Home wasn’t built in a day

The rise of the one-day service request

Earlier this year, the ABRA team attended the European Relocation Association (EuRA) 2024 conference in Vilamoura, Portugal. As ever, this was an amazing event which gave both inspiration and food for thought for all of us. It also gave us a chance to get a view of the relocations industry from other parts of Europe and the world.

It was during a “state of the industry” chat, which featured Stephen Cryne (CERC), Sharon Michnay (Relo Network Asia), Eric Ponchaut (Mobilitas), and James Tomlin (Jobbatical), that we got inspiration for today’s industry update.

A part of the conversation centred on the rise of “one-day home-finding services”. That is, the expectation of clients that a relocation agent can meet an assignee, find them a home and arrange that home within a single working day.

finding a home with relocation support, one day home finding services

'Cost pressures aren’t new, especially when it comes to talent mobility. Surely, we can’t attribute such a steep rise in “one day home-finding” requests entirely on the economy and inflation?'

Requests for this service have grown over 30% in Asia in the last 12 months alone, but it’s not a phenomenon which is exclusive to there. In fact, we’re seeing requests for this type of accelerated service become increasingly commonplace around the world, including in Belgium.

If the demand is there, then surely, a good destination service provider can make it happen. A premium service, which can be charged at a premium rate, right? Sadly, not so much.

Quick is good, what’s the problem?

The problem is simple; a one-day home finding service is virtually impossible. The practical realities associated with finding, negotiating and completing the contracts on a rental home go way beyond what can be realised in a single day.

There’s the initial consultation with the assignee to discuss their requirements, the researching and shortlisting of potential properties and arranging of viewing appointments, before accompanying the assignee to multiple viewings across a busy city.

Assuming the assignee finds a property they like, an offer must be made (and accepted), lease agreements have to be drawn up and payments have to be coordinated. Finally, there is the entry inspection and walkthrough before the assignee moves in.

Simply put: 8 hours isn’t enough to do it all.

So, where’s this coming from?

Cost pressures aren’t new, especially when it comes to talent mobility. Surely, we can’t attribute such a steep rise in “one day home-finding” requests entirely on the economy and inflation? Indeed, some of it is in our own hands and likely a combination of three distinct factors.

First, is the charging scale most relocation agents use. By offering services on a per-day basis, the incentive is there for the client to try to minimise the expense, and so retain budget, by artificially restricting time. Working for their budget, not the result.

The second comes from a lack of understanding. Clients employ relocation agents to make problems disappear. To take the lead and resolve issues. Whilst this is great, it can lead to clients undervaluing what we actually do. Simply seeing the end result, and not considering the work which goes into achieving that result.

Finally, the industry has been using the same language and concepts for a very long time now. This has led to a bank of assumed knowledge. The assumption is that everyone knows what a one-day search means, whereas the truth is, they don’t.

What can you do?

The aim here should be to move or at least change the concept of a one-day service from the client’s mind. The expectation is so frequently unrealistic, even considering it as a standard option is building for potential failure.

How to do this? Well, it’s a two-step process. First, we start with communication.

Being clear with your clients regarding the steps involved in finding a new home for an assignee is crucial. Before they’ve even signed up, it is good practice to lay out the steps necessary to complete the work for them. Include within that, current estimated timelines for each step, where possible.

The next step is to communicate other services, such as orientation tours or settling in services, and upsell those to incentivise the move to a two- or even three-day service. You can do this by making these service more feature rich and including attractive options with these longer-term services.

If that’s all been successfully communicated, then it’s good to follow up with an RFP that lays out a scope for the work ahead. Include as much detail on the steps as possible and use that to form the backbone of your agreement.

By managing the client’s expectations and laying those out in written form, you’re ensuring clarity on the part of the client. But, by incentivising longer-term services, you’re creating a service which you know will be more attractive for all involved.

So, is that it?

It is, and it isn’t.

As Gen Z is making their way further into the workplace, they’re bringing with them a new set of expectations and beliefs. Gen Z is more likely to want to spend the time search for accommodation themselves online, seeking support for the legal side of the process, for example.

So, it will be necessary to watch the marketplace and seek feedback from assignees on ways to manage and improve services going forward.

Whilst it’s no doubt that the one-day service can be a challenge for relocation agents, it can also pose a great opportunity. Using that as the catalyst to starting conversations to upsell clients to a broader portfolio of services and making them aware of the value you can bring to their global mobility programme.





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