Most moving business owners will need the following equipment and supplies to get started:
The supplies you’ll need to purchase to launch a successful moving business can be split up between the durable goods (the truck, dollies, ramps, etc) and the consumables that are used up during each move (boxes, shrink wrap, tape, etc).
The durable goods are capital expenditures that you’ll need to invest money into to ensure that you have the equipment needed to handle moves of different scales and types. The consumables are usually paid for by the customer and therefore don’t really affect your bottom line.
You will want to pre-purchase these consumables before a move so that you’re well stocked when someone hires you. Charging some sort of markup on these materials is a good idea: at a minimum you’ll want enough of a markup to cover fluctuations in costs to ensure you don’t lose money on the materials. Charging a higher markup is up to you, but striking a balance is key. Customers won’t enjoy feeling taken advantage of. However, most wouldn’t argue paying a bit more for the convenience of having your company purchase all of the necessary supplies.
Sample List of Purchases
A typical person looking to purchase equipment for a moving business might make the following purchases:
Grand Total: $21,010
Picking the right truck is arguably the most important buying decision you’ll make when starting a moving company. We outline the key considerations you’ll need to keep in mind when making this purchase and provide some popular options.
Most new companies purchase used box trucks because they have a significantly lower up front cost compared to buying new. The lower cost means less risk for you in case you decide to go in a different direction with the company. Warranties are commonly purchased for used trucks as well. One important consideration is the vehicle's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) which is basically the maximum loaded weight of the truck. If you purchase a box truck with a GVWR over 26,000 lbs, your drivers will need to have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to operate it. Note that this applies even if you operate the vehicle while loaded with less than 26,000 lbs.
Some moving companies will purchase more than one truck if it’s warranted by the expected demand. If you decide to purchase a single truck to get started, make sure it's large enough to handle the moves you’ll be hired for – you don’t want to lose a job because your box truck was too small.
Many popular box trucks will fall into the two broad categories:
Light Box Truck
- 12-18 ft (typically)
- $25,000 - $45,000
- Sample light-duty truck
Medium Box Truck
- 18-26 ft (typically)
- $35,000 - $70,000
- Sample medium-duty truck
These box trucks have fairly consistent cargo dimensions (around 6.5’ wide and 6’ tall) while the length varies with the type of truck. When choosing a vehicle, the length will be your primary concern. A great starting point to choosing the length you need is by the number of bedrooms you might be moving. Below are some estimates to be used as a starting point:
- 12’ - Studio to 1 bedroom
- 14’ - 1 to 2 bedrooms
- 20’ - 2 to 3 bedrooms
- 26’ - 4 or more bedrooms
Whichever model you purchase, research it extensively so you know exactly what you are buying. Check for recalls, common defects, and long-term reliability ratings. When deciding between vehicles, consider fuel costs in your long-term calculations as well. Your truck will be hauling a lot of cargo on an almost daily basis, so fuel costs can quickly add up. An online fuel calculator can estimate yearly fuel costs for trucks with different MPG ratings to better inform your purchasing decision.
Some popular models of box trucks are listed below. Click the links to view these vehicles that are for sale right now.
You can purchase a used box truck from a variety of places. Companies that manage a fleet of rental vehicles often have a program in place to sell unused box trucks. Several online listing websites connect private sellers with buyers looking for commercial vehicles. Local options include craigslist and newspaper ads.
Whichever route you take, do your research and ensure your investment is worth the money. Many buyers hire a private inspector to look the vehicle over and point out problematic areas. This can inform you of the truck’s condition and also give you some serious negotiating power.
Penske sells used fleet vehicles from many locations around the US and Canada. They have large inventories and can assist buyers with setting up third-party warranties and financing options.
Besides renting cars, Enterprise also sells commercial trucks. They have an online inventory you can search to find exactly what you want.
This company has perhaps the largest selection of used commercial vehicles available. If you don’t want to purchase a high-mileage fleet vehicle, this could be your best option to pick the exact box truck you want.
Buying locally is one of the quickest (and possibly cheapest) options for buying a used box truck. Look online for used car websites, craigslist posts, or local Ebay listings for box trucks that fit your needs.
You can purchase moving supplies from online retailers or brick-and-mortar stores. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Online retailers can offer better selections and sometimes better prices, but most charge for shipping. Local brick-and-mortar stores may have good prices, but travelling to the store and purchasing items frequently can be time consuming.
Whatever option you choose, keep in mind that most moving companies pass the costs on to customers in the form of material expenses.
- Home Depot
- Any packaging supply retailer