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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Bob Rosen: “We tend to forget who the real customer is. We get wrapped up in our relationships with HR or the RMC and don’t really think about the end user. Instead, we should do real research around their needs and define our services back from there. Also, this whole categorisation by age groups is probably the wrong way to think about how we deliver which services. It’s more about how people consume things: a 59 year old can consume in the exact same way as a 25 year old. You have to build different modes of delivery into your product.”

How we access services is changing dramatically.

Bill Graebel: “Clients hire us to be their global programme manager. Their objectives tend to be based around three or four main pillars. Consistency in the transferee experience is one of these. The employer brand needs to be upheld. In the past they may have had a tri-regional model, with local HR or business unit leaders being able to place their own nuances on how someone would be served or under what kind of policies. But the reality is that people are relocating across the globe. They’ll compare their relocation to Latin America to the one in Europe, which might be an entirely different experience, and can influence whether or not they’d be willing to relocate for the company again.”

“Then there is compliance. Whether taxation, labour law or data, it’s a rapidly accelerating and complex landscape. Data needs to be assessed and analysed because organisations want to know where they are most successful in recruiting and deploying people, and under what kind of policies. How quickly do transferees assimilate into their teams and the local community? The quicker they assimilate, the more focus they have on the job, which is ultimately the ROI for the corporation. Obviously this is viewed through a macro lens, but consistency of delivery, brand experience, the mitigation of risk; when you put them all together it makes a very complex but fascinating opportunity in this era of globalisation.”

Increasing popularity of lump sum relocation.

BR: “Lump sum relocations have a significant impact on revenue streams as they chip away at the traditional service model. It’s also a much bigger marketplace and can be an opportunity to expand our business. If we take the things we know – our institutional knowledge and products – and remix them, we can assemble products and services in a different way. We need to consider how we can assess clients’ needs and hit them at the points in time where they need those services, from the day they find out they’re moving to the day they leave the assignment. There’s a variety of information and services they need to access along that entire timeline.”

Historic under-investment in technology.

BR: “It’s our responsibility to ensure we have a sustainable company. As an industry we’ve underinvested, we have a lot of foundational things to do before we can take full advantage of new technologies such as blockchain and AI. Simple things need to come first: APIs to connect our people in the field with our systems, your systems, HR and the corporations’ systems. Instantaneously connecting that data is not about eliminating people, it means they can focus on the more difficult cases and assess what people’s needs are. It’s not taking cost out, it’s taking work out.”

Profit margins under pressure.

BG: “We all want more for less, it’s the way of the world. We can’t expect corporations to be any different, they’re in competitive industries too. There’s no silver bullet, but there has to be a continuous effort to examine your workflow, to look at the intersections where your work lets off and someone else’s work begins. Then you want to find a way for not just one entity to reduce their cost structure, but that allows both entities to lower their costs. In an ideal world both hold on to an incremental margin, but in a practical world it enables you to at least remain competitive.”

BR: “We have an ongoing responsibility to be more efficient and effective at what we do. You don’t pay €5000 for a television anymore. Those companies have figured out ways to streamline the supply chain, materials and so forth. We have to think about where the overlaps in our business lie and how we can get rid of them. One of these ways is through automation.”

We’re living longer, what does that do to the world of work?

BR: “You’ve got to go where the work is. People may not relocate their whole family anymore, but short term assignments, extended business travellers, gig workers; these people are all traversing the globe. It nibbles away at the core of what has traditionally been our work, but it also creates tremendous opportunity in huge volumes and high velocity moves. We need to figure out how to tweak our institutional knowledge and repackage it in ways that will serve people. Transferees may not need a three-day house finding tour, but a one hour orientation to the local area. Our knowledge and our networks are the information people want to access, we just need to find a way to present it to them.”

BG: “From a consumer point of view – they say over the next few years one in six people on the planet will change residence each year – there is a big need. On the one end of the spectrum there is the university student who changes dorm room at the end of the year, and on the other end people who move from their primary residence into a care home. But everywhere in between represents potential. Over the next few years 35-40% of people will be gig workers, these people don’t have any corporate support and have to figure things out like immigration, pensions, how their taxes are applied… People are going to need a ton of assistance at some point. I believe there is a variety of new services yet to be invented, deployed and – of course – accessible from your mobile device.”

“From an employment point of view we’re going to have to be more open minded, let go of our sense of ageism. Because to what age is someone competent at their job? Much of our senior executive team is retiring over the next ten years. I tell them ‘Your number one job is being a mentor, but also to be a mentee, because unless you’re retiring in the next two years, you’d better be continuously learning and curious about acquiring new skills.’ You can’t sit still anymore, your job is going to require a new skill set every few years.”

To catch the full session, it’s follow-up ‘applying trends’ or any of the other conference talks, visit the EuRA YouTube channel.

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