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5 Moving Tips for Clergy and Employees of Faith-Based Organizations

By Vicki Bierlein, Vice President Affinity Sales, Stevens Worldwide Van Lines

Since the 1993 establishment of its Clergy Move Center ©, Stevens Worldwide Van Lines has placed special emphasis on serving the relocation needs of those who are called to serve in the pastorate or work within a ministry in another capacity. As a result of this focus, and our ability to consistently deliver a high standard of service and value, we are currently endorsed by more faith-based organizations than any mover in the United States.

I’m proud to say I’ve worked in the Clergy Move Center since day one, during which time I’ve personally coordinated or overseen a few thousand moves. Today I head up the Clergy Move Center, with responsibility for – among other duties – seeing to it that we serve our clergy and other customers in faith-based ministry,  to the very best of our abilities. As a part of this effort, in today’s post I want to offer our clergy customers and prospective customers five tips on how to make their next move as smooth and hassle-free as possible while getting the best value for their moving dollar.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Stevens Worldwide Van Lines proudly serves people of all faiths. But as the United States has, by far, the largest Christian population of any country in the world, the majority of the faith-based professionals we work with are employed by Christian organizations. So for this reason, and for composition and readability, I will use the terms pastor and church throughout. In no way is my usage of these words meant to be exclusionary to people of different faiths.

  • Tip #1 Check with the regional or national headquarters for your denomination for a referral or recommendation. At a minimum you should be able to get a list of pre-screened movers. In other instances your denomination will have partnered with a mover. In this case the company has been thoroughly vetted by church headquarters as a proven mover that delivers quality service at a fair price, and supports the mission of the church.

    In addition, if your denomination has a national contract with a mover it’s usually at a discounted rate. Plus, in most contractual arrangements the mover is required to conduct customer satisfaction surveys on every move and regularly report results to the denominational or organizational headquarters. For example, here at the Clergy Move Center we report our survey results to all faith-based organizations we contract with quarterly or annually.

    NOTE: Your new church may be non-denominational or have chosen not to involve itself in the vetting and recommendation of movers. In this case my strong recommendation is that (in addition to your normal due diligence) you choose a mover that has been certified through the American Moving and Storage Association’s
    ProMover program. The ProMover program promotes ethical principles in the moving and storage industry and works with federal and state governments to mitigate unethical moving practices.
  • Tip #2 Make every effort to get the best moving value for you and your new church. If your church is like most, it will require that you get two or three estimates before choosing a mover. That’s standard and all well and good. What I’ve seen during my many years of working with churches and clergy though is that there’s a strong inclination to choose a mover strictly on the basis of price. This is especially true with churches and clergy because they feel, and rightfully so, that this is the Lord’s money that’s being spent. It’s understandable; we all like to save money. Especially in this instance when any money saved is money that can be used for the mission of the ministry.

    On the other hand, it’s often the cheapest mover that delivers the poorest service. Be especially leery of the mover who says they’ll beat your lowest estimate; because if they do not know how to properly value their service they likely do not know how to deliver quality moving services either. The point is, as a pastor, choir director, organization executive, or faith-based educator you’re no less deserving of a quality, hassle-free moving service than anybody else. Besides that, the moving business is highly competitive. If you get quotes from three reputable movers they’re usually all going to be within 10% of one another. Then it’s up to you to determine which moving company offers you and your new church the best overall value.
  • Tip #3 Allow yourself plenty of time for packing. In the secular world corporations often pay for full packing services for relocating executives. Faith-based organizations are more frugal and more times than not our customers are expected to do their own packing. But not only will a clergy’s family have to do its own packing, they’ll have to deal with other factors that can keep them from getting their packing done on time.

    That’s because when a pastor leaves one church to go serve another he or she is leaving behind an extended family. A family the pastor has served and ministered to, often on a very personal level. Depending on the size of the congregation this extended family could be 50 people or several hundred people. The thing to understand is that a great many of these people will want to help, and to personally say goodbye. And all these personal goodbyes – many from people just “dropping by” –  can seriously cut into your packing time. So plan ahead. When most clergy accept a call it’s about thirty days out, in some cases a bit longer. My advice is to start packing right then and there.

    At Stevens one way we help is by providing you with an estimate of how many packing boxes you’ll need. As a rule of thumb, you can pack five boxes an hour. So if the estimate calls for three hundred boxes you’ll need to allow for 60 hours of packing time. Also, that five-boxes-an-hour number is based on the work of a professional packer, someone who packs without bias or reminiscence.

    As for church members who want to help, here’s an idea. Set aside a packing day, say seven to ten days from your moving date. Bill it as “Pizza & Packing Day” and invite all interested congregants to join you. Assign people to specific rooms and make sure you have boxes, tape and all the materials you need organized and at the ready. Make sure also that you and your family members circulate between the various rooms.
  • Tip #4 Limit the size of your welcoming party. Just as your leaving presents special moving challenges so too does your initial arrival at your new destination. Your new church family will be excited and many of them will want to be there to give you and your family a warm and gracious welcome. They’ll want to help unload the truck. They’ll want to help with the boxes and furniture coming into the house. But no reputable mover will allow any of them to set foot on the moving van. No reputable mover will allow any of them to do anything that might cause them personal injury or damage to any of your household goods.

    Obviously, this is because of liability and claims issues. That’s the crux of it of course but there are other reasons. For example, you (and other members of your immediate family) will want to be free to focus on the placement of furniture, the condition of the furniture, the checking off of inventory and other important details. But if there’s a crowd of church members on hand you’ll feel obligated to play the role of convivial pastor – and lose that focus. Resist the urge to put on your “social hat” and you’ll risk coming across as distant and aloof. It’s a lose/lose situation.

    Here at the Clergy Move Center our move counselors always speak with the chairman of the call committee ahead of time. Our recommendation is that having one or two members of the call committee on hand is plenty. But anything beyond that is potentially disruptive and dysfunctional. Not only for the pastor, but also for the driver and the helpers who are trying to efficiently get everything into the home. We suggest that if people feel compelled to do something, they can offer to help with unpacking – after the big move-in is done. 
  • Tip #5 All things being equal, take an even closer look. Then choose the mover that best reflects your values and with whom you feel the most comfortable. As mentioned earlier, competition for your business is such that most reputable movers are going to be within 10% of one another on price. Often the difference is closer to 5%, but you also want to consider the terms of the estimate. For instance, is it a firm price or variable price once the move has been completed? In these cases you’ll want to take an even closer look at the benefits and advantages of choosing one mover over another.

    A few  examples of “closer look” factors worth considering:
    • Does the mover offer you a knowledgeable, experienced, single point of contact for questions, issues and needs you may have before, during and after your move?
    • Does the mover have a written, fair and easily understood damage claims policy?
    • Is the mover willing and able to find a way to work with your budget, as opposed to “this is our quote and that’s all we can do”?
    • What, if any, special perks might the mover offer to earn your business? For example, some movers (Stevens being one) offer the customer a cash rebate for facilitating the sale or purchase of a home.
    • Does the mover give back? For more than 100 years Stevens Worldwide been a part of the Saginaw, Michigan community, supporting various civic and charitable initiatives. Currently the company is engaged in a year-long campaign to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

When it’s all said and done your choice of mover may well come down to the company you feel the most comfortable with. And usually we feel most comfortable when we are dealing with people who share our values. At this point I’ll forgo objectivity and tell you that I believe this is one reason the Stevens Company and the Stevens Clergy Move Center has been successful. Because we strive always to live and work according to Christian values and those we come in contact with sense that and feel comfortable working with us.

And there you have my five tips. I hope you’ve found them helpful and on behalf of Stevens Worldwide Van Lines I wish you safe journeys on all your future moves. We at the Stevens Clergy Move Center look forward to the honor and privilege of assisting you with those moves.



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