Choosing A Removal & Storage Company
Having gone through the process of installation many times, we thought we would get together a guide to choosing a removal and storage company for the Interior Design & Home Staging Industry.
All interior designers and home stagers need some form of labour, vans, and storage to deal with the installation of a project. Some choose to have this in-house and others choose to use a specialist moving company to subcontract to. It’s important to work with subcontractors that represent your company to the highest levels; they are working under your banner and reputation, so you must work with the right people.
Here is a guide to price (based on the basic 2 man 1 Luton van per hour model):
- Expensive/large companies – £75 – £90 ph + Vat
- Mid-range – £60 – £70 ph + Vat
- Small outfits – £45 – £55 ph + vat (full insurance unlikely to be in place)
- Bargain basement – £10 – £40 ph no vat (proceed with caution)
These prices are based on the London market but can be up to 20% lower outside the large cities.
Some companies quote a day rate or set price, others charge by the hour. Whichever way round you do it, the final price will be very similar as long as the moving company’s quotation is accurate.
Outsource and profit
Your moving company will offer a range of services that will be useful through the course of a project. There should be scope for you to add at least a 10% mark up on these when building your quotes. We have seen some clients double our price so don’t look at the logistics as an extra cost to you, look at it as an extra service to sell to your clients.
Services you could outsource
This is a massive time saver for you. A lot of furniture suppliers are curbside delivery only so what happens when that Coach House lorry turns up outside your project? You need to pay people to unload it into your current project. If you are doing any building or decorating work then the new furniture is at risk of damage and will get in the way of your team.
Instead, have your stock for a project sent to the moving company in the run-up to installation day. They can sign for it, check it and store it safely out of the way until installation day.
Storage and stock management
Storage commission can be a big one. There are various storage commission structures out there. We pay a % of the monthly rental each month; some do a one-off payment for bringing in the client. So if you are putting furniture in storage for your clients ask the storage company if they can offer an incentive for you to bring your clients to them. For some of our larger clients, the monthly commission really adds up and becomes a new revenue stream.
Whether it’s stock for a single project or to use many times, you will need to store it somewhere. If your moving company provides storage, this will marry up really nicely and help to keep track of your stock. Your movers should provide a detailed inventory of what’s in storage, saving you from going back and forth to check.
Furniture delivery & installation
Delivering quality furniture to nice properties needs to be done properly. Getting a sizeable and heavy sofa into a small cottage, for example, can be very tricky and cause a lot of damage.
Get professionals to do it. It will be done quickly, efficiently and safely.
One thing to keep in mind when building furniture is that it can be very time consuming if it consists of large items. We built a 5 door wardrobe recently that took 9 hours. It was a lower end of the market product so assembly was very complicated. By the time added assembly has been added to the cost of the wardrobe, you could have bought a higher quality product with a shorter assembly time for the same money.
Some home stagers use the same furniture & accessories for multiple projects. If this is you then make sure you factor in packing/wrapping. This is most important for accessories and display items like glass and China. We have seen stagers rush this part which breakages then occur and produces a messy stock system. Get your move team to take a couple of hours to wrap everything properly and label boxes. This will keep breakages right down and make stock management much easier for you.
There may be old furniture that needs to be disposed of or taken to charity shops. There may be a mountain of packaging to get rid of. One thing is for sure, there will be a large amount of something to throw away and that has a cost.
Commercial disposals are charged by weight at the dump. It is currently £140 + VAT per tonne for general waste. Mattresses and TVs/Monitors are charged at £50 + VAT each and then there is the labour cost to take it to the dump. So 1 full Luton van load (which is about 1 tonne) Could easily come to £250-£300 + VAT to get rid of. Make sure you think about this when quoting your clients.
The dreaded breakage and insurance claim. There is always that feeling that an insurance company will never pay out right? Not the case. A good moving company will always compensate for breakages that they have caused. With smaller breakages, they will get it repaired or replaced right away without processing it through the insurance company.
If something of high value is damaged and needs replacing it’s important there are valid ‘goods in transit’ insurance in place to pay out. If you are busy working on multiple projects at once there will be 10s if not 100s of thousands of pounds worth of goods being moved over the course of a few months.
Insurance is “replace or repair” based on the value of the item at the time. So if something is 3 years old the insurance company will value it at its second-hand value not the cost of a new one. The insurance company will want original receipts and if it’s a repair they will want repair estimates. The mover should get the repair estimates together for you if they have caused the damage to save you the hassle.
If the answer to the following questions is no then there probably won’t be claimable insurance in place.
- Do they have terms and conditions?
- Did you sign an agreement?
- Have they asked what the value of the load they are moving is?
Small man and van outfits tend not to have their legal ducks in a row when it comes to insurance claims. They will have a goods in transit policy to show you but the insurance company will always refuse the claim because there is no paperwork or terms. A good small man and van company will just pay out to get it repaired or replaced.
If you are working on a project with individual items worth tens of thousands of pounds then do keep in mind that if there is no proper insurance in place it’s unlikely a small company will have £20k to hand over for something. This is why insurance becomes essential.
Get the labour right
Give the moving company as much info as possible about your job and allow them to work out how much labour is needed to get the job done professionally. Getting this wrong can really affect an installation. If you are on the 5th floor without a lift and you only put three people on the job, then the team will get tired, slow down and make mistakes. In the end, this will cost you more.
You don’t want to have the team rushing either. They should work at a steady pace. Their job is quite delicate. If you feel things are not going quick enough, it’s likely that you have not factored in enough labour.
Trying things out
Your moving team is there to move, build and position your vision safely. Try as many things out as you like. Want to see what the whole room looks like with the rug turned the other way after spending 3 hours setting it out, and it’s going to take a half hour to change it around? Do it. Do it and don’t say sorry.
The reason I say don’t say sorry is because it’s something we hear a lot when a stager or interior designer isn’t quite sure about something and wants to alter the look. An installation is a very different process to a domestic move, and a good team will know that and be prepared to move, shift, jig things about, with a smile until it’s just right.
I hope the advice given in this guide was useful and of beneficial value. If you ever have any interior design logistics questions about a project you are working on we are always happy to offer advice free of charge, so give us a call.