There are two main types of companies you’ll encounter in the moving industry: brokers and carriers. It’s important to know the difference in order to understand how the arrangement works, as well as which one you’ve contacted when you’re choosing a moving company. While both play an important role, the services they offer are quite different and knowing how this relationship works will help you to make an informed decision and make sure you’re getting the services you expect from movers.
Simply put, a broker is essentially a middle man in the moving industry. They act as a go between from the customer to the moving company. Now, you may wonder why brokers are part of the equation at all since you can contact a moving company yourself and make arrangements with them. It’s a fair thing to ask and the answer is that not all moving companies have the resources to do the job of the brokers, which is connecting the customer to the companies that provide the services they need. A broker takes your request and finds an appropriate company that offers the specific services you need. Brokers tend to play less of a role in the process if you’re moving locally, but they are more prevalent for long distance and international moves which require more planning and involve more complicated logistics. For example if you’re moving across the country, need short term storage, and also need a car shipped with your belongings, that’s something that not every moving company is capable of handling. A broker, however, will have existing relationships with many moving companies and can present you with several options of companies that can handle such a request.
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A carrier is a company that takes care of the physical act of moving. They are the ones that show up with a truck, provide the labor, and then load and drive your belongings to your new home. They are, for all intents and purposes, what most people think of when they hear the term “moving company.” As we noted above, carriers and brokers have a mutually beneficial relationship in that brokers provide carriers with moving requests that fit their expertise. By the same token, a carrier will provide a small fee to the broker for the business they provide them. If you wish to work directly with a company that only operates as a carrier, you can simply ask them when you contact them if they operate as a broker or carrier.
One wrinkle to this explanation is that some companies operate as both a broker and a carrier. They may handle moving requests that are specific to their area or expertise, and act as a broker with the requests that don’t. There are not a ton of companies that operate this way in the industry, but there are some and they should be forthright with you about how they handle such requests. A common example would be if you contact a local moving company that strictly operates in a given region or state and you need moving services that stretch well beyond that area. If a company operates as both a broker and a carrier, they can find a company that matches with your request and put you in touch with them.