The most important aspect of your business, other than sales, will be getting your paperwork in order.
Having and using the proper forms, waivers and paperwork will save you in time, effort and future hassle. Trust me on this.
This chapter alone is worth at least $1000 consulting fee. There are people that charge multiple $1000s for a fraction of what I’m about to share with you.
Here are the key documents that you’ll want and need for your moving company:
- A contract
- Proposal templates (local, long distance, with packing and storage)
- Terms and conditions
- Various waivers
- Credit card authorization
- Bill of lading (BOL)
- Inventory Sheets
Contract is a document that basically closes the job. It basically says that the customer (shipper) agrees to hire you (carrier) do XYZ moving services.
IT explains if the move is bonding, non-binding, or hourly.
It may contain your terms and conditions, but not all contracts do.
Proposal letter is also called the estimate. It is a document that lays out what you are proposing to do for the customer including packing and storage services if needed and requested.
It summarizes the cost for the move including insurance, mileage, packing, fuel charge, additional charges like heavy items or extra stops, and so on.
I’ve found having templates where I can just plug in the numbers is best.
For instance, I would have a template for a local hourly move. One for a local hourly move with packing. A local hourly move with storage. A local hourly move with packing and storage…
You get the picture.
A template for every moving scenario. Have them on your computer so all you have to do is plug in the info and numbers and your good to go.
Terms and conditions is a signed document that lists out what you can and cannot do, and things you won’t do. It should also give good advice for the shipper in various things like packing, etc.
It should also tell the shipper what to expect before, during and after the move.
It should explain how you will do the move and what additional costs may be added.
It should also state what will happen if the they don’t pay in part or in full.
It should also give them the info they need to make a damage or loss claim.
The more thorough you are with your terms and conditions the better protected you will be if something goes sideways.
Waivers are documents that absolve you from potential liability. You’re going to want waivers to protect you.
You should note that sometimes waivers are useless and unactionable. However, just getting the shipper to sign them will prevent them from even thinking about suing you etc.
Some common waivers that you’ll want are:
- Driving on the lawn.
- Unhooking gas, electric or water lines.
- Unpacked TVs, art, or other high value items.
You’ll want waivers for anything that is out of the ordinary that the shipper is asking.
If it could potentially come and bite you in the ass or cost you a lot money you want a waiver that absolves you from liability.
Credit card authorization form is a must. If you don’t take credit cards you are going want to start now. You’re leaving a lot money on the table by not accepting credit cards.
Credit card fraud is common unfortunately. People, even if you do a great job, will sometimes ask their credit card provider for a charge back.
And if you don’t have a credit card form signed and dated by the shipper you probably are going to lose the case.
But, by having the form, if the shipper does try to scam you they’ll lose once you send the signed form in their credit card provider.
This form proves that they gave you permission to charge their card.
Bill of lading aka BOL is arguably the most important document that you need.
If you get pulled over by the police they are going to want to see your BOL. Not all the time but often enough that you’ll want to have one.
A BOL is very similar to the contract. Many newbies actually merge their contract with their BOL.
That’s okay when you’re new and small, but I highly recommend that they are separate documents once you get more established.
Your BOL gives the address your moving from and to. Gives the shipper name, email and phone. It details how many hours you were on the job (if you’re doing hourly) or what the flat rate is. It lists out the quantity of boxes and materials that you used and are charging. It lists any additional charges if there are any.
And so on.
The BOL is also the place where the shipper signs to accept the insurance or take the valuation charges for their stuff. Your contract can do that as well but it has to be on the BOL no matter what.
A BOL is essentially your receipt of services.
Inventory Sheets are vital for your bigger longer distance moves.
If you’re doing a long-distance move, putting stuff into storage, or you have multiple loads on a truck you’re going to want an inventory sheet.
And inventory sheet is often accompanied by was it called colloquially as a “bingo” sheet. Bingo sheets are a grid with a bunch of numbers that corresponds to the numbered item on the inventory.
So as each item comes off the truck the shipper can mark the number on the bingo sheet so they know that they got everything off the truck.
Inventory sheets are good because you can also list any damages that you notice on the item before it is wrapped and loaded. When everything is loaded the shipper signs the inventory.
BY doing this, the shipper can’t come back on you and say you scratched great grandma’s antique footstool.
If you did the inventory correctly that damage was marked beforehand and the shipper signed off it.
A tariff is not something that a shipper has to sign. But it is vital to the legality of your moving business.
Every state is different. They each have their own laws and stipulations. But there is one standard that you have to have if you want to move long distance that is a tariff.
A tariff is a legal document that details your company name, address, phone and principle contact person.
It has to explain what insurance and valuation that you provide, how much you charge for it, and how to make claims against it.
It has to have a complete a detailed procedure on how to make a damage or loss claim, what your mediation program is and how to use it.
It has to list every cost for every service you provide and the materials that you use.
It’s basically your cost menu for your services and materials.
If your customer asks to see this you have to provide it to them.
Many companies post their tariff on their website and provide a link to it in their proposals/contracts etc. That’s fine as long as it is published publicly.
Especially if you’re doing moves across state lines you are not considered licensed and insured without a tariff. It’s a huge fine if you’re caught without one.
The DOT provides a detailed post on how to create your own tariff and what it’s to contain.
You can hire a company to do one for you. Expect it to cost around $800 to $1000 for a tariff to be made for you.
The above were the essential documents that you should have to operate your business.
You should also have these ebooks and documents too:
- Your Rights and Responsibility ebook.
The Rights and Responsibility ebook is something by law that every licensed and insured moving company is to provide the shipper.
You can give it to them physically or you can do what I did which is put a link to in my proposals and terms and condition letters.
While not essential or vital sometimes you may run across something out of the usual that the shipper wants and asks and this is where you’ll want addendums to your contract.
I’ve never ran across this, but I’ve heard from those in my 7 Figure Moving Academy Facebook Membership where they have needed it.
Just keep that in mind.