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What is a Removal Business
Approximately 100,000 UK households move to a new home every month. For an individual or family moving home or a business moving to a new commercial premises, the moving process can be long, stressful and challenging.
A removal business is a company that helps to relieve this stress by handling the moving process. They help to move an individual’s, family’s or company’s possessions from one location to another. Also known as a moving company, a removal business primarily works with people moving to a new residential home or to a new business or commercial premises.
They can be involved in many aspects of the moving process, including:
- Loading the items onto the removal vehicle.
- Temporarily storing the items in a secure location.
- Transporting the items from one location to another.
- Unloading the items from the vehicle and taking them into the new location.
- Reassembling any furniture.
A removal business can handle as much or as little of the moving process as the customer chooses.
Most removal businesses choose to specialise in either residential or commercial customers. Your moving business will typically be made up of a small team of movers (the minimum requirement will be two movers, although a larger team is recommended for bigger properties).
There are two main types of moves you can choose to specialise in:
This is when you move an individual’s or family’s belongings from one home to another. It could include moving items such as indoor and outdoor furniture, household appliances, artwork, musical instruments, carpets, rugs, curtains and personal belongings. Residential removals could work on properties such as apartments, one and two-storey houses, townhouses and mansions.
Commercial customers can include small and large businesses with varying numbers of employees. You can work with smaller businesses that operate from small business premises or larger businesses that have significantly more equipment and furniture to transport.
Some commercial clients that may use your services include:
- Food establishments, such as cafes, restaurants and bars.
- Shops relocating to new premises.
- Hospitality businesses, such as hotels.
- Office-based businesses.
- Schools, nurseries and colleges.
- Clinics, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.
- Industrial businesses, such as warehouses and factories.
As well as moving the equipment and furniture from one location to another, you could also be responsible for removing items from the premises while it undergoes renovation, storing the items and then delivering them back to the location once the renovation is complete.
There are many different responsibilities associated with running a removal business. Although your responsibilities can vary, depending on the type of removal business you set up and the services you offer, some of the typical responsibilities you can expect to be in control of include:
- Responding to all customer enquiries.
- Creating moving schedules.
- Taking an inventory of all items to ensure that no items are lost during transportation.
- Making a record of any existing damage to ensure the damage is not blamed on your business.
- Inspecting the property and the items being moved to create a price estimate and an estimated time frame.
- Estimating costs and creating contracts.
- Purchasing, maintaining and servicing removal tools and equipment
- Handling payments and providing receipts.
- Dismantling larger items and furniture for packing and removal.
- Carrying large and heavy items, such as furniture and household appliances.
- Specialist removal of valuable items, such as pianos, artwork and antiques.
- Carefully packaging the items to protect them from damage.
- Handling fragile, sentimental or valuable items with care.
- Removing doors, door frames and windows to enable you to move larger items in and out of the building.
- Loading items onto your vehicle and securing them safely.
- Lifting carpets and taking down curtains.
- Arranging for items such as rugs and curtains to be cleaned before or after the move.
- Driving the vehicles to the new location.
- Ensuring that no items are damaged while moving.
- Unloading the vehicle and putting the items into the correct room and in the requested position.
- Putting dismantled furniture back together.
- Setting up the new premises in accordance with floor plans and organisational requirements (e.g. setting up an office in line with space requirements and desk allocations).
- Ensuring your business complies with all health and safety regulations and legal guidelines.
- Marketing and advertising.
- Completing business and administrative tasks.
Starting up a removal business can be both financially lucrative and personally rewarding. As well as a strong business plan and a commitment to making your business succeed, there are certain personal qualities that can be beneficial to running a removal business, including being physically fit and able to lift bulky and heavy objects. Good time management skills, a professional attitude and the ability to communicate effectively with your customers are also recommended.
Types of Customers
The types of customers who use the services of a removal business can be wide-ranging and can include any individual who is moving home and any business that is moving location.
Some of the customers that could use the services of a removal business include:
- Residential customers.
- Businesses moving to a new commercial premises.
- Businesses who are renovating their existing premises.
- Public sector organisations, such as schools, colleges and hospitals.
- Other removal businesses that contract the work out to your company.
However, defining your target market more precisely makes it easier to focus on the specific customers who are most likely to pay for your services and determine exactly where and how to market your business. Certain factors can affect the types of customers that are most likely to use your removal services, for example:
The type of removals you specialise in
This is one of the major factors in determining your typical customer base. You could specialise in:
- Residential moves.
- Commercial moves.
- Small-scale moves (e.g. smaller properties).
- Large-scale moves (e.g. larger properties).
- Local moves.
- Long-distance moves.
- International moves.
The location you operate in
This is another important factor in determining your typical customer base. The majority of people will look for a moving company that is conveniently located to their home, particularly if you need to do an in-person consultation or look at their belongings before providing a price. Consider the areas that are convenient for you and how this could impact your typical customer base.
Although removal businesses can generally charge a high price for their services, your pricing can still influence your typical customer base.
Customers can typically be separated into different pricing tiers:
- Budget: Price is the most important factor for this type of client. They will look for the removal company with the lowest rates, regardless of reputation and experience.
- Mid-range: This type of client is looking for a combination of quality and affordability. Although price won’t be the most important factor, it will be a significant consideration.
- High-end: This type of client is willing to pay the highest prices for the best possible service. They will likely want additional services, such as packing, assembling furniture and transporting delicate items. They are more likely to look at your qualifications, skills and experience when considering choosing your business.
Your reputation and customer reviews
This is another important factor that many people will look at. They may look at your customer reviews or decide based on recommendations.
Your reputation and reviews will likely be based on multiple factors, such as:
- How you interacted and communicated with clients.
- How long a job took and whether you adhered to the agreed-upon time frame.
- Your pricing.
- The quality of your work (e.g. how well you reassembled the furniture).
Equipment You Will Need
Equipment is an essential purchase, as without it you will not be able to run your business. The type and amount of equipment you require will depend on the type of moving you specialise in and the scale of the moves.
Below is a list of equipment typically required by a removal business.
Your vehicles will be your most important purchase. Depending on the size and scale of the moves and the number of moves you want to work on at one time, you may require multiple moving vehicles. You could opt for large removal vans or choose lorries. To help your business gain exposure, you should also install adhesive door and body panels with your business name and logo, your contact information and the typical removal services you offer.
Satellite navigation system
Satellite navigation may be installed in your vehicles or may be an independent piece of equipment. Alternatively, you could choose to use your mobile phone’s navigation system. A navigation system is essential, as it ensures you always follow the best possible route and avoid any traffic or road incidents that could cause unnecessary delays. A satnav system is particularly recommended if you offer long-distance removals, as you will likely not be familiar with the routes and the areas.
A mobile phone mount
If you use your phone for navigation, you will need a mobile phone mount. This could either be a windscreen mount or a dashboard mount. This gives you hands-free access to your phone and allows you to view your maps and navigation without picking up your phone.
Dash cams document your driving and are the strongest and most efficient way of defending yourself in the event of an accident or incident on the road. Dash cams can also help to deter theft and lower your car insurance premiums, helping to protect your business and maximise your profits. Dash cams can be installed on the front and back of your vehicles.
A moving dolly is a type of platform on wheels that is used for transporting large and heavy items, such as furniture and appliances.
There are different types of moving dollies to choose from:
- Furniture dollies: These are sturdy square or rectangular-shaped dollies with four wheels. They are flat, allowing you to place furniture of different sizes on top.
- Appliance dollies: These are recommended for transporting large and heavy household appliances, such as washing machines, tumble dryers, refrigerators, freezers and ovens.
- Stair dollies: Also known as stair climbing hand trucks, these are specially designed for transporting items up and down stairs. They feature a unique wheel configuration that enables them to easily move up and down stairs safely, while also keeping the load secure.
This is another type of equipment that is used for transporting items from the premises to the vehicle. It has an L-shaped design with a small footing ledge, two wheels and a handle. They are recommended for transporting smaller items or for transporting stacks of boxes.
These are used for transporting heavy and bulky items from the property to the vehicle. They are large platforms with four wheels and a strong handle. They often come with removable sides, allowing you to transport larger, bulkier items.
Also known as furniture gliders, these are small pieces of hard plastic or rubber that are topped with a foam or cushioned material. They also often have a felt bottom. The sliders are placed underneath the furniture or the furniture legs and help you to slide the furniture across the floor without scratching or damaging the floor. They also help to minimise the effort it takes to move heavy furniture and minimises the risk of injury.
Moving straps and ropes
These are essential items for any removal business. You can use them to secure any items to your moving dolly or platform cart, as well as to secure any furniture, appliances or boxes in your removal van to prevent them from moving around when you are driving. You will likely need different straps and ropes for different tasks.
Some of the moving straps and ropes you could choose include:
- Shoulder dollies.
- Forearm moving straps.
- Elastic straps..
- Ratchet straps.
- Ratchet straps with e-tracks.
- Nylon ropes.
- Twisted polypropylene ropes.
Moving blankets are large coverings made from a heavy-duty, durable fabric that are used to protect furniture, appliances, fragile belongings and other items during transportation. They are designed to absorb shock and provide cushioning to the items. You will wrap the items in the blanket and secure them in place before putting the items into your removal vehicle. The blankets can prevent the items from becoming dented or scratched and can protect them from dust and dirt.
A tarpaulin has the same function as moving blankets but is used for outdoor furniture instead of indoor items. It can help to protect outdoor items and prevent dirt, insects and other items that are typically found on outdoor furniture from transferring to the other items you are transporting or from transferring to your hands or clothes or the inside of your vehicle.
Heavy-duty work gloves are necessary for protecting your hands and fingers from cuts, scrapes and scratches and to reduce the pressure on your hands. Protective gloves will also enhance your grip, making it less likely that you will drop any of the items you are carrying.
A tape measure
A tape measure is useful for checking the dimensions of large furniture, such as beds and couches, and measuring doorways and windows to see if the items will fit or whether you’ll need to remove the doors, doorframes or windows. Choose a durable tape measure that extends to a large size and locks into place.
A toolbox is a useful piece of equipment to keep in your vehicle. You never know when a toolbox can help to make the removal process easier, for example, when dismantling furniture, removing artwork from the wall and removing doors to fit large furniture through.
Some of the items you may need in your toolbox include:
- Multi-bit screwdrivers: If you offer additional services, such as assembling furniture, you will need screwdrivers. Screwdrivers are also necessary for dismantling furniture, which you may need to do if you are transporting larger furniture, such as bed frames and cabinets. A multi-bit screwdriver comes with an assortment of tip sizes and styles to allow you to tighten and loosen a variety of different applications.
- A wrench or pliers: Another tool that is necessary for dismantling furniture is a wrench or pliers. They can be used to loosen fasteners, such as bolts and nuts, without causing any damage to the furniture or stripping the fasteners.
- Scissors or box cutters: These are useful for cutting packaging tape and opening boxes. If your business offers a packing or unpacking service, you will need strong pairs of scissors or a box cutter to help you with these processes.
- Torches: You may find that you are moving items into your customer’s new property and they don’t yet have light bulbs installed. Although the majority of your removals will be done during the day, heavy-duty, bright torches can help to ensure good illumination in an environment with poor light.
If you offer a packing service, you will need strong, sturdy boxes of different sizes that are designed to handle heavy loads. You may opt for reusable boxes that you can use again and again or choose strong cardboard boxes that are used for individual moves. Ensure the boxes have a secure lid or can be taped shut using packaging tape.
Packing peanuts, Styrofoam inserts or bubble wrap
These items keep the contents of the boxes securely in place and reduce the likelihood of any damage occurring. To ensure your business operates more sustainably, you can opt for paper bubble wrap instead of traditional bubble wrap.
Even if your customers pack their own boxes, it is still recommended that you keep rolls of packaging tape in your van in case the lids of any boxes open or any of the boxes rip. Choose strong, wide packaging tape to ensure it sticks securely to the boxes.
A label maker
Some clients may label their boxes to make the move easier, but many will not. A label maker allows you to add labels to boxes and other items, so you know what the contents are and which room they need to be unloaded into. A label maker can be particularly useful if your business is handling multiple aspects of the move, e.g. packing and unpacking.
A website is useful for advertising your business and will likely act as your primary advertising strategy. Your website should list the types of services you offer, descriptions and photographs of your previous jobs, the areas and locations you operate in and your contact information. Design your website to include your business logo and to reflect your branding.
Software can have a variety of uses, including:
- Scheduling jobs.
- Organising and managing daily operations.
- Creating, tracking and sending invoices.
- Managing payments.
- Accessing customer information.
- As a payroll tool.
Depending on the business software you opt for, you could also have tools for increasing your revenue, including booking tools and marketing tools. Many types of business software come with a mobile application for easy access on the go.
A computer or laptop
If you run your business online or plan to advertise your services online, a computer or laptop is essential. You can use your computer for advertising, creating appointments, ordering equipment, running your business website and social media, and handling any business and administrative tasks.
A business phone
A business phone will enable you to communicate with your clients and be contacted by potential clients. Your business phone number should be advertised on your website and any leaflets or business cards you use.
A payment system
The type of payment system you require will depend on your primary payment strategy. For example, if you accept in-person sales, you will likely require a transportable Point of Sale (POS) system (e.g. a card machine) and a cash collecting system. If you accept online payments, you may require an online payment system or a way to track payments to your business bank account.
Business cards and appointment cards
Business cards can be used for advertisement purposes and handed out to customers and potential customers. The business cards should include your business name and logo, the services you offer, your location and your contact information. Your appointment cards should be designed in a similar way to your business cards but should feature a space for you to write the date and time of the appointment.
A transportable fully stocked first aid kit
Accidents and injuries can easily occur in this type of industry as you will be dealing with heavy items and potentially dangerous equipment. Some injuries will be minor and can be treated onsite. Others may require medical intervention but initial treatment using items in a first aid kit can reduce the severity of the injury. Ensure your first aid kit is stocked with items to treat cuts, scrapes and sprains.
You will need to clean your removal vehicles between every job. This not only ensures your business operates hygienically but can also prevent any dust or dirt from transferring onto your customers’ items. Some of the cleaning materials you may need to invest in are cloths, sponges, antibacterial surface cleaners, bleach, sanitiser and a vacuum cleaner.
When you are creating your business plan, an important consideration you will need to make is your expected start-up costs and running costs. Calculating your expected costs allows you to determine your initial investment requirements, your pricing strategy and your profit goals.
There are multiple costs associated with setting up and running a removal business. Some of these costs will be one-off initial costs that you will need to pay when you are setting up your business. Other costs will be ongoing costs you will need to pay regularly – usually weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually.
Although the costs can vary depending on the type of removal business you set up, some of the typical costs you can expect are:
Your vehicles will likely be your biggest expenditure when setting up your business. Vans will likely be the most convenient type of vehicle for your business. The price of a van can vary significantly, depending on the make and model, the size and whether it is new or second-hand. Keep in mind that if you work on multiple jobs at the same time, you may require multiple vehicles. The cost of a van can begin at £5,000 (for a second-hand vehicle). For a new van, expect to pay at least £30,000. Alternatively, you could opt to purchase moving lorries. Lorries can be advantageous for the removal of large properties or for commercial removals. Lorries typically cost between £30,000 and £100,000.
Vehicle running costs
Your vehicle running costs include your vehicle insurance, fuel, MOT, services and the costs of any repairs. These costs can vary significantly, depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, the level of insurance you choose and the amount of travel you need to do. Typically, you can expect to pay between £100 and £1,000 per month, depending on your mileage.
Your equipment is another major expenditure when setting up your business. Your equipment costs can vary, depending on the type of services you offer your clients and how much equipment you require. To reduce your start-up costs, you could buy only essential equipment initially and then purchase more equipment as your business grows. You can expect to spend between £2,000 and £30,000 on equipment.
Maintaining, repairing and replacing equipment
Repairs, maintenance and replacements are ongoing costs you will need to factor into your budget. Although some of your equipment will come with warranties or guarantees, repairs and replacements are inevitable because much of your equipment will experience heavy usage. Correctly cleaning and maintaining equipment and ensuring it is used correctly can extend its life, but potential repairs and replacements should still be factored into your budget. You will also need to take into account the cost of replenishing equipment such as packaging materials and cleaning materials.
Operating a removal business without staff will be extremely difficult. You will likely need to hire at least one employee (as large or heavy items will need at least two people to move them), although you may choose to hire more to enable you to handle larger moves. You will need to pay your employees at least the national minimum wage. You will also need to account for other expenses such as holiday pay, sick pay, maternity/paternity pay, National Insurance and any company pension contributions.
Your business website
Your business website will act as your primary advertising and marketing tool, allowing potential customers to find your business online. Your website should be functional, easy to use, attractive and search engine optimised, to ensure it ranks highly on search engines, such as Google. Your website will need regular monitoring, updating and upgrading. You also need to make sure your website is secure, particularly if you will be collecting any customer information. You may choose to set up and run your website yourself or hire someone to do this for you. You can expect to pay between £20 and £100 per hour for someone to set up and run your website.
When creating your brand identity, consider how you want your business to be perceived by potential customers. When creating your brand, consider the type of removal services you offer and your typical customer base. Branding can include creating your business’s visual identity, design and aesthetic, your business name and logo and your website. You could hire a professional to help you with branding or do some or all of the work yourself. Branding can cost between £500 and £10,000, depending on the level of work required.
Ongoing advertising costs
Because the majority of your business will come from new customers, you will need to consistently market and advertise your business. To ensure your removal business attracts customers and creates maximum profits, you will need to spend money on advertising and marketing. It is recommended that you spend between 1% and 3% of your annual turnover on marketing. For example, if your annual turnover (or your desired annual turnover) is £100,000, you should spend between £1,000 and £3,000 on advertising and marketing.
You may need to invest more money when you initially set up your business or when you are trying to grow your business. To reduce your costs, capitalise on free marketing strategies, such as on social media or in your local community. You can also advertise on your removal vehicle, and through leaflets, posters and business cards.
There are several types of coverage you could choose for your removal business. Prices can vary depending on your insurance provider and the level of coverage you choose.
Business insurance typically chosen by removal businesses includes:
- Public Liability Insurance.
- Employers’ Liability Insurance.
- Goods in Transit Insurance.
- International Removals Insurance (if relevant).
- Storage Insurance (if relevant).
- Tools and Business Equipment Cover.
- Personal Accident.
- Legal Expenses.
- Business Interruption Insurance.
Insurance costs can vary, depending on your insurance provider and the level of coverage you require. Prices typically start at £10 per month.
Typical Pricing for Customers
Once you have calculated the expected costs associated with setting up and running your removal business, you can then determine your pricing.
There are multiple factors that can impact your pricing strategy, including:
- The size of the job, e.g. the amount of equipment, furniture and other items you are transporting.
- How long it will take you to load and unload the items from the delivery vehicle.
- Whether you are packing the items.
- How many vehicles are required.
- How many employees are required.
- The distance you will be travelling and the associated petrol costs.
- The total time required to complete the job.
- Whether you store the items or offer any other additional services, such as specialist removal of delicate or valuable items.
- The type of client (commercial removal is typically more expensive than residential removal).
- The costs associated with the job and your acceptable profit margin.
To give the customer an accurate quote, you will likely need to visit their premises to assess the type of removal you will be engaging in. You can choose to charge per hour or per job.
On average, residential customers in the UK pay between £450 (for a small property moving locally) to £1,500 (for a larger property with more items moving a long distance). Commercial businesses can expect to pay significantly more.
Safely Running a Removal Business
Safe practices in your removal business can help to protect the health and safety of you, your employees and your customers, as well as protect the items you are moving.
Some ways you can safely run your removal business include:
Manage safety on the road
You are responsible for managing road safety hazards. You must ensure safe driving at all times, for example:
- Always adhere to speed limits.
- Anticipate any hazards and be prepared for how to deal with them.
- Don’t use your mobile phone while driving.
- Don’t drive distracted.
- Take the appropriate number of breaks.
- Approach zebra crossings correctly.
- Respect cyclists.
Health and safety training
Health and safety training courses can teach you how to follow safe practices in your business.
Some training courses you could opt for include:
- Manual Handling.
- Workplace First Aid.
- Working at Height.
- Assessing Risk.
- Health and Safety Level 2.
Properly maintain and set up equipment
Any equipment you use must be properly maintained, correctly set up and safe to use. You must protect yourself and your employees from accidents or injuries caused by equipment. You should also perform regular equipment inspections to ensure your equipment’s safety and help extend the lifespan of your equipment. Maintenance includes regularly checking for faults, regular cleaning and ensuring equipment is functioning correctly.
Protect you and your employees from abuse or violence
Removal personnel can be in a vulnerable position as they enter their customers’ homes for extended periods. Additionally, moving home or business premises can be a stressful situation for many people and can result in heightened emotions.
Consider ways you can protect yourself and your employees from abuse or violence, for example:
- Install dashboard cameras in your vehicles.
- Have an emergency plan in place.
- Stop moving the items if you have any doubts about your safety.
- Carry a minimal amount of cash with you at one time and keep any cash hidden away.
- Make sure your location can be tracked or that someone knows where you are.
- Record any incidents of abuse, assault or crime and report these to the police.
- Don’t fight back if you are threatened.
- Do not volunteer any personal information to your customers.
Carry out risk assessments
Risk assessments are a legal requirement for businesses with more than five employees. However, even if your business has fewer than five employees, risk assessments are still recommended to ensure the safety of you, your staff and your customers. Risk assessments can help you to identify any potential hazards and risks in your business and how these can be reduced or eliminated.
As part of your risk assessment, you should:
- Identify hazards.
- Determine who could be at risk.
- Evaluate any potential risks.
- Implement relevant safety measures.
- Record the results of the risk assessment.
- Review the risk assessment regularly.
Use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
PPE can help to protect you and your employees from obtaining an injury at work. Some of the PPE you may require includes heavy-duty gloves, face masks (e.g. if working in dusty environments) and steel toe-capped boots.
Keep a fully stocked first aid kit
If someone has an accident or sustains a minor injury, it may not be serious enough to warrant medical intervention. Instead, you may be able to offer treatment yourself. Having a first aid kit that is checked and replenished regularly and is transportable and easily accessible is recommended.
Implement cleaning policies and procedures
Strict cleaning procedures must be in place in your vehicles. This includes cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising all surfaces. You should clean after every job and clean the driver and passenger areas of your vehicle every time they are being used by a different employee.
Complying with legal requirements is essential when setting up and running a removal business. Failure to comply with legal requirements could not only result in an accident or injury, but you could also face consequences such as a warning, a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious circumstances, prosecution.
The legal requirements you will need to comply with will depend on the type, size and weight of the vehicle you drive, where you will be transporting goods to and the amount of time you or your employees spend driving each day and week.
This means that not all of the legal requirements listed below will be relevant to your business.
However, some of the legal guidelines you should be aware of include:
Comply with the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995
Under this Act, you will need to apply for the appropriate licence from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). You will need a licence if your vehicle has an unladen weight of 1,525 kg or more or a gross plated weight of more than 3,500 kg. There are two different types of licences, depending on the types of removals you do.
- Standard National Licence: To carry goods within the UK.
- Standard International Licence: To carry goods in the UK and on international journeys.
When applying for your licence, you will need to advertise your application, advertise your proposed operating centre (where your vehicles are usually kept when not in use) and nominate a transport manager.
You will also need to pay:
- A one-off application fee (£257).
- An issue of licence fee (£401).
- A fee for the continuation of your licence after 5 years (£401).
Apply for an international road haulage removal permit
If you offer international removals to countries that are members of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT), you will need to apply for a permit. You will need this permit if you transport items or drive empty vehicles through certain countries.
Appoint a transport manager
As part of your licence regulations, you will need to appoint a transport manager.
A transport manager is responsible for:
- Ensuring all drivers have a valid licence.
- Ensuring all vehicles are taxed and insured.
- Ensuring all vehicles have a valid MOT and are properly maintained.
- Ensuring all vehicles are loaded safely and are not overloaded.
- Ensuring drivers do not speed.
- Ensuring drivers do not break the drivers’ hours rules.
- Ensuring the vehicle operators do not break safety rules.
To become a transport manager, you will need to obtain a Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) qualification.
Comply with the drivers’ hours rules
The GB domestic drivers’ hours rules apply to anyone who drives a goods vehicle.
You will need to comply with the guidelines regarding:
- Daily driving limits: You cannot drive for more than 10 hours per day.
- Daily duty limits: You cannot be on duty for more than 11 hours in a working day. You must also ensure you take appropriate breaks when driving and comply with fortnightly rest periods.
As the business owner, you are required to:
- Keep accurate records of your drivers’ hours records for a minimum of one year.
- Ensure all drivers are properly trained and understand regulations.
- Organise your drivers’ time to enable them to follow the regulations.
- Check your drivers’ hours records.
- Monitor your drivers’ working times.
Maintain your vehicles
As the business owner, you are required to keep all vehicles safe and in good working condition at all times. You can carry out your own inspections and maintenance or hire a maintenance contractor to do this work for you. If your hire a maintenance contractor, you will need to provide the Traffic Commissioner with a copy of your contract.
If you perform maintenance checks and safety inspections yourself, you will need to keep accurate records of:
- The vehicle details.
- A list of the parts inspected.
- When the inspection was carried out.
- Who completed the inspection.
- The results of the inspection.
- Details of any work carried out.
- A declaration that all defects were properly fixed.
At the start of each working day, you must also ensure all drivers conduct a walkaround check to ensure their vehicle is safe to drive.
Ensure lorry drivers have a HGV licence
If you opt for lorries to transport your customers’ goods, you will need to ensure your drivers hold a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) licence. To apply for this licence, they will need to obtain a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). Contact the Traffic Commissioner to determine whether you or your employees require this licence.
Comply with the Work at Height Regulations (2005)
The Work at Height Regulations are designed to prevent death or injury caused by a fall from height. If you are ever working above ground level, for example on a ladder when removing a window or when climbing into the back of your vehicle (if it is raised), you will be classed as working at height. Working at height incorrectly can result in serious injury and even death, so you will need to ensure your business complies with the regulations at all times, for example:
- Avoid working at height where possible.
- Minimise the distance and consequences of a fall.
- Ensure any work at height is properly planned and supervised and carried out by competent people.
- Ensure you use the correct equipment when working at height.
Comply with the Consumer Rights Act 2015
The Consumer Rights Act is designed to protect customers from substandard work and overpriced services. It covers the selling, terms and condition and supply of services (including removals) to ensure consumers are better informed and more well-protected. Under this Act, services must be carried out with reasonable care and skill, within a reasonable time and at a reasonable cost.
Your customers, therefore, have the right to:
- Request that substandard work is redone or receive a price reduction, e.g. if the furniture was not assembled correctly or if time frames were not met.
- Challenge unfair small-print terms, conditions and costs.
- Make a claim against you if any of their items are damaged during the move.
Comply with laws regarding bailment or custody
Bailment (England and Wales) or custody (Scotland) refers to situations where items are physically transferred from the owner to someone else for a specific purpose. Under these circumstances, as a removal business, you are legally responsible for any damage done to property while it is in your possession. If damage occurs (particularly if reasonable care was not taken), you will be given the chance to fix it. Failure to fix the damage then gives the customer the right to take legal action.
Comply with London’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) regulations
If you operate within London or transport any items to properties in London from other areas of the UK, you will need to comply with the LEZ regulations. This includes paying a daily charge if your vehicle does not meet the LEZ emission standards. If your vehicle weighs more than 3.5 tonnes (3,500 kg), you must ensure the vehicle is fitted with safety mirrors and side guards to protect cyclists and pedestrians.
Comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) 1998
PUWER regulations apply to you and any employees you hire. You must ensure any equipment is fit for purpose and is maintained and inspected regularly. You must also ensure that health and safety risks are minimised to an acceptable level, that you have the correct knowledge and training to use the equipment, and that protective measures are put into place. You must also ensure the equipment is used under appropriate conditions.
Comply with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013
RIDDOR states that you must report all injuries, diseases and dangerous events that occur in your business. Reports must be made to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) using an appropriate recording document. As injuries may be more likely in a removals business, because you will be working with potentially dangerous equipment and large and heavy items, appropriate recording can help you to recognise any mistakes or patterns and prevent future injuries.
Comply with the Manual Handling Regulations (1992)
Manual handling is an inevitable part of the removal industry. You will be handling heavy equipment, carrying waste, bending down and reaching high and using repetitive movements, all of which could result in pain or injury. Following manual handling regulations can help to protect you and your employees from sustaining an injury or illness as a result of manual handling tasks. Much of the work you do in your business will involve manual handling (e.g. moving or lifting furniture and boxes and handling equipment). It is therefore imperative that you follow manual handling regulations properly.
Comply with invoice or receipt guidelines
You may make it standard that you send all of your clients a receipt or invoice once they make a payment to your business. Even if you don’t make it standard, some clients will request receipts or invoices.
You must include certain information in any invoices you create, such as:
- The word ‘invoice’ and a unique invoice number.
- Your business name and address.
- The client’s name and address.
- A brief description of your work.
- The total you are charging the client and when the payment is due.
- The payment method.
Prepare a health and safety policy
The law states that every business in the UK must have a specific policy for managing health and safety. Your policy should state exactly how you will manage health and safety in your business, who is responsible for specific tasks and how and when these tasks are completed.
Appoint a competent person
A competent person should be appointed to help your business meet your health and safety legal duties. You can act in this role yourself or appoint another person to fulfil this role. The competent person should have the skills, knowledge and experience to identify any hazards in your business and put controls in place to protect people from harm.
Comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA)
You must comply with both pieces of legislation when storing or sharing personal information, such as your customers’ personal information, contact details and banking information. You must also apply for a Notification to Process Personal Data Licence. If you process or store personal information such as personal details and banking information, you will need to apply for a licence with the Information Commissioner’s Office and renew your registration every year.
Comply with employment legislation
You must ensure you follow employment legislation, including the Employment Rights Act (1996) and the National Minimum Wage Act (1998). You must also comply with legislation relating to recruitment, working hours, sickness, discrimination, dismissals, and maternity or paternity pay.
Ensure your website complies with the guidelines
If you set up a business website, there are several guidelines you need to comply with, including:
- Privacy policies.
- Cookie legislation.
- Service descriptions.
Under the Equality Act (2010) you must also make reasonable adjustments to your website to ensure it is accessible to people with disabilities.
Comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (1992)
Under these regulations, if your business has five or more employees you must ensure you conduct appropriate risk assessments, minimise any risks and maintain all equipment. You must also make sure high levels of cleanliness are maintained.
Register your business
You must register your business with HMRC before you begin operating. You can register as a sole trader or as a limited company. You will need to register your business name and any other relevant information.
Register for self-assessment tax
This allows you to calculate and pay your own taxes each year. You will need to track your finances every month and submit any expenses as part of your tax assessment.
As part of your tax responsibilities, you must:
- Record all forms of income and expenses.
- Complete an annual self-assessment tax return.
- Register for VAT if you earn above the threshold (currently £85,000).
- Pay National Insurance contributions.
- Keep a record of your business accounts for the previous five years.
Positives of Owning a Removal Business
Running a removal business can be rewarding in many ways.
Some of the main pros associated with this type of business include:
With more than a million people moving to a new residential or commercial property every year, demand is consistently high for removal businesses. You will have consistently new business and the opportunity to grow your business. High demand for your services makes it more likely that your business will succeed and allows you to charge higher prices.
Removal businesses typically have a high income. The demand for your services, the specialist equipment you use and the time required for each job results in you generally being well paid. Because you will have few ongoing or overhead costs, you have the potential to earn a high profit margin. Because you can charge high prices for each move, you have the opportunity to make a significant profit.
Constantly on the move
For people who don’t want to sit in the same office all day every day, working as a mover can be very rewarding. You will constantly be travelling as part of your job, visiting new areas, working in different types of properties and driving to new locations. Working in different places every day can keep your work varied and stop you from getting bored.
Physical health benefits
Movers are very physically active. You will be on your feet for a lot of the day, carrying heavy loads and exercising as you go. A moving business is a highly active profession that can result in many physical health benefits, including:
- Maintaining good physical fitness.
- Good upper body strength.
- Good cardiac health.
Choose the type of removals you want to specialise in
As the business owner, you will have complete control over the type of removals business you set up and the type of moving you want to specialise in. For example, you can choose commercial removals, residential removals, long-distance removals or large property removals. You can also choose which additional or specialist services you want to offer. You can make the best decisions for you and your business, based on what is most likely to be profitable and your business preferences.
As the business owner, you will have the flexibility to choose the jobs you accept, the days you work and your working hours. You can turn down jobs if you don’t want to work and will have the freedom to work around your lifestyle. You can choose whether to work weekdays or weekends and run your business around your personal life. As your business grows and you hire more movers, you could also choose to take a step back and hand over a lot of the day-to-day responsibilities.
Work as part of a team
A removals business cannot be a one-person job. Instead, you will be working with a small team of employees (chosen by you). To complete the moves successfully, you will need to have good communication skills and a level of trust between everyone on your team. Working in a team with people you trust can be enjoyable and help your business to operate more successfully.
Working in the removal industry, you won’t be sitting around staring at a computer screen all day. You’ll be active for a lot of the day, involved in different tasks, moving items, driving your vehicle and talking to your customers. Your workday will be both active and varied, which is great for people who don’t want a traditional job.
Opportunities for small businesses
Unlike many other industries, the removal industry is not dominated by major companies or popular franchises. The majority of moving companies are small, independent businesses that operate in the local community. This results in more opportunities for small businesses and opens up gaps in the market for new businesses to succeed.
Opportunities for growth
A removal business has high scalability, meaning that it has the opportunity and capacity to expand and grow easily. Once your original business plan succeeds, you can grow your business, for example by hiring more movers and expanding your customer reach. You will already have positive relationships with your customers and can utilise these relationships to help you grow your business with minimal stress.
Unlimited income potential
The more experience and exposure you gain, the more successful your business will be. As your business grows and you develop a good reputation, you will see your profits grow. You can even charge higher prices and hire more movers and expand your business to increase your profits. A removal business can have a high income and your profit margins are likely to be high. With a good business plan and strategy for growth, your business could have unlimited income potential.
Easy to get started
A removal business has a simple business model that makes it easy for you to set up and expand your business. You can initially set up a small business with few equipment requirements (as long as you have at least one van) and low start-up costs. Low initial investment requirements make it easier to set up your business and make your business lower risk. There are also no qualification or training requirements, meaning anyone can become a mover.
Be your own boss
There are multiple ways you can run your business and maximise your profits. As the business owner you decide the type of removal business you set up. You can choose the employees you hire, choose the customers and jobs you accept, choose whether to expand your business and decide exactly how to run your business. You can make the best decisions for you and your business.
Negatives of Owning a Removal Business
Although owning a removal business can be rewarding in many ways, there are some potentially negative aspects to this type of business that you should be aware of, for example:
Travelling long distances
If you offer long-distance removals you could be driving for hours every day and every week. Many people think driving is easy, as you are sitting down for much of the day.
However, there are some health concerns related to driving for much of the day, such as:
- Back pain and strain.
- Reduced cardiovascular fitness.
- Muscle strain and joint stiffness.
- Eye strain.
- A rise in blood sugar.
- A rise in cholesterol.
- A rise in blood pressure.
Long and irregular hours
Many movers don’t work a typical 9-5, Monday to Friday. Instead, they may have to be available to work evenings and weekends, when their customers are moving. Your working hours can also be long, particularly if it is a large-scale move, you offer additional services (such as packing) or the move is long-distance. This can be physically and emotionally demanding. Long, irregular hours can have a negative impact on your health and your personal life.
Handling moves every day can be extremely physically demanding and can take a toll on your body. Your job involves high levels of manual handling, and you will be on your feet for a lot of the day, handling bulky or heavy equipment and large loads and potentially working at height. This can be physically demanding on your body and result in pain, strain or injury.
No matter how careful you are, there is a multitude of potential hazards and dangers when working as a mover. From potentially dangerous equipment and working conditions to the risks associated with working at height and moving and carrying heavy items, working as a mover could result in injuries, illnesses, pain and strain.
A moving business can have high liability. If an employee, customer or a member of the public becomes injured (particularly if the injury occurs during a high-risk task, when using potentially dangerous equipment or because of the ongoing work your business is doing), your business may be held liable.
Working in cold or dusty environments
This is something that many people do not consider when they are entering the moving industry. You will be moving furniture and appliances which may disturb dirt and dust. You could also be moving your customer’s belongings into new properties that have not yet been properly cleaned. Not only can this be annoying, but breathing in a lot of dust or getting it in your eyes can have health consequences. You will also likely spend a lot of time outside, loading and unloading the vehicle, and with the doors and windows of the property open, which can expose you to bad weather and the cold.
Some clients can be difficult and demanding and have unrealistic expectations of you. For example, they may have an unrealistic time frame or expect you to pack, move and unpack all of their belongings for a low price. They may then complain and you may feel like you have to try and appease them to avoid a negative review, even if it affects your profits. Trying to deal with this type of client can be stressful and time-consuming and can have a negative effect on your business.
Transporting fragile or valuable items
There is always some level of risk when transporting a customer’s goods, particularly if you are dealing with fragile or valuable items, such as artwork, pianos, chandeliers or sculptures. The items could become damaged during the moving process and your business will be liable for this. This can not only be costly, but it can also affect the reputation of your business.
It can be unpredictable
You’ll never know what to expect from one day to the next and although some people enjoy this, it can also be stressful. Things out of your control, such as a pushed-back move-in date, road closures affecting journey times and your vehicle breaking down, can have a huge impact on your work, and your time frame and result in delays. Handling the unpredictable can be stressful and can affect your business, particularly if you are working with demanding clients or with strict time frames.
Complying with legislation
This industry is highly regulated, with a large number of laws and regulations you must be aware of. You need to ensure you follow all policies and procedures, particularly those relating to health and safety. Not only can it be time-consuming to ensure compliance, but failure to comply, even unintentionally, could have serious consequences. A removal business can have high liability, particularly if you hire employees, which can be a lot of stress and pressure for the business owner.
Once many of your customers are settled in their new property, they will likely not move again for several years, if at all. Because the majority of your jobs will come from one-off customers, you cannot rely on repeat customers like many other businesses do. Not having set contracts and consistent customers can result in an unreliable income, where you cannot predict what your income will be from one month to the next. This can make it difficult to predict your profits and plan your employee requirements.
It can be difficult to build a reputation
A good reputation is key in this industry, as many customers look at your reviews or ask for recommendations from others when searching for a removal company. This can make it difficult for you to establish your business and grow your customer base. Difficulties in creating your client base will result in a reduced income and could affect your ability to continue pursuing your business.
Motivation of employees
If you hire other movers to work for your business, they may be less motivated than you to ensure your business is always represented highly. You could hire an employee who is unmotivated, disinterested or doesn’t operate to your standards. This can result in bad reviews or the loss of custom which can have a detrimental effect on your business.
Less physical involvement as you age
As you grow older, you may find that you have to start taking a backseat and being less involved in the removal process. You may find yourself struggling with some of the more physical tasks or find that you are dealing with more pain or worry that you are at higher risk of injury. You may have to hire more workers, which can affect your profits.
Maintaining your vehicles can be expensive but is an essential part of your business. Your vehicles will need to run safely and smoothly, be fully maintained and undergo regular MOTs and services. You will also need to make sure your vehicles are cleaned regularly, and that you maintain high safety standards. Maintaining your vehicle can be costly and time-consuming, particularly as you will need to keep detailed records.
It can be demanding
Not only can running a removal business be mentally and physically demanding but as the business owner you will have a lot of additional responsibilities, such as constant advertising and marketing, complying with health and safety requirements, maintaining equipment, liaising with clients and completing administrative tasks. You will also be solely responsible for ensuring your business succeeds.
It can be stressful
Not only will you have a lot of day-to-day responsibility, but you will also be responsible for ensuring each job is completed safely with no issues and that your clients are completely happy. You will also be responsible for managing your employees and creating moving schedules. Running a removal business and ensuring your business succeeds can be very stressful.
Although the majority of clients leave honest reviews, some clients are difficult to please and will leave a negative review because of the smallest complaint (even if it is something outside of your control, such as traffic delays affecting your timescale). Sometimes a fake customer also leaves a fake review, which can be extremely difficult to disprove and remove. Negative reviews can be extremely damaging to your business, particularly if your business is new or you’ve had relatively few reviews.
As you are self-employed, you won’t receive benefits such as pension contributions. You will also be responsible for doing your own taxes and organising your National Insurance contributions. You will also have a lack of job security.
Your business could fail
Starting up your own business can be risky. Many new businesses fail which could result in you losing money or getting into debt. Your business could fail for several reasons, such as high local competition, an ineffective business plan or if there is another recession or a period of financial difficulty.
Planning Your Removal Business
An effective and well-designed business plan is essential to the success of your removal business. A business plan can help you to focus on the specific steps that will help your business succeed, plan your short-term and long-term goals, determine your financial needs and help your business to grow.
When creating your business plan, ensure it contains information such as:
- Your company information.
- Your company description.
- The services you will provide.
- Your branding, marketing and advertising plan.
- The structure of your business.
- The operational plan for your business.
- The financial plan for your business.
Some of the factors you will need to consider when creating your business plan are:
The type of removals you want to specialise in
This is the first consideration you will need to make when setting up your business. You will need to decide whether to specialise in residential or commercial removals and which additional services to offer (e.g. assembling furniture or packing fragile items). You could also choose to specialise in smaller or larger moves, e.g. large residential properties or small local businesses. Consider your own skills, experience and preferences and how profitable different services are likely to be when making your decision.
The distance you are prepared to travel
This is an important consideration as it can determine the types of jobs you are able to accept and your typical client base. You may choose to specialise in local removals and set a limit on how far you are willing to travel (e.g. 75 miles). Alternatively, you may offer long-distance removals, to any part of the UK that is accessible by road. Some removal companies even offer removals to mainland Europe. Take into account your own preferences, the demand for your services and the cost vs. profit analysis when making your decision.
Your staffing requirements
Your staffing is an important consideration you will need to make. You will need to decide how many employees to hire and how many delivery vehicles to operate. Keep in mind that your staffing requirements could change as your business grows and evolves.
Your target market
Determining your target market is a key step in helping your business succeed. Different types of removals and different moving services will attract different clients. Some other factors that can influence your target market are your reputation and your pricing strategy. Once you have identified your target market, you can then focus on how to attract them to your business.
Your business location
Your location will have a significant impact on the types of customers you are likely to attract. Potential customers will likely look for a moving company that operates in their local area. If you operate in a location popular with your target market, the increased custom and higher profits will be extremely beneficial to your business.
Your local competition
Being aware of your competition is an important step to ensuring the success of your business. Analysing your competition allows you to look at what they do well and what you think can be improved upon. Look at the moving services your competition offers, their pricing, their target market and the number of employees they have. Analysing your competition also identifies whether there is space in the market for your business; for example, if there is already a successful moving business in your area that focuses on small, residential properties, you could choose to focus your business on a different target market.
Your brand and your unique selling point (USP)
Creating your brand is a key way to ensure you stand out from your competition. Branding can help you to focus your target customer base, attract customers and concentrate your marketing and advertising strategies. Some ways you can create your brand are by focusing on your business’s visual identity, considering the moving services you will specialise in and creating a brand story. Your USP can also be part of your brand and can help your business stand out from your competitors. Consider what makes your business special and how this fits into what defines your business.
Your marketing and advertising strategies
Marketing and advertising are especially important when you first begin operating your removal business. Your marketing strategy needs to be effective and budget friendly. Consider your target customers and the best way to reach them.
Some ways you can market and advertise your business are:
- Build a functional and attractive website.
- Advertise on social media.
- Advertise in your local area and in your local newspaper.
- Post leaflets.
- Partner with local businesses, such as estate agents.
Your equipment requirements
Consult the list above to determine your equipment requirements. The equipment you require will depend on the type of removal business you set up, how big your business is and the size and scale of the moves you specialise in. Once you have determined your equipment requirements, you can then calculate the initial costs of purchasing the equipment.
Your start-up costs and running costs
Consult the list above to help you calculate the approximate costs of setting up and running your business. Determine what equipment you need and the amount of equipment (e.g. the number of moving vehicles), as well as the cost of setting up your business, to help you determine your start-up costs and what your initial investment requirements will be. You can then calculate whether you can finance your business yourself. Determining your start-up costs and running costs can also help you to create a budget and predict when you will begin to turn a profit.
Financing your business
Consult the list of start-up costs and running costs above to determine what capital you will require. Can you finance the business yourself or will you need to source outside investment? You will also need to calculate when you are likely to begin turning a profit. If you require outside investment, you could consider a bank or other financial institution, a business loan or an investment partner.
Your pricing policy
How will you price your services? Will you price your services per hour or per move? Will additional services be priced differently? What factors will influence your pricing (e.g. size of the property, number of movers required, the distance of the move)? Consider the pricing of your competitors when setting your prices. When creating your policy, you will also need to decide when payment will be due. For example, will your clients make full payment before the move begins or will you accept payments after the job is completed?
Your sales forecast
How many jobs can you take on at one time? Are there certain times of the year that are likely to be busier than others? What are your weekly, monthly and annual sales forecasts? You can also analyse the sales forecasts of similar businesses and look at how sales vary throughout the year to estimate demand. As your business grows, your sales forecast is likely to change.
Your strategy for growth
Your strategy for growth is the actions you will take to realise your goals for expansion and any potential challenges your business could face and how you will avoid or overcome them. This can help to make your business more successful.
Potential challenges could include:
- Difficulties completing large-scale moves.
- Lack of consistent business.
- High petrol costs.
Some potential strategies for growth include:
- Hire more employees.
- Improve your marketing and advertising strategies.
- Target high-value clients.
Your business summary
Your business plan should include a detailed overview of your business, including the type of removal business you are setting up, the services you will offer, your typical customer base, your staffing and equipment requirements and your business goals.
Your business goals
Your business goals or objectives are an essential part of creating your business plan. Your business objectives highlight the targets and goals of your removal business and help you to create a one-year, three-year and five-year business plan.
Your business objectives should be SMART:
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Realistic
- T = Time-bound
Check you have complied with all legal requirements
Consult the list of legal requirements above to check you have complied with all requirements and regulations and that all your paperwork is accurate. Failure to comply with legal requirements could have a detrimental effect on your business or could result in a fine, the forced closure of your business or, in serious cases, prosecution.