Self Storage or Full Storage, Which is Better?

Generically speaking, there are two storage options: “self-service storage” and “full-service storage”.  One big misconception about these two options is that self-storage is less expensive.  Surprisingly, this is usually not the case; especially for the equivalent of 5 rooms of furniture or less.Self and Full Storage Olympia Moving Washington DC Boston MA

Following are some of the pros and cons of self-storage versus full-service storage:

Full-Service Pros

  • Typically less expensive than self-storage
  • Furniture is professionally loaded into storage
  • Furniture is protected with pad and shrink-wrapping
  • Only authorized personnel are allowed in the facility for security purposes
  • Facility accepts liability for your property

Full-Service Cons:

  • Access is limited to the company’s hours of operation
  • Not a good solution if consistent access is required

Self-Service Pros:

  • No Access Fees
  • No appointments required to access your goods

Self-Service Cons:

  • Cost
  • No liability accepted by facility
  • Must load items into and out of storage without any assistance

To inquire about, or reserve space at one of Olympia’s storage facilities, click HERE.

Renting a Truck

So, you have decided to move yourself in order to save money. Provided that you are comfortable driving a truck through the city streets, and that you have plenty of pizza and beer to “pay” your friends, this can be a cost effective way to move. The following are a few tips and suggestions for “do-it-your-selfers.”

Courtesy of Phil! Gold, Flickr


  1. Before you decide you are going to move yourself, do the math and figure out whether you want to call in those favors from friends and make the commitment in terms of time and aggravation. Remember, this process always takes much longer than you think.
  2. Take the time to fully pack and prepare before the move. Having helped many friends and family members move over the years, I can tell you that nothing is more disheartening than to arrive and discover that nothing is ready.
  3. Don’t throw everything into garbage bags. They do not load into the truck very well and have a tendency to tear. We have some tips on  on how to pack electronics, clothing, and other common items.
  4. Figure out the parking situation for the truck in advance so that you do not have to walk a long distance at either the origin or destination location.
  5. Rent more pads than you think you will need to protect your furniture.
  6. Figure out a truck size that you will feel comfortable to drive (even if it means taking two trips).
  7. When driving a truck, always have someone in the truck with you (remember, there are lots of low bridges and no truck routes – so be careful).
  8. When backing up the truck, ask the person with you to get out and direct you in order to ensure that you do not inadvertently run over anything.
  9. A truck should be loaded in tiers. Heavy items on the bottom (bureaus), then boxes, then loose items.
  10. At the risk of the obvious, common courtesy would suggest that if your friends show up to help you move, you better be prepared when they call to ask you to do the same.

Are you a visual person? We have quite a few videos to help the visual folks learn how to pack some common items.

What is a Moving Broker?

A moving broker, as the name implies, accepts moving leads or booked shipments, and then brokers these shipments to other companies.  These companies are essentially sales organizations and the inherent problem is that they do not have the resources or infrastructure to always live up to their commitments.  Moving brokers have actually significantly damaged the reputation of the industry.  Although conceptually, brokering moves makes sense, the practical application can have disastrous consequences.

WHO IS A MOVING BROKER? A moving broker is anyone who will not actually do the moving for you directly or via their van line affiliation.  It is not always easy to spot a broker given that their names are often designed to confuse the prospect into thinking that they are a legitimate carrier.  In addition, these companies are often very good from a sales and marketing standpoint, and have a tendency to show up on the top of a Google search.  Make sure that you read the fine print, and if you have any doubts, ask whether the person that you received the estimate from is, in fact, a broker.  More useful information is available at the following government website:

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE BROKERS? Theoretically there are no problems, and this is a Moving Trucklegitimate business model.  The practical implication, however, has revealed unscrupulous selling practices and a slew of stranded customers.  These companies make their money by selling your moving services, taking a significant percentage, and then giving your move to a carrier.  Because the cost structure is so low and their reputation so bad, most legitimate movers have no interest in associating with brokers.

WHAT IS BEING DONE ABOUT THIS? The industry has been lobbying for legislation to curtail the activities of moving brokers and rogue moving companies.  In 2011 some legislation passed that will certainly hamper the ability of these companies to operate in the same questionable fashion that they have historically.


Making My Decision Easier

Olympia187To be clear, every moving company is going to be able to show you some positive reviews and, likewise, every moving company is going to have some negative reviews floating around in cyberspace.  This is simply a function of being in a dynamic service industry where it is impossible to satisfy all of the people all of the time.

Here are some tips and resources that might help to clear the fog and narrow down the list of potential service providers for your upcoming move.

REALTOR: If you are using a realtor, ask who they recommend and why.

REFERRAL: Talk to your neighbors and see if they have any suggestions and/or a experience hiring movers that they would be willing to share with you.

BUSINESS LONGEVITY: While longevity does not necessarily directly equate to service excellence, a lengthy track-record is indicative of stability.

FMCSA: Go to and search for the companies that you are considering doing business with (given that moving companies often have similar names, it is preferable to search by the unique DOT or MC number instead of by name).  This search will tell you whether there have been any significant service gaps or violations, and whether the carrier’s credentials, licenses, and insurances are up to date.

WEBSITE: A company’s website is, in part, an advertisement, but it is also where they choose to tell you who they are and what their values are.  Take the time to read through the competing sites and make sure that their message resonates with you.

MOVINGSCAM.COM: Started as a platform to report on negative moving experiences, this site has morphed into a business that accepts advertising dollars.  Having said this, it still has some value.  While one negative review is not necessarily indicative of a company’s overall performance, a pattern of misleading or questionable behaviors is certainly a warning sign.

BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU: While there is no hard and fast rule as to what represents an acceptable performance score, I would suggest that it is not worth hiring movers with a company that maintains anything below a B+ rating.

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES: There are countless review sites including Google, Angie’s List, Consumer Checkbook, Yelp etc.  It is worth reading through these sites to get a flavor for the reputation of the companies with whom you are considering networking.  At the risk of the obvious, I would also tell you that “you can’t trust everything you read on the internet.”  Some sites allow reviews that were obviously produced by the companies themselves, while there are also negative review submitted by and against competing carriers.

GO VISIT THE MOVER: Show up unannounced and take a quick tour of the facility.  What is the condition of the warehouse, trucks, equipment?  Is the staff in uniform?  Is there someone onsite that can answer questions about your relocation?  This is truly the best way to avoid unwanted surprises on moving day.

Warning Signs of Bad Movers

A good move hinges upon communication, preparation, planning and teamwork.  However, it bad movingcan be difficult to sort through the available information, in order to identify these qualities in the companies that are competing for your business.

Following are some tips for separating the best from the rest.

  1. Did the sales representative arrive on time for your in-home appointment, or were you getting excuses right off the bat?
  2. Did the sales representative dress in a respectful manner indicative of the fact that he/she was being invited into your personal domain?  In case there was any doubt, a tank-top does not qualify as respectful.
  3. Were all of your questions answered to your satisfaction?  By the end of the appointment, do you feel that you understood the process?
  4. Once the appointment is finished (but before you commit), try calling the main number and asking for “customer service.”  This can be quite revealing in terms of the level of service you can expect going forward.
  5. Assume that there is a wide degree of variation between movers, and let the company’s representative explain to you what the salient differences are.
  6. Disregard any company that is not interested in reviewing an itemized inventory  list over the phone or in-person.  It is imperative that the moving company understand the scope of the job before accepting your business.  To send 3 movers and a truck to a client’s residence without a detailed understanding of the requirements is a recipe for failure.
  7. If at all possible, make a surprise visit to the company’s warehouse/offices.  Out of all of the suggestions listed above, this will likely be the most illuminating.  Moving is about the details and “getting it right,” and it is amazing the more people do not take the time to properly investigate who will be handling their personal possessions.  A messy warehouse, parking lot or office is a strongly negative indication of performance.  If you feel, in any way, that you are not welcome at the facility, then you should not consider using the services of that company.

Why Do Movers Have Such a Bad Reputation?

Although you could probably write a dissertation on this topic, there are a few basic conditions that have factored into the largely negative reputation that the moving industry currently maintains.

  1. In 1980 the moving industry was deregulated and has suffered from a lack of leadership, performance standards, and self-policing ever since.  There are very few barriers to entry, and enforcement of state and federal regulations has been lax.  This has created a scenario in which the companies that are striving to deliver an exceptional service (like Olympia) are forced to compete against “rogue movers” who do not carry the requisite insurance, have no infrastructure or training protocols, and are simply trying to make as much money as possible before they are eventually shut-down by the authorities.
  2. In the 90’s, the Yellow Pages allowed business owners to delay payment on advertising.  This gave dishonest movers an opportunity to place a full-page advertisement, which they had no intention of ever paying for…but which gave the impression of legitimacy. These same companies would only accept cash, did not carry insurance, and had a lifespan of approximately 18 months.  Essentially these were criminal enterprises masquerading as moving companies.
  3. Good Movers and Bad MoversDespite the plethora of really bad movers, the industry has not been able to effectively communicate what distinguishes a good mover from a bad mover.  If prospective clients are not armed with the information that they need to make an informed decision, then cost becomes the decisive criteria by default.  This scenario creates downward pressure on pricing which, in turn, further impacts service levels.
  4. Moving is an inherently invasive process that makes people anxious.  If expectations are not properly set, or there is poor communication, this anxiety can quickly escalate into panic.  The negative reputation of the industry is, at some level, a self-fulfilling prophesy.  When a mover arrives at a client’s home, trust is not granted on the front-end, but rather must be earned.

The takeaway from the above is that, when selecting a mover, do your homework.  What company you choose to move your personal property is an important decision that should not be taken lightly.  Visit the Moving Resources page on our website to learn more information about choosing a moving company and/or preparing for your upcoming move.

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Moving Tip: Small Shipment Options

A small shipment is sometimes difficult for moving companies to accommodate. On a local move, most companies maintain a minimum number of hours, and on an interstate move, a minimum weight. As logic would suggest, this is simply because many of the underlying costs are fixed; whether you are transporting 300lbs or 1500lbs.

Small Shipment Options

So what are your options if you have only a small shipment?

a) Small Shipment Local Move: On a local move, identify a company (like Olympia Moving) that does not maintain a “minimum” number of hours.Olympia Moving Boston MA Movers Small Shipments
b) Small Shipment on Interstate Move: On an interstate move, generally speaking, the more flexibility that you have in terms of timing, the easier it is for a moving company to make adjustments. The justification is that, if you are able to provide a 2 week window for pickup and a 3 week window for delivery, it will be easier to consolidate your shipment with other comparable loads.
c) Small Shipment Rental Truck: Consider moving these items on your own with a rental truck. Although a big time commitment, this is sometimes the most economical approach.
d) Small Load Specialist: If your shipment is not time sensitive, consider working with a small load specialist. These are companies that have carved out a market niche working exclusively with small shipments. The basic business model is that they pickup your goods and store them until such time as they have enough volume to warrant sending a truck into your market. Provided that there are no firm delivery dates, this is a good option to explore.

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Hiring Packing Services

At Olympia Moving and Storage, we understand that preparation and packing are critical ingredients of a successful move.  To this end, we invest hundreds of hours training our staff on best practices every year.  Whether you require the luxury of a full packing service, or are simply interested in having our team pack some of your fragile items, we are confident that we can address your specific needs.

Full Packing Services

Olympia’s full packing service allows you to focus on the myriad of other details associated with relocating your home.  Our crews work as a team, carefully packing, labeling, disassembling, and preparing each room for moving day.

Partial Packing Services

Partial packing services typically involves Olympia Moving and Storage handling the most fragile items; such as stemware, china and pictures.  We also use this as an opportunity to ensure that your residence is fully prepared so that we can expedite the moving process.

Unpacking Services

There is so much effort and planning that goes into moving, that boxes often are left packed weeks and even months after the move date. Olympia’s unpacking services help you get a jump start on settling into your new home and include box and debris removal.

Benefits of Using Packing and Unpacking Services

Some of the benefits of having Olympia Moving assist you with the packing and unpacking process include:

  • A more efficient (and less costly) relocation based upon the fact that your residence will be fully prepared for the arrival of our moving team.
  • Peace of mind that your belongings will be properly packed and protected.
  • An expedited and consolidated time frame for completion.
  • Minimizing time taken away from work and family.
  • Reducing the stress associated with your move.
  • Ensuring that your boxed items are fully covered from a liability standpoint.
  • Limiting the time in which your household (and lives) are in transition mode.
  • Better organization on the front and back end of the relocation process.

More About Packing and Unpacking Services

For more information about Olympia’s packing services, or to speak with a relocation councilor about your specific needs, please contact Olympia Moving at 800-222-4744 or [email protected].