May 14, 2013 by Frank Peditto
We all do it! You get a quote or price for something and then you immediately search online to see what other companies are charging or offering. If you’re looking at hardened goods, aside from fakes and damaged items, you’re typically in a position to obtain a better deal or at least compare ‘apples to apples’. But, in the service sector, specifically household goods and vehicle transportation, you’re not always comparing ‘apples to apples’. In fact, more often than not, lower price can often equal lower quality and, in the end, cost more money and cause a lot more aggravation.
When we receive questions from our transferees on price, we make sure to detail our commitment to quality and service and specifically outline numerous key benefits that not all transportation companies provide.
- ReloTrans uses only reputable fully insured, experienced carries that are hand-selected and held to qualitative and quantitative based performance based metrics.
- ReloTrans provides its own insurance for up to $100,000 and covers the full Kelly Blue Book for transferee vehicles, should an issue arise.
- Should a shipment be delayed in delivery, ReloTrans provides a complimentary rental car until delivery is made.
- ReloTrans has a team of dedicated and experienced customer service professionals who personally work with each transferee throughout the entire move.
- ReloTrans offers 24/7/365 communication points (phone, email, text and web) so that transferees have real-time access to shipping information and delivery timetables.
With decades of experience in the relocation industry, I’ve witnessed all the nightmare stories – missing shipments, movers never showed, car was a week late – and, while some of these mishaps were due to circumstances beyond the movers’ control, more often than not, they’re simply due to the company’s commitment to quality.
Anyone can buy a truck and obtain a license to ship cars. And, there are no minimum service or insurance regulations. Buyers beware – do your homework and don’t buy on price alone when it comes to auto transport or moving. Make the smart decision and work with a professional firm that is insured, experienced and committed to quality.
April 16, 2013 by Frank Peditto
One of the many events we attend each year is the annual American Moving and Storage Association conference. As we walked the floor of the exhibition hall this year and networked with customers, prospects and potential partners, we had the good fortune to meet the incredible team from Move for Hunger.
The connection between the non-profit and moving is one that is rooted in founder Adam Lowy’s family, who has owned a moving company for over 90 years. The organization’s network of participating movers pick-up unwanted, non-perishable food items from individuals and families who are moving and deliver them to local food banks. It’s a simple concept and one that has provided over 1.3 million pounds of food (enough for one million meals) to food banks nationwide in just three years of operation. Originally concerned with getting members due to limited resources, Move for Hunger now boasts more than 500 moving companies in its network, covering 47 states. And, Move for Hunger also recently expanded its reach into real estate.
Inspired and – pardon the bad pun – moved by our conversations with the Move for Hunger team we immediately committed our support as a Signature Partner. Right now, we’re just getting started on a few programs we can activate locally to support our food banks and we’re encouraging our partners to also lend their support to such an incredibly great cause. Stay tuned for more updates! We are thrilled to have met the Move for Hunger team and we look forward to activating locally and helping spread the word.
March 26, 2013 by Frank Peditto
As a small business owner in a niche market I continue to walk a fine line in terms of marketing investment and return on investment. Without a huge budget – or even a substantial one – my team relies on a wide variety free and low cost tools to support our sales and marketing efforts and ensure that ReloTrans remains active in the growing digital marketing and social space.
Whether networking with peers or other local small business owners, I am often asked about the marketing tools we use, how much we invest, and what works and what doesn’t. Happy to share our experience, I always start with the free tools we benefit from most.
Twitter – Business owners today and even senior level executives still struggle with social media and news syndication and the payoff of the time investment, even when the tool itself, like Twitter, is free. While the relocation industry primarily relies on Twitter as more of a news syndication device, we have found that it’s a great resource to share what we find relevant, externally from our generated content and general news, and internally as a mechanism to aggregate news and important trends for our team.
Facebook – Nearly every American has at least heard of Facebook and, while originally designed for the college aged crowd, growth continues amongst all generations, especially Baby Boomers. Additionally businesses, through new features as well as targeted advertising – note the advertising is a paid service – continue to find incremental value in terms of both content marketing and customer service through this ever-expanding social network.
LinkedIn – Aside from being the ‘Facebook for professionals’, LinkedIn has grown into a leading online recruiting site and is now expanding in the area of news syndication, social share and more. LinkedIn groups, which now 1.5 million, offer a phenomenal communication medium for small and mid-sized businesses, especially those that engage directly with corporate human resources like relocation. Additionally, it’s becoming a critical point for thought leadership syndication and aggregation and, as always, an important point of connection with existing, former and future business acquaintances
Hootsuite – If you’re using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, then Hootsuite is a tool you’re definitely going to want to check out. The free version, which allows for up to five social network connections allows you to track activity feeds in one location, schedule outgoing posts and provides basic analytics. Hootsuite is an easy to use tool, especially for small companies that have one full or even part-time person focused on marketing. Within one location, you can pretty much manage all of your profiles and activities and they offer a mobile application as well, making on-the-go activations even easier.
MailChimp – Most companies already rely on an email marketing tool to communicate with both prospective and existing customers, but if you’re not using an online tool and are looking for a starting point, then check out MailChimp. MailChimp is a free service (up to 2,000 contacts and 12,00 emails), easy to use and it offers all of the basic analytical metrics you will need to evaluate your efforts out of the gate and remain within CAN-SPAM regulations.
There are literally hundreds of incredible free tools in the market today and, thanks to technology, more continue to flood the marketplace. Take the time, investigate, start small and capitalize on these tools to support your business goals, grow your brand and improve your bottom line.
February 19, 2013 by Frank Peditto
Last month I shared my top three predictions for the relocation industry. While I didn’t call out commoditization specifically, I did cite it as a fueling agent around the continued consolidation of service providers. And, while I do believe that to be true, I also believe that the tipping point between pricing commoditization and service is around the corner for many. As a service provider, we are often requested to participate in RFPs for our customers; third-party relocation companies and van lines. RFP content typically focuses on our organizational structure, key performance indicators, technology capabilities, and, of course, price. This type of proposal request is fairly standard and it provides us with a presentation platform to demonstrate our value proposition in its entirety.
What has been more interesting to me over the past several years is to watch the evolution of corporate RFPs in the relocation industry. While not directly engaged, we’re often asked by our customers to participate directly in this process, which has certainly been an eye-opener. For many corporations, the increasing need to use a parallel RFP process for all purchased services is driven by procurement. Leading a team that includes HR, finance, and others, procurement has moved to the ‘pole position’ for relocation services. There is no doubt that the processes set forth by procurement ensure competitive pricing, but what is concerning is that some companies procure relocation services the same way that they would office supplies. As an industry veteran, I only question the ability to adequately evaluate the full array of value that a relocation service provider delivers with an online bid process for pricing that requires bundled pricing for each relocation level. Anyone with any relevant experience knows that this is just not possible for domestic relocations, so what’s a service provider to do? Do you simply go in with a ridiculous cost or even a zero cost and hope that the corporation questions their process once they receive the submissions?
While not often directly impacted by these corporate processes, I sit and scratch my head just sitting on the sidelines. How commoditized can the industry become before service is affected and the value to the employee is significantly impacted? How much degradation can service providers experience within their margins before they are forced to either compromise service quality or exit the industry all together? For large corporations, will domestic relocation become simply a loss leader for the international business? Only time will tell in terms of what will happen, but hopefully procurement departments will continue to take the time to learn the specifics around relocation and how the respective services are delivered and priced, so that, at a minimum, the RFP process is a meaningful one for both the service providers bidding and the corporation as a whole.
January 1, 2013 by Frank Peditto
It’s the start of a new year – one that hopefully brings continued economic recovery in the U.S. In corporate relocation, economic conditions over the past several years have driven down overall relocation volumes for most companies, changed policies in terms of benefits and allowances, and further commoditized the industry in terms of pricing margins. With an eye on the economy and keen focus on forecasts for slow recovery within the housing market, following are my top three predictions for relocation in 2013.
- Domestic Relocation Volumes Remain Flat: While many industry leaders compare today’s activity to that of the early 2000s, I believe that the economic and housing conditions have forever changed the way that companies approach corporate relocation. The days of benefit rich policies for mid-level employees are behind us as are times of non-transparent client/supplier relationships. We’re in a changed marketplace – one that requires new innovative thinking, a focus on partnerships and one that leverages technology to work smarter and deliver incremental value.
- International Relocation Volumes Rise: For companies with an international footprint or plans for global expansion, relocation volumes will continue to rise, thus benefitting those service providers with international capabilities. Even with increasing expenses of international relocation, more employees will be moved. That said, policies will continue to be closely monitored and managed in accordance with employee level, corporate culture, and the competitive landscape, as costs will still be critically important for the corporation.
- Consolidation Will Continue Amongst Service Providers: Even with no or slightly marginal growth in volume, corporations will remain laser focused on controlling costs. Cost models and margins that existed in the past will continue to be pressed and service providers will be challenged to provide ultimate service at a fair price with transparency at the core. This new model will force more consolidation within the industry, with the large getting larger and mid-sized service providers developing new co-partnerships to expand their value proposition to their customer base.
As a niche provider of vehicle transportation services, I continue to witness the change in the marketplace. Over the past three years, we have participated in more RPFs, invested significantly in technology developments that benefit both our customers and their corporate transferees and remained focused on service based performance incentives. Relocation is a changing industry and those that will survive and thrive need to embrace these changes today in order to survive tomorrow!
December 17, 2012 by Frank Peditto
As the holidays approach each year, and especially in light of the recent tragic events, I like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and give thanks.
From a business perspective, 2012 was a record-breaking year for ReloTrans with both our customer base and annual volume increasing to their respective highest levels. With an economy still struggling and corporate relocations relatively flat or down in the U.S. our team is especially appreciative to experience continued growth.
While growth is always a key business objective, I also look to other factors when reflecting back on our team’s successes and achievements. In 2012, we retained 100 percent of our customers - a testament to the quality of our team and their dedication to customer service and operational management.
We also retained 100 percent of our team, which I feel is critical to the service we provide to both customers and transferees. And, it’s also essential to our culture as we value the family-like environment shared amongst everyone on our team. In fact, it’s this team, our relocation coordinators, account managers and operational leaders that I give the most thanks for this year. Without their passion, dedication and energy, ReloTrans would not be able to prosper, grow and continue to deliver value-add transportation management services.
Many leaders underscore the value of the players on their team, and our management prides itself on ensuring that each member of our team is valued, respected and appreciated. Thank you to all of our team members, our extended team of suppliers and client partners and everyone who contributed to 2012. We’re looking forward to an exciting year and continued growth in 2013!
November 21, 2012 by Frank Peditto
Last month, I shared some of my favorite online resources for small business news and business insights. As I finished up that post, I immediately began thinking about online resources specific to relocation and human resources.
With industry specific sites, one of the challenges is that many require a membership to access the key information. For professionals focused on relocation, Worldwide ERC offers a myriad of excellent resources for its members, and the same applies for human resource professionals, with SHRM.
In addition to membership-based sites, there are a lot of valuable sites out there that offer free information. Some of my favorites include:
- Human Resources Executive Online: The site provides a wide range of complimentary information on management, technology products, and they offer live and on demand free, sponsored webinars. For those wanting to receive information directly, they also offer RSS feeds and seven free newsletters.
- ERE.net: I stumbled upon this site on Twitter a few months ago and love the contributed content focused on recruiting and retention. If you’re looking for insights on sourcing and hiring trends, definitely visit this site and follow them in social.
- Relocation Journal: Sponsored by MSI, Relocation Journal is an excellent industry resource offering contributed content on domestic and global relocation. The offer white papers, topic specific blogs and free on demand and live webinars.
Several leading relocation firms are also offering thought leadership sites featuring blogs, webinars and white papers including Cartus, Sirva, and Paragon.
Share your favorite online resources with us. We would love to hear from you!
October 28, 2012 by Frank Peditto
Only a decade ago, the vast majority of Americans relied on physical newspapers and magazines to get their daily dose of news and information. How things have changed. Today, it’s far more common for us to read news and get information online. But, with that said, there is so much information and it’s becoming more challenging to disseminate what is real news versus opinion based commentary, or worse yet, false information all together.
As a small business owner, I rely heavily on online news resources for information and ideas on how to improve processes, adopt new products and keep team members happy and productive. Some of my favorites include:
· Open Forum: Launched by American Express in 2009, Open Forum is an online community where you can exchange insights, get advice from experts, and build connections to help power small business success. Key content areas include Money, Management, Marketing, Technology, Travel, Lifestyle and Innovation and they also offer a mobile application for news on the go.
· Mashable: Founded in 2005, Mashable is a leading source for news, information and resources for the ‘Connected Generation’. Mashable reports on the importance of digital innovation and how it empowers and inspires people around the world and is a particularly valuable resource for information about technology innovation.
· Intuit Small Business Blog: Intuit is a leading provider of small business solutions, but they also offer two great resources online for small business, one of which is this blog, which provides insights and opinions on social media, technology, and online marketing. And, they also offer a slew of great Infographics, fun, visual representations of key data and trends.
· Harvard Business Review: Most business professionals know of the print copy of the Harvard Business Review but their online site is also an excellent resource. While some of the content is gated for subscribers, there is an abundance of free content on leadership, technology, hiring and human resources and other business related topics perfect for the small business entrepreneur.
While these are four of my daily ‘go-to’ sites, there are a few others that I rely on regularly including:
· Huffington Post
What are your favorite online news resources? Please share them with us.
September 14, 2012 by Frank Peditto
In today’s economy companies continue to modify relocation policies in an effort to save money. Still needing to support their relocating employees, companies look to trim many areas including temporary housing, storage, and auto shipment, rather than eliminate them completely. Twenty years ago, I remember corporate authorizations for moving three or four cars across the United States and shipping multiple vehicles from the United Kingdom to Australia. While those practices were common then, they would be a major exception, if authorized at all, today.
In the U.S. the vast majority of companies have moved to streamline their policies around the shipment of vehicles, encouraging more and more relocating employees to drive one vehicle from origin to destination and reimbursing the shipment of one vehicle. Typically, if the move is more than 500 or 600 miles, the company will pay for a second vehicle, especially if the relocating employee is mid- or senior level. But, authorizations for shipments beyond two automobiles are becoming more and more scarce, reserved only for the most senior positions.
Some are selecting to use their miscellaneous expense funds and pay for their second auto shipment or a boat shipment themselves, which is always an option. With total relocation expenses for a current employee homeowner exceeding $90,000 and growing, it’s unlikely that companies will stop looking for savings when it comes to relocation expenses.
August 16, 2012 by Frank Peditto
Summer is the busiest time of year for moving. Data suggests that between 30 and 40 percent of all moves in the U.S. occur between June and September. Most families’ move in the summer so as not to disrupt their children’s schooling and, for many others, it’s simply more convenient to move during the summer months.
While moving companies and relocation management firms definitely need extra help to accommodate the influx of moves, it’s most often help that is not needed year-round. While many are often reticent to hire younger talent, we have had great success in hiring high school and college students to assist our team during both the summer and holiday seasons. After all, there are over 20 million youth age 16-24 typically searching for work each summer. Granted, employment best practices still need to be implemented and it’s critical that you select students that are mature, excited to gain valuable work experience, and eager to earn an income. Like full-time team members, it’s also essential that you conduct interviews, set specific job responsibilities and provide them with a parallel onboarding program.
One of our team members began with us over six years ago, working summers while in high school and college. After graduation she approached me about joining the company, and it was an easy decision to bring her onboard full-time. She already knew our systems, processes and was integrated into the culture.
While so many business owners shy away from hiring young people to help, if you find the right talent, it’s not only effective to help with seasonal peaks, it’s a great way to cultivate future talent.