How I Almost Went to Prison for Running a Moving Business

The Story of a Four Year Federal Investigation

Would you ever think that you could go to prison for running a moving business? Neither did I, but it was a reality that I was recently faced with. I want to share with you the story of how I almost went to prison for running my moving business.

After 10 years of owning and operating multiple nationwide local and long distance moving and storage companies, I decided to open a moving broker division. At the time I already had a call center set up to handle the sales for all my locations. I sold my long distance fleet and started brokering out my interstate shipments.

Running a broker business had a whole new set of challenges that were completely different than running my own long distance moves with my own trucks. It took about a year to get new processes and standard operating procedures ironed out for the brokerage business.

Then one day I received a call from my office manager telling me that the FBI was at my office with a search warrant. That was the day I learned about an active investigation on my company that went on for four years. In the video on this page, I explain exactly how everything happened and what the outcome was. Make sure to watch the video for the full story.

There is currently an active federal investigation happening on moving companies called “Operation Boxed Up”. USDOT Press Release on Louis Massaro.

I advise all moving company owners to take a step back and look at their operation. It can be easy to say “I’m not doing anything wrong” and ignore it, but that’s what I thought and look what happened to me. Remember, you are responsible for all the actions of your employees, contractors and companies you do business with.

3 quick tips for staying compliant and making sure your customers have a good experience. 

  1. Provide accurate estimates – It all starts with an accurate estimate. Make sure that you and your team are being proactive when gathering inventory from your customers for their move. If a customer says “this is all I have” while you are gathering inventory, you have to dig deeper. Ask them if they have anything under the beds, in the garage, hallway closets, basement, attic, shed or storage. Make sure they know the only way you can give them an accurate estimate is by getting everything on the inventory.
  2. Be clear about additional charges – Some customers may intentionally or accidentally leave items off their inventory which will result in a lower estimate for them. Make sure that you are clear with your customers about additional charges they may incur. Send them their inventory to verify and make sure they know their price is based on that inventory. Make sure you clearly explain that if your truck shows up and there are more items than listed on the inventory that their price may go up, even if they have a “binding estimate”. Also, make sure that you are clear about anything and everything you charge extra for.

  3. Only sub-contract (interline or broker) to carriers you trust – If you are not going to service an interstate shipment yourself, then be careful and selective when choosing a carrier to service the shipment. Whether you are a carrier or a broker, only do business with other carriers that you trust. Remember, you are responsible for that customer’s shipment. Before giving a move to another company to service, ask yourself “would I have that company move my family?”

I know the majority of moving companies go out there every day and work really hard to take care of their customers. Just keep focusing on each individual customer and making sure their move goes smooth with no hidden surprises. As professional movers, we need to take the lead when dealing with our customers and make sure they understand how it all works. Clear communication will help you avoid many problems.

Watch the video above for the full episode.

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How can I help? What challenges are you facing in your business? What areas could you use some tips in?

Leave me a comment below and I will be more than happy to get back to you or post a video on the topic.

 

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.