Among the many stressful things in military life is watching everything you own get wrapped, boxed, packed and put on a truck, followed by watching it get delivered and unpacked while you hope little is broken and nothing is missing. And at the center of this military move process are teams of people you've likely never met before doing the work. Will they treat your belongings kindly? Will they steal your items? Do they even care at all? Those were the questions that drove Army veterans and military spouses Wendy Way and Isabel Garcia Schmitt to create their own military packer and unloader company, LOGSA Mil Moves. Known as "agents" within the moving industry, the quality of work done by those teams makes a huge difference on how your move goes.
Way and Schmitt have learned a lot about making moves go smoothly for military family members like themselves. They joined PCS with Military.com to share their best tips. Here's some of what they said.
Avoid feeding and never tip your movers. It might come as a surprise to most military families, but beyond providing water and drinks, Way and Schmitt discourage anyone from feeding their moving crew and say absolutely no cash tips. Either action, they said, creates unreasonable expectations and, worse, sets the stage for financial inequity.
"Oftentimes that tip is sometimes correlated with the quality of service, which is sometimes correlated with the [military] rank of the move, and that's not what we want. We want every service member to receive the same move. We want to have a standard and we want to stick with that standard, and we don't want it to be tied to some benefit that's expected, or we don't want moves that go awry because something wasn't received," Schmitt said.
The same is true for providing lunch or dinner, she said.
"It's not encouraged," she said. "You're setting up these unfair conditions for that Private family, that Specialist family, that 2nd Lieutenant family. You may be setting them up for failure if you're providing something that another military family isn't able to provide."
Just because one packing crew did something doesn't mean another one will. Because there aren't many hard-and-fast rules from the Defense Department around what the pack-out crew can and cannot do in your home, it can be hard to have accurate packing-day expectations, said Way. That means you need to remember that while one crew may do something like remove a TV from your wall for you, another might know doing that puts too much liability risk on their company. Over-communicating with your crew and understanding your rights are key, she said.
"I think my biggest surprise when getting into this industry ... [was] when I kept asking, 'Where is the regulation? Where is the standard?' Because there actually is no standard," she said.
Remember many people are dealing with your move. While door-to-door moves are nice, they are rare, Way and Schmitt said. That means that the team that packs your belongings in North Carolina, for example, won't be there to unpack them when they arrive in California, and the person driving them may not be the same person who delivers them.
That means only communicating by word of mouth isn't the best method, they said. Instead, document everything.
"That crew that you are communicating with may not be able to just, by virtue of them being in North Carolina and the unpack could be in California, be able to pass on that information," said Schmitt. "Excluding the door-to-door, your move may be touched by four different entities or more between the time it's packed at your home and then it's unpacked at your new location."
"The most important of all is communication drives everything," Way said. "Communicate, communicate, communicate."
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