The piano moving business: Let the buyer beware!
After 15 years in the piano business, I have observed one key reality; many people claim to be able to move a piano safely, and few actually can. When you are tasked with moving an important piece like a piano, you need to be certain that you can trust the people you hire. However, these days it is becoming harder to discern who the trusted companies are, and who are not. Today, with the ease of creating websites on the internet, just simply reading reviews on Google will not give you the entire picture. It can be hard to tell who has the experience level and expertise needed to move your delicate piano. Here are 5 red flags to look out for when hiring a piano mover:
- They claim that they are insured, but struggle to show proof of insurance, and/or can’t explain what coverage they have. Every major piano moving business will have proof of insurance handy to send to their clients upon request. This request is such a common occurrence, that any reputable firm will be able to produce this in short order. In addition, it is important to note that simple “general liability” coverage is not enough to cover your piano while it is being transported. You will want the company to carry GL, as well as cargo insurance and bailee property coverage. Some less than reputable companies claim to have insurance when they really only have commercial auto insurance for their truck. Don’t be fooled by this. Get a copy of their certificate of insurance before you engage in business with them.
- They have the latest piano moving machine that will do all of the heavy lifting. If you are in the piano business long enough you will learn that practically no major piano companies own a piano moving machine. Why is that? Well, it is simple – a piano moving machine is extremely limited in the scope of what it can do. With a high cost of ownership and limited functionality, these tools are NOT typically used by people who have experience moving pianos. For example, they only work on straight staircases with no turns and ample room all around, and that rarely happens in the real world. Also there is some question of whether or not the large tracks on those machines will leave marks in your floor. Having a machine like this may be a way for an inexperienced person to simply buy a machine, set up a website and claim to be a piano mover. In reality, moving a piano requires at least 2 relatively large people who have the strength and experience to maneuver your piano around obstacles as they bring it in or out of your home. Don’t hire someone like this and end up with your piano stuck in a position their machine can’t figure how to get them out of!
- Cant provide references easily. Today all you have to do is create a Google my business webpage, which takes all of 5 minutes, and then you will be listed as a company that offers piano moving. People have been notoriously doing this in the piano business, and in many other service businesses because of how easy it is to get in front of customers on Google. You will know that the people behind the Google business listing have experience based on a number of factors that may not be apparent without digging deeper. Ask how long they have been in business for example, and if they have references. If they can’t provide that information, there is one easy red flag.
- Scheduling is difficult. Sometimes inexperienced people who are trying to make a buck by attempting to move your piano will balance their other day job with their side gig – moving pianos. If they keep pushing the schedule around it may be a sign that they are trying to find the time, and the manpower to help them pull off your job! Piano moving is a HGIHLY precarious activity. Your 600+ pound piano could fall on your floors, or wall, or even worse – a person. This is not something to play around with. Get the right people.
- They are also furniture movers. I wish I could screenshot and post every inquiry I get for repairing pianos that have been dropped by furniture movers. At the time of writing this blog post, I have 3 jobs in my shop where a piano has been dropped by a furniture mover claiming to be able to move a piano, and that is less than normal. Typically I see a request like this on a weekly basis. Believe it or not, piano moving is quite difficult and skilled work. It is far too easy to let the center of mass get off slightly and cause the piano to tip over. Furniture moving companies have high rates of turnover, and it is extremely unlikely that you will find a furniture mover who can also safely move your piano.
If you are unsure about your piano mover, feel free to reach out to me and I will do my best to help. 214-883-1885
Holt Deniger is a piano technician with 15 years experience, including working for grammy award winning artists, colleges and universities, Steinway artists, Steinway dealers, news studios, and much more. Before being a piano technician, Mr. Deniger worked as a piano mover for Steinway Hall.