Section 4: Beware – and prepare for – The ‘X’ Factor
Preparing the way for the movers is just about as important as ensuring everything is packed and ready to go. MTB provides estimates based on factors common to 99 percent of people’s homes – are there any long walks, elevators, stairs, etc.? However, there’s a significant ‘X’ Factor that can throw our estimates out the window if we’re not informed about them.
An example: there’s a certain building in the Foggy Bottom area that is otherwise easily accessible. It has moderate walkways, a normal sized elevator, and no stairs. However, in the basement, on the pathway from the freight elevator to the loading area, there’s a five-inch-high concrete “lip” in a doorway that utterly kills us every time. That five-inch lip prevents us from rolling heavily laden carts and dollies down the hallway. If we can’t lift them over the lip, we have to unstack the cart, lift it over the lip, and reload the cart on the other side. This is an enormous, costly waste of time.
I could list numerous other examples, but the point is that even if all else goes perfectly, small obstructions can throw a great big chainsaw into the whole delicate operation. So, here are some guidelines to help reduce The ‘X’ Factor:
Access to external properties
Ideally, every move would be as simple as pulling up to your front door, stepping ten feet from it to the truck, and loading everything in an hour or so. A door-to-door move, even if the place is filled with boxes and furniture, is significantly faster than a move where access is restricted.
Make sure you have the keys to your new place in-hand before the movers arrive
Organize keys to both properties: Try to obtain the keys for the new address at least a day before the move.
Keep your keys safe. Make sure you remember where you put them and make sure they’re accessible on move day. If the movers can’t get access to the property, they will just be waiting around, on the clock. (We’re extremely lenient, but in all frankness, MTB has lost tens of thousands of dollars in the last few years discounting for situations like this and other preventable situations.)
Ensure you have the freight elevator reserved!
Once you’ve booked it, check again. After that, check again. Apartment buildings double- or triple-book elevators all the time, and in most cases, they wash their hands of any responsibility, leaving it to angry, frustrated customers and often hostile, totally unsympathetic movers. (All of our guys are trained and instructed to be helpers, not confrontational or pushy. We look for solutions, not blame.)
Make sure to reserve a Moving Truck parking permit if applicable
You get them online here: https://tops.ddot.dc.gov/DDOTPERMITSYSTEM/DDOTPERMITONLINE/Landing.aspx. As of this writing they’ll cost you $50.
Yes, your neighbors will likely ignore them, so it’s a good idea to post a polite request at least a week in advance to give them a heads-up. Do the same at your new place. Most of our customers have no problem calling the parking police to issue tickets (we, of course, have no problem doing that either), but while we may luxuriate in the sensation of justice served, we’re still going to have to figure out where to put the truck. If we have to park around the corner on a busy city street, it’s going to take a lot longer, and therefore cost (potentially) a lot more.
Make sure we can prop doors open
If you feel comfortable doing so, “grease the wheels” a little bit with your new and/or old building’s management if they have a problem propping doors open. You probably wouldn’t expect it, but if we have to open doors for every armload of stuff, it’s going to add a LOT of time to the job.
Note: I’m NOT suggesting bribing them, but a pleasant attitude can go a long way. One of my proudest professional achievements (next to chatting with the late former Press Secretary Tony Snow about guitars at a Corner Bakery) was changing an apartment manager’s mind about parking in front of the building. These people are notoriously inflexible. But, getting them to laugh a little helps…a lot.
Park your car in the best spot
It’s also a good idea to park your car(s) in the most convenient access points to the building at least a day in advance. We understand that it’s not always possible to keep your car in one spot in the city, but you should probably consider that it may be worth a $50 ticket. The alternative could be hundreds of dollars in moving costs because we have to walk around a city block to get to your front door. It rarely happens, but it’s a possibility to be aware of.
Access to internal properties
Within the property, clear all hazards from the work area. After all, your home is our office, and we need a professional working environment. This includes kids. We love kids, but let’s face it, they don’t always understand mass, gravity or velocity, and therefore don’t see the danger in setting up their Thomas the Tank Engine set right in the main pathway into or out of the property. Pets similarly disdain laws of nature.
The bottom line: we like clear lines of travel. We know it’s tough to make a perfect moving environment, but please try – ankles can be twisted, items dropped, etc., if we’re working in an obstacle course.
Large or awkward items
Sometimes we enter a property and see a massive furniture item and wonder just how the heck it got in there. Remembering how you or previous movers got it in there helps out a lot. Often people call us for one, specific piece of furniture that they just do not want to deal with again. We love a challenge, but remember, the name of the game is time-reduction.
This is, without doubt, one of the biggest of the X Factors. If there’s a lot of it laying around – on floors, on boxes, in doorways – we’ll have to work around it and reshuffle it. (If you want us to move it, we will, but large piles of random, unpacked stuff – you guessed it – adds time.)
I recently moved, and with all my experience, I still had two or three truck loads of random stuff. (You try moving with three kids five-and-under. Actually, don’t. Just stay put. It’s easier). So, I know how that can be a real challenge.
Here’s our general rule of thumb: If all your random stuff can fit into our c-bin pictured above (picture coming soon. Sigh.), you’re in great shape. (The guys tell me that I should note that the c-bin is the big open box…)