To find out how to negotiate the best price for your NYC move -- whether said move is across the street or from one coast to another -- we talked to four experts with decades of experience.
As every single one immediately reminded us (and as we can personally attest), cheapest is not the same as best, especially not when handing over all of your possessions to a total stranger...which is why you should consider only movers who are fully licensed (check with the NY State Department of Transportation) fully insured, have a physical address (not just an online presence) and a solid reputation with former customers with good reviews online.
Once you've found the mover you trust, here's how to get a better price, if not the cheapest:
1. Book early. Just as in the travel industry, early bookings can save money. Avoiding a last-minute rush may give you some leverage according to Matt Schwartzberg, president of A-1 First Class Moving and Storage, an agent for Atlas Van Lines. “Two or three weeks in advance will give the mover the flexibility he needs.” (FYI: Schwartzberg's company just moved Tim Tebow from Denver to NYC).
2. Try to move in the “slow” season. Movers do 50% of their business in the few short months between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That's when schools are out, and academic and corporate transfers are being made.
Therefore, “winter time is the most negotiable time,” says Lior Rachmany, founder and president of Dumbo Moving, “Moving companies are more anxious to book jobs in the colder, slower months.”
3. Be flexible about the day of the month/day of the week you move. Most moves are scheduled for the beginning of the month or the end of the month. Try to avoid those times. Sharone Ben-Harosh, founder of FlatRate Moving and the new on-line booking site Unpakt, suggests moving on a Sunday if you're going into a building without a doorman or one with relaxed rules about move-ins.
Since many buildings prohibit moves on Sundays, that's also the least popular day of the week for moves, which means it'll give you a negotiating advantage.
4. Negotiate on supplies. Here's where movers have the most flexibility. As Kelly Eidson, co-founder of the new- to- the-market start up Moveline explains, "Moving is a low margin service for companies. They can't cut the price too far before losing money or underpaying crews. They can, however, offer extras like free wardrobe boxes or delivering the boxes to your home before the move for free.”
A-1's Schwartzberg agrees that supplies are “the best negotiating spot.” He recommends saving money by asking for boxes that have been gently used or eco-friendly plastic bins.
5. Referrals. Rachmany of Dumbo Moving says that he would consider negotiating a discount with a repeat customer or a referral customer since the company “didn't have to spend money on advertising."
Shleppers Moving and Storage Company even posts a referral offer for clients on its website. Former customers who refer new ones get a commission of 7.5 percent for local and 5 percent for long distance moves. This commission can be passed on to a friend or even donated to a charity of your choice.
6. Emphasize the ease of move. Rachmany says that moves of less than a mile, require no more than one flight of stairs or have no furniture that needs to be taken apart and then put together might give you some bargaining power.
7. Present a lower bid from another mover. This is a method that may or may not work.
Schwartzberg says he's not looking to match another company's price. “My job is to show potential clients why my company is different and better.”
Rachmany, on the other hand, says it's okay to ask for a matching or lower price but, “Be ready to play fair! If you did get a better quote, provide the quote in writing. There are lots of hidden fees in the moving industry and most of the time the lowest quotes actually end up being the most expensive ones.”