The Hidden Costs of Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor


Moving has been in Bobby's family for generations

Allston Piano Movers Founder Bobby Franklin has been in the service industry his entire life, and has heard all the horror stories from people that got burned trying to save a few dollars by hiring an unlicensed, disreputable contractor to work in their homes. When Allston Piano joined the Gentle Giant Moving Company family a few years ago, Bobby shared with us a lot of the wisdom he has collected over the years, and now we’d like to share it with you:

As the economy continues to languish, many businesses are struggling to endure the increasing cost of overhead caused by added OSHA regulations, IRS policies, healthcare and insurance costs, worker’s compensation claims, and more. While the impact on small businesses is apparent, how does this affect the consumer? With most people using the internet as their first (and most times only) choice in locating a business in the service industry, it is easy to fall prey to less than legitimate companies. Anyone can set up a slick looking web site making all kinds of promises and claims about being licensed and insured. Often times, the consumer is only looking for the lowest price, which these uninsured outfits usually provide. However, what is not commonly known is that hiring a company working “off the books” puts the consumer at risk from many different angles.

For starters, a company operating in the underground economy will not have proper insurance coverage. This means that not only will your family and possessions not be protected, but you may also be held liable in the event a worker is injured while working for you.

The Allston Piano Movers Team

When hiring a company to work in your home, consider the level of ethics they have. Reputable companies that take care of their employees do so that the employees will in turn take care of the customer. Doing this often garners repeat business and the almighty referral, which are the lifeblood of service providers. On the other hand, an underground, unlicensed contractor most likely will not be giving their workers proper medical, worker’s compensation, and most of the benefits that a legitimate company would provide. If taxes are withheld at all, they may not even be turned over to the government. In most cases these companies pay their employees in cash.


RESEARCH: Check to see if the company you are looking into hiring has a land telephone line with a local exchange. Also, ensure that they have a legitimate address in the state where they are advertising their services. Many disreputable companies will simply register a remote UPS Mailbox Store address in order to get a local address. Or they will also sometimes just use a friend’s address. Want to feel like the FBI cracking down on a shady business? Use Google Maps to zoom in on the address provided to check out whether the location is what it’s being advertised as.

DUE DILIGENCE: Ask for a certificate of insurance to be sent to you directly from their insurance provider. Once you receive this, call the provider to verify that all coverage is active and applicable to your state. Also, check to see if their trucks are registered in the state they claim to be located in. If their vehicles are registered out of state and they are claiming to be licensed in the state they are doing work in they are almost assuredly working illegally.

CHOOSE WISELY: When you hire a company that is doing business this way you are endangering not only yourself, but you are harming legitimate, law abiding businesses, their honest employees, and your fellow taxpayers. The rules were meant for everyone and people who chose to work in outside of them should not be rewarded. By supporting your local, legitimate business community, you are ensuring its long term stability and health.

History Lesson: Allston Piano Movers

Long before Allston Piano Movers paired up with Gentle Giant Moving Company in 2010, owner Bobby Franklin and his highly trained crews were gaining a reputation for being a fast, friendly, and reliable piano moving service provider throughout New England.

This video slideshow demonstrates the experience, teamwork, and strength it takes to execute a flawless piano move.


Meet the Giants: Allston Piano Manager Pat Andrus

Pat Andrus is the embodiment of a Gentle Giant. While his body builder physique makes even the heaviest pianos seem lightweight, his approach to piano moving is gentle, calm, and confident.

Pat on the job in downtown Boston with the Allston Piano truck.

After growing up in Gloucester, MA, the nation’s oldest fishing port, and graduating from Westfield State College, Pat dove head first into the corporate world, but realized after a few years that he was becoming burnt out on the grind’s monotony and headaches. He began looking for a change of pace, and in his research for a new vocation, he came upon Gentle Giant.

“I thought to myself, if I am going to become a mover, I’m going to work for the best,” Andrus explains.

Being a collegiate football player made Pat use to physically demanding activities, and was fully prepared to meet the demands of Gentle Giant’s challenging every day moves. From the beginning, his favorite part of working at Gentle Giant was being able to manage customer’s expectations while executing difficult and stressful moves.

Pat spent his first year at Gentle Giant getting used to the pace of the trucks and ultimately thrived. The culmination of his hard work throughout the first year came when he was awarded co-Rookie of the Year with Brandon Sparks, who is now Branch Manager of Gentle Giant’s San Francisco office, Great Giant Moving Company.

Shortly after his second year at the Giant, Andrus found himself at a crossroad. He loved the company, culture, and his coworkers, but wasn’t sure there was any room for advancement for him within the company. Thankfully Gentle Giant has a track record of promoting excellent people, and approached Pat with the prospect of managing Allston Piano Moving Company, Gentle Giant’s recently acquired piano moving division. Needless to say, Pat jumped at the chance to manage the business, develop new crew chiefs, and book big jobs.

Pat on the beach in Nantucket after another successful piano move.

“Being placed in charge of Allston Piano provided me with an excellent opportunity to make my mark at Gentle Giant and help grow a brand within the company,” Pat notes. “I really enjoy the challenges that come with my position and the success we have achieved thus far.”

In less than five years, Pat went from a helper on the trucks to the Branch Manager of Allston Piano Movers.  “Working on the trucks taught me about teamwork, strategy, customer service, and properly managing high pressure situations, which are now the tools I rely on in my management role.”

During these five years, Pat witnessed Gentle Giant struggle after the housing market collapsed. What impressed him the most at that time was how Gentle Giant was able to dramatically streamline the organization without having to sacrifice any jobs. “Surviving those tough years was no small task in an industry with such small margins, but Gentle Giant survived by maintaining their commitment to employees.”

When Pat isn’t estimating piano moves, booking jobs, managing crews, training rookie piano movers, starring in commercials, or bringing grand pianos down from the 4th floor of a Beacon Hill condo on his back while four other guys hold the balance, Pat enjoys strength training, hiking, spending time with his English bulldog Riley, and taking every opportunity to enjoy the ocean.