification and retrieval.
Do not pack any liquids. If you think they are secure (ex: liquid soap in a special dispenser) that is not necessarily the case and is not worth the risk. Some finishes (ex: silver) can tarnish with the tiniest bit of moisture, so take the time to make sure everything is totally empty and dry.
Also, be sure the person you support knows that long distance moving companies charge by weight. See if there are any items that might not be worth moving and help your principal downsize to keep the final cost down.
One person I supported had a move that involved 2 states, 3 cities, and 6 stops. Making sure the right items went to the right location was a challenge in organization, but using colored duct tape made it easy. Everything in the particular move I oversaw had final destinations in 3 locations, so I used 3 different colors of duct tape to correspond with each of the 3 final destinations. What I did was make sure each box or large item had a huge "X" on it with the correct color of duct tape so it was an easy visual for the movers. It worked great and everything ended up where it was supposed to.
Have you overseen a move before as an assistant? Please share your experiences below!