The Bekins Blog

How to Choose Between Movers and Brokers

October 27, 2023 | Moving Guides & Tips

When you’re getting ready to move, you may discover that there are a few options for professional moving help. Two of the most common options are moving companies and moving brokers. Although they might look alike at a glance, their roles differ in ways that you should be aware of before you make a decision of which one you’d like to move forward with. 

Understanding the Difference Between Brokers and Movers

Navigating the nuances between moving companies and brokers can be unclear at first glance. Let’s explore their roles and functions to highlight the differences:

The Role of a Moving Company

Moving companies take a hands-on approach, managing the physical aspect of transferring your items from one location to another. They are equipped with moving trucks, professional movers and spearhead the entire relocation process. It’s imperative for interstate movers to register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and have an active U.S. DOT number, ensuring compliance with relocation guidelines and safety standards.

What’s a Moving Broker? 

Moving brokers don’t handle the physical relocation of your possessions. They serve as intermediaries, linking customers with suitable moving companies. Consider them as a liaison that identifies the right moving services for you and then coordinates your move with that company.

Just as with moving companies, brokers need FMCSA registration. But it’s pivotal to note that although they can coordinate the transfer of your household items, they aren’t accountable for the actual transportation. Typically, they don’t operate moving trucks or have a team of movers. 

Challenges of working with a Moving Broker

While there are always challenges in moving, just from the complexity that comes with relocating so many items and the availability of locations and movers, working with a moving broker brings its own challenges, such as your point of contact and the broker’s ability to secure a mover in line with your agreement.

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line with a broker, you’ll be working with a separate company, and the contact you worked with when being sold the move will no longer be able to help you with the logistics of the move or any issues that arise from it. Oftentimes, customers choose a company based on how much they like and trust their moving consultant (contact at the broker or moving company). In the case of working with a broker, customers need to cut out that part of the equation, since that moving consultant won’t be part of the move itself.

A key reason for consumers to choose a broker over a mover is price. In many cases, brokers offer lower estimates than movers. But, just because a broker signs a contract for a low price, that doesn’t mean the broker will be able to find a mover to take on the job at that price point. 

Brokers are very good at search engine optimization, pushing their websites up to the top of results when you search Google or Bing. Since they as a rule do not own their own trucks, though, they are less talented when it comes to guaranteeing you a smooth move.

Tips for Working with a Moving Broker 

Opting to move with a broker? Here are some tips for an experience with less hassle:

  • Confirm FMCSA Registration: Always ensure the broker is registered with the FMCSA. 
  • Assert Your Rights: Make sure the broker hands you a copy of FMCSA’s “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” guide and the “Ready to Move” pamphlet. Providing these resources is required. 
  • Inquire About Moving Company Affiliations: You’re entitled to request and obtain a roster of moving firms the broker is affiliated with. Cross-check the registration of these companies with FMCSA.
  • Demand Formal Agreements and Quotations: Determine if the broker maintains formal contracts with the moving companies they work with. Plus, insist on a written quotation based on the selected mover’s tariff, steering clear of oral price quotes.
  • Scrutinize Promotional Content: Review any promotional materials from the broker, be it advertisements or digital content. By law, these materials should prominently display their office address, U.S. DOT number and explicitly state their capacity as a broker, emphasizing they don’t execute the actual move.
  • Stay Alert to Potential Hitches: Recognize situations where a broker might fall short in securing a mover. Factors like underestimated costs, limited availability or unforeseen challenges might leave you without a mover come moving day. Proactively planning or assessing the broker’s past performance can help avoid such setbacks.

Deciding Your Best Fit: Opting for a Mover or Broker? 

Brokers and moving companies bring their own merits to the table. Understanding their roles and potential risks paves the way for a smooth, stress-free relocation. Remember, being informed is your greatest asset, especially when it’s about safeguarding your valued possessions. If you’re looking for more information about your upcoming move, don’t hesitate to reach out to Bekins Van Lines! We’re happy to answer any questions you may have. 

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