Moving in the midst of COVID-19

Real Estate

By Connie Adair

Moving is stressful at the best of times, but for residential and business clients who have the added pressure of worrying about COVID-19 and associated restrictions, it can take a toll.

Being able to relate what the moving experience might look like, and how to go about “normal” recommendations such as getting three quotes, can offer some reassurance.As with everything else, the moving experience has changed exponentially. For one thing, the DIY move is no more. With social distancing requirements, people no longer have an option, says John Prittie, president and CEO of Two Men and a Truck Canada.

People would normally set up an appointment for a moving company to do a walk through in order to get an estimate and figure out details such as the number of trucks, movers and time required for the job.

Now, Prittie says his company is doing virtual tours and then creating estimates based on those tours. Even though they are an essential service, their office is closed to walk-in traffic. A sign on the door directs customers to call to order packing supplies and arrange a move. Free deliveries are made to a porch or garage and estimates can be done online.

A couple of days before the move, Two Men and a Truck staff will touch base with the home or business owner to ensure no one in the household has traveled or is in quarantine. The company also asks that only one person be home during the move to make it a mostly contactless experience.

Movers and drivers are checked out before they head out for a job, and they are equipped with face masks. They carry hand sanitizers in their pockets and there are disinfectant wipes in their trucks, Prittie says.

Home and business owners are asked to respect the two-meter social distancing practice, and to make a washroom, along with paper towels and soap, available for movers so they can wash their hands frequently.

Prittie says homeowners should clearly label boxes so movers don’t have to interact with anyone at the new location.

Two Men and A Truck is limiting the number of movers per truck to two and is staggering arrival times for movers/trucks so they don’t overlap. The same two men will work in each truck rather than rotating. Employees are being asked to wash their uniforms every day and to go home right after work and stay there.

When recommending or hiring a mover, Prittie says it’s important to remember all moving companies are not created equal. Some movers may offer a price that seems less expensive, but charge extra for everything, from the number of steps movers have to climb, to surcharges for heavy objects. Look for a company that has a per hour price that’s all inclusive, he says. He also suggests looking for a company that hires, trains and pays benefits to its employees and has appropriate insurance.

To narrow the search for three companies to provide quotes for comparison, he suggests contacting the Canadian Association of Movers for a list of reputable movers.

Larger, more successful moving companies should have online estimate generating systems.

“We have built out our website so people can soft book,” he says. The home or business owner fills out an inventory of everything that needs to be moved and the system will generate a cost and time estimate.”

He says to keep in mind the old saying, “garbage in, garbage out. You have to put in the proper information – make full disclosure – to get an accurate price.”

Along with residential moving, it’s a busy time for small businesses that are moving to new locations, putting their businesses into storage or reconfiguring spaces. So it helps if you hire a full-service moving company that offers storage for businesses that need facilities until they can get back to business. This service is also handy for military personnel redeployed to other areas or overseas, or people who have to move temporarily to smaller quarters to weather the COVID-19 storm.

Two Men and A Truck was founded by Mary Ellen Sheets of Michigan. Her two sons, Jon and Brig Sorber (the stick figures on the well-known logo) drove the first beat-up truck to make money for school, Prittie says. When they returned to college, business kept coming and Sheets hired more people. Now 30 years later it’s one of the largest franchises, with 2,800 trucks in 380 locations worldwide.