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How to Estimate Moving Jobs: A Pricing Guide for Small Businesses

Moving jobs can cost a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Because moving can be expensive, clients will want detailed, accurate estimates before they purchase your services.

Writing a formal estimate also helps a moving company take a detailed look at costs to that they end up making a profit. Just remember, you’re legally bound by the information in your written estimate, according to Consumer Affairs.

Need a professional estimate template? FreshBooks’ online estimating software makes generating and sending estimates easy. Plus, you can quickly convert them into invoices when the job’s done.

In this article, we’ll cover:

1. Visit the House

Don’t simply give quotes over the phone or online. It’s important to visit the potential client’s house in person so you know exactly what you’re dealing with and can charge accordingly (see additional costs below). Otherwise, you might end up lowballing yourself and confusing the client with extra fees later.

The U.S. DOT Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also requires that if the potential client lives within 50 miles of your location, you must draw up your estimate based on an in-person evaluation of the home’s contents. That said, the client can waive this right, if they wish, according to Consumer Affairs.

2. Make an Inventory List

Visiting the home will also obviously help you make an inventory list of everything you will move, something you need to include with your written estimate. You need to include all furniture, even smaller items, and the approximate number of boxes you’ll be moving. This inventory list must be included with your estimate.

3. Decide on a Type of Estimate

There are three types of moving estimates:

  1. Binding moving estimate: the price you provide in the estimate must be honored in the final invoice. If anything changes, though, such as having to move additional items, then you can adjust the price.
  2. Non-binding moving estimate: you can bill up to 110 percent of the price you provide in this type of estimate at delivery time and bill additional charges later. This estimate is your best guess and the final number is determined by the shipment weight and services provided.
  3. Binding-not-to-exceed moving estimate: same as a binding estimate except if the client’s items weigh less than you estimated, then the client pays less too.

4. Consider the Moving Date

Charge twice the average during busy moving seasons, like summer and holidays. You should also set a time limit on the quote, such as 30 days. If the client doesn’t make a decision after the quote’s expiration date, draw up a new one, if requested, and make sure to add extra charges if the new relocation date falls in a busier season.

5. Charge Based on Weight

Legitimate moving companies charge based on the weight of the contents being shipped for long-distance moves. Don’t charge based on volume (measured in cubic feet). This practice is illegal in most states and it’s easy to overcharge the customer this way, which will damage your reputation, according to Consumer Affairs. Charge per pound, instead. The average is 50 cents per pound, according to Home Advisor.

You can charge by the hour for local moves The average price is $25 per hour per mover, according to My Moving Reviews. Home Advisor puts the average between $25 to $50 per mover.

Here are some average times for local moves. Multiply the $25 per hour per mover rate as needed.

  • Studio apartment: three to five hours with two movers
  • Two-bedroom apartment: five to seven hours with three movers
  • Three-bedroom house: seven to ten hours with four movers
  • Homes over 5,000 square feet: it depends, but this can cost $1,500 to $2,000

6. Factor in Distance

Long-distance moves obviously will cost your client more. Here are some average prices for a move that’s about 1,000 miles with no additional services:

  • Studio apartment: $1,500 at minimum
  • One-bedroom apartment: $1,800 to $2,500
  • Two-bedroom home: $3,500 to $4,200

7. Factor in Additional Costs

Now it’s time to factor in additional costs. Some of them you’ll know about from visiting the home, others you’ll need the client’s approval for. Make sure all of them are included in your written estimate so the client knows exactly what these extra fees are for and how much they’ll have to pay for these moving services.

Here are some typical additional costs:

  • Stairs: some companies include a flight of stairs in their prices, others charge extra to carry items up and down stairs
  • Long carry: specific how far your movers will carry items to their truck. Anything over that should be charged extra.
  • Shuttle service: a shuttle service may be necessary if you can’t park your moving truck near the house
  • Packing: charge for packing materials and the service itself (which you can charge per item or by the hour), if the client chooses this option. This usually costs $25 to $35 an hour, according to My Moving Reviews.
  • Large and heavy items: include pianos, safes etc. If you’re able to move these big, heavy items, charge extra. Moving a piano should cost $150 to $800.
  • Moving insurance: it’s required for you to provide basic insurance but give the client the option to buy full-value coverage

All in all, a move within a state should cost the customer around $1,170 based on a weight of 7,400 pounds and a crew of four. Of course, this price will go up and down depending on the location. A move between states should cost around $5,630 with a weight of 7,400 pounds on average and a distance of 1,220 miles (with the same caveat as before), according to Angie’s List.

This moving cost calculator will help you figure out average prices in your area.

People also ask:

How Much Should It Cost to Move?

Local moves (within your state) cost $2,300 on average for four movers at $200 an hour, according to Moving.com. This figure is for an average weight of 7,400 pounds, which is the approximate contents of a three bedroom house. This number includes packing and other essential services.

A local move for a one-bedroom apartment costs about $300 to $500 for two men, a truck and a three to five hour move at $100 an hour, according to Movers.com.

How Much Do Long Distance Movers Cost?

Long distance moves (from one state to another) cost $4,300 on average for an average weight of 7,400 pounds and distance of 1,225 miles. This number includes packing and other essential services, according to Moving.com.

A long distance move for a one-bedroom apartment starts at $1,600 for 500 miles. Add on packing services and movers insurance and the number rises to $1,900, according to Movers.com.

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