June 29, 2012 by Frank Peditto
An average of 11.6 percent of U.S. residents move each year. Whether it’s a move down the street, across the country or around the world, it’s said that moving is one of the most stressful events in ones life. As we enter our peak season, following are a few tips to reduce the stress and possibly eliminate a few headaches.
- Hire professionals. It seems obvious, but people are always looking for a deal. Professional movers are experienced, insured and will alleviate a large amount of the stress, and risk, of moving. A great resource is Moving.org, provided by the American Moving and Storage Association.
- Get multiple quotes. Invest the time and after you have pre-qualified two to three movers, have them conduct an in-home survey, which will provide them with the information and details to offer a competitive, accurate quote. Review those quotes side-by-side to check on the amount of packing materials, additional labor, full replacement coverage insurance, and whether or not unpacking is provided. It’s also critical that they have the location of your new home, so they can assess the neighborhood and truck access to determine whether or not a shuttle may be needed. Taking time with this process will help eliminate any surprise expenses during the move.
- Don’t pack yourself. If you pack your own goods, they are not covered by insurance, so it’s critical, and a lot more convenient, to have the professionals pack the vast majority of your items.
- Prepare in advance of move day. This could really be it’s own post, but in a nutshell it’s critical that you get rid of anything you’re not moving in advance, organize the rooms according to how you want them packed and don’t leave a lot of things for yourself to do on the day of the move.
- Hire a babysitter. If you have kids, it’s wise to hire a babysitter or have them scheduled for a play date on the days of the move. Your focus needs to be 100 percent on the activity going on in the home and you need to be there to answer questions and ensure that the movers are working efficiently.
While I don’t think there is ever a ‘perfect’ move, research and preparation will make a huge difference in your experience. Don’t overbook, don’t wait to the last minute, and don’t worry – you’ll make the move.
June 10, 2012 by Frank Peditto
Over the past several months I have become increasingly aware, and somewhat frightened, of how obsessed people are with their smartphones. I remember when television was the newest technology – and, in those days, there were only a few channels compared to the hundreds of options we have today. So too, do I recall the days of rotary phones and then the initial cell phone which felt like it weighed 50 pounds and came in a rather large bag.
Today our phones are, in actuality, miniature portable computers. We make calls, text, use email, make purchases, get directions, do banking, and so much more. According to a March 2012 report from Pew Internet, 46 percent of adult Americans own a smartphone, an 11 percent increase over just one year ago. Honestly, watching people at the office, in the airport and just out and about, I thought the number would be even higher as it seems like everywhere I look, I see someone on a smartphone.
While I don’t question the value of a smartphone, I do question the obsession with it. I love that my iPhone affords me additional flexibility when I am out of the office or away from my house, but even I am realizing that I have become more dependent on it. A friend recently told me about a survey that said that the average smartphone owner is within three feet of their phone over 95 percent of the time, a scary realization, but one that definitely resonates.
Even more alarming is the connectedness that it has led to for professionals. A recent survey from Prosper Mobile Insights noted 78.8 percent of smartphone and tablet owners not only vacationed with their devices, but also used them ‘all the time’ while away. A must have today, smartphones do provide a convenience, but at what expense. Many Americans are already challenged with maintaining a work-life balance, are these technologies just making it worse? Please weigh-in on this topic by posting a comment.
May 6, 2012 by Frank Peditto
Last month, I wrote about the key criteria that companies rely on when selecting an auto transportation partner. Aside from price and technology, much of that blog involved the team members and their ability to communicate and demonstrate the value of the organization. As a small business owner, I have always been a strong advocate of having a positive and healthy work environment and creating a culture of dedication and fun. Of course, I have also realized the challenge of keeping driving an evolving culture and how critical it is for me as well as my team members to make that happen. It’s important for us to have happy and engaged team members at all levels within the organization. How do we do that, especially in a challenging economy?
- We begin with hiring the right people. We select team members that are dedicated to what we do and understand how important their role is to our day-to-day operations and our overarching business objectives.
- We offer competitive salaries and benefits and create a family atmosphere with the core values of respect and honesty. If a team member makes a mistake, we encourage them to bring that to our attention and together we work to remediate any issues. We don’t want an environment where team members are fearful and ‘living on the edge’.
- We provide ongoing training and development opportunities for our team members so that they continue to grow their skill set and their contribution level to the company. We value ideas from the team on new learning and ongoing educational opportunities.
- We provide positive, public recognition for individual and team efforts. Sometimes a simple ‘great job’ is all it takes, but all too often, because of time and the general chaos of a business, it is forgotten. It’s so important as a leader to make sure you’re aware of what’s going on and take time for individual recognition.
- We have fun. While it’s hard during a busy summer season or a vacation week, having a quick laugh or taking a ten minute break for an impromptu ice cream party is a great way to say thank you and ensure that your team members feel valued.
It’s not always simple, but having happy employees is an investment that yields more than just great work, it provides a true family atmosphere in the workplace and supports a culture of respect and honesty. While this is something internal in our company, it transcends to our customer relationships as well. And, while some leaders focus only on the monetary reward the other elements are as, if not more, important to keeping and growing your existing talent base.
April 11, 2012 by Frank Peditto
When asked the question, “What are the key criteria that companies use when selecting an auto transportation supplier?” I think many would assume that the number one response would be price. Of course, price is always key in most decisions around services and products, but it’s not the only factor. Interestingly enough, we have found that our clients are equally concerned with service and together service and price determine the overall value that they and their transferees receive.
So, what are the key criteria for companies today when selecting a transportation partner?
- Overall client responsiveness - Experienced account management is key in today’s business environment and having the right people on your team leading this function is critical to your success. Clients need to feel that their account manager is working on their behalf and is an extension of their relocation or human resources department. Your team leader or account manager needs to know the client’s policy, key performance indicators (KPIs) and service standards, and their culture.
- Client communication – Again, the team selected for each account is critical. Both the account manager and relocation coordinator(s) need to ensure that they are effectively managing the transport and keeping both the client and transferee updated regularly during the process.
- Technology – As the relocation industry continues to mature in terms of its reliance on technology, having a sophisticated operating system is more and more important. And, these systems must offer automation benefits, including workflow, and self-service portals for both the client and the transferee.
- Reporting – Statistics are key to a successful client relationship and reporting is imperative. Ten years ago reporting was limited to transactional reports, but today, customers expect more detailed analytics and also customized reporting to provide them with an additional tool to use in their day-to-day reporting within their organization.
- Performance – Customers today expect key performance indicators to be met or exceeded and, in the auto transport industry, carriers are evaluated on numerous indicators including, but not limited to, on-time pick up and delivery percentages, low claims frequency and expedient claim settlement times.
While some still work based on the adage of, ‘You’re only as good as your last move’ we develop true business partnerships with our clients to support their customers and the transferees. To do that we know that while price is always important, having a proven account management structure, experienced and dedicated counselors and making continued investments in technology will provide us with the foundation for success in exceeding our existing customers needs and building new client relationships in the future.
March 9, 2012 by Frank Peditto
It’s not often that I find myself wanting to revisit a blog topic, but, as the economy continues its slow recovery and businesses face tighter and tighter budgets, I felt the need to share some of my additional thoughts on making the most out of trade shows. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, there are more than 13,000 trade events each year in the U.S. with an additional one million meetings. And, it’s estimated that businesses spend over $100 million annually on trade shows. While organizations have definitely cut back in terms of spend compared to events in the early 2000s, trade shows and events are still a key part of marketing, at least for the short term.
As I mentioned in my post from June of last year, “My past experience with trade shows has been that you ‘have to be there’ because if you’re not, your industry often thinks you are out of business, and that most are filled with competitors and not real business opportunities.” Rather than continue the deliberation of whether or not to attend, I wanted to share some of my simple success tips to making the most out of any show.
Prior to committing to any event, we weigh the pros and cons for our team in attending the event.
- What is our estimated budget for attending and exhibiting at the event? What is our view of a successful show? The latter may not always be closed sales, as we also consider current customer interaction as well as developing new relationships.
- Will this be an opportunity to meet and/or follow-up with new prospects?
- Which of our current clients will be attending?
- Are our competitors attending? If so, who?
After the initial discussion, we establish a goal for the team. For example, in an industry event it may be to hold three client meetings, follow-up with four existing prospects and cultivate five new relationships.
Once we make our final decision to exhibit, we talk about our pre-event, in event and post-event strategies.
- Do we have the email/mail list of exhibitors? Is it worth an additional financial investment to purchase a list? From there, we develop our pre-event marketing communications plan.
- Is there a speaking opportunity at the educational sessions for any of our team members?
- What will our in event presence look like? Booth, collaterals, giveaways (always key to select levels of giveaways and ensure that they are valuable enough that the individual wants to bring them home), and any interactive demonstration (iPad, laptop, etc.). What is our staffing strategy for the booth – two working and one floating through the aisles?
- What is the post event follow-up strategy? Who is the primary contact for follow-up? Is there a post-event offer? Giveaway? Communication medium (phone, email, mail)?
Finally, we do a post-event debrief. During this meeting, we discuss what worked, what didn’t and we include other individuals from the team as well as those who attended so that additional questions may be asked and ideas cultivated for the next event.
While virtual conferences continue to gain popularity in many industries, I am confident that it may be a few years before those fully infiltrate relocation and transportation. Until then, we will continue to make prudent investments, improve our experience and that for our customers, and work to ensure we meet or exceed our goals at each event.
February 3, 2012 by Frank Peditto
Relocation activity is beginning to pick-up again and transferees are preparing their vehicles for transport. With years of experience and working with tens of thousands of transferees, we wanted to share our top 10 reminders to ensure a seamless move for your vehicle.
- Ensure that your vehicle is still insured throughout the duration of the move. While the vehicle is insured via the carrier, traditional auto insurance is also required for coverage of ‘Acts of God’ and glass.
- Leave less than one-half of a tank of gas in the vehicle. Remember that the transport driver will need to drive your vehicle on and off of his truck.
- Remove all non-factory installed options like snow and bike racks, ground spoilers, etc.
- Transport your household goods with your mover and not in your vehicle. Per the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) rules and regulations, the transportation of personal items on a truck licensed only to carry vehicles is prohibited. And, it can create huge issues for the driver and others. We had a customer that loaded the back of his truck with boxes of books from North Carolina to Wyoming and, while crossing the plains of the Midwest, the driver got into a bad storm and the wind whipped the cover off the back of the truck. The boxes exploded all over the highway. The cover blew away and was never recovered and the customer’s pickup sustained substantial damage, as did several other cars on the truck, all because of the books.
- Provide your relocation counselor with an active phone number for contact at both origin and destination so that they (and the driver) can reach you with updates or any questions.
- Prepare your vehicle for any climate change. By replenishing coolants, transmission oil, anti-freeze and other fluids.
- Ensure that all alarms are disconnected or disabled. If they are not disabled and are triggered they can lead to drained batteries and create challenges for the driver.
- Remove any personal items from your vehicle prior to transport (cell phones, GPS systems, radar detectors, removable radios, household items, EZ passes, etc.) These are not covered by transport insurance if they are damaged or lost.
- Remove or fully retract all antennas prior to pick-up.
- Remove any and all items that are considered flammable, hazardous, corrosive or explosive are dangerous and illegal for movers to transport from your vehicle. This is one that can lead to serious challenges. We had a transferee moving their SUV from California to North Carolina. While in transit, the transporter truck was stopped in Texas. The entire back of the SUV was filled with farm chemicals. The Texas State Police intended on confiscating the vehicle but instead the driver talked them into just taking the farm chemicals. They also obtained the transferee’s address and phone number. When we called to advise him of the issue, he was only concerned with the return of his chemicals, which then were followed-up on by the FBI.
While many of these reminders seem obvious, it’s amazing how many of these items we come across weekly if not daily in our conversations with drivers. Each can lead to its own issue and possibly endanger others. The key to a seamless and successful vehicle shipment is to be prepared, follow the guidelines, and remain in contact with your coordinator.
December 28, 2011 by Frank Peditto
As we end 2011, we reflect on where the relocation industry has
been and where it’s headed. Rather than pontificate ourselves, we reached out
to one of the foremost experts, Ms. Peggy Smith
, Chief Executive Officer of
for a candid interview. Here’s what she had to say.
Question: According to the latest Worldwide ERC Transfer and Volume Survey
(2011), relocation activity began to increase in 2010 and is expected to
continue to grow. What do you see for 2012 in terms of relocation growth and in
what areas (new hires, experienced, global, types of industries, etc.)?
Ms. Smith: I keep saying that flat is the “new up”… meaning, of course, that
we feel fortunate as an industry if we can maintain and not lose any traction
that we’ve gained in the last year or so. From an industry perspective, we’re
hearing that volume will be up modestly. I was pleased to see that in a recent
survey of hiring intentions that the U.S. hiring outlook for early 2012 appears
to be the most promising since 2008: it noted that 14 percent of employers expect
to add to their workforce in the first three months of 2012.
Question: Coming from the corporate sector, you have a strong history in the
relocation industry. How do you feel the industry has changed, if at all,
permanently due to the last three to five year of economic challenges?
Ms. Smith: There’s more customization of programs and policies – this serves
two purposes. First, it allows a company to individualize assistance when possible
for the range of employees and needs that we have in the workplace today, and
it also helps control costs by “sizing” benefits appropriately to either proven
or untested talent. There’s more incorporation of mobility within the talent
management structure. And there is certainly more change coming in worldwide
mobility patterns based on a country’s commitment to growth and corporate
Question: Employee reluctance continues to rise, primarily due to the real
estate market and the fact that one in four Americans is underwater on their
mortgage. What top three strategies have you seen at Worldwide ERC of how
corporations are working with employees to mitigate these challenges?
Ms. Smith: One significant shift we’ve seen is that pre-decision counseling
programs are now an integral part of the domestic relocation process. Some of
the other ways our member companies changed policy include incorporating
“incent to rent” programs, property management services at origin if a family
decides not to sell; and the development of long-term commuter benefits (e.g.,
so that the employee can continue to live at their current location, but
commutes back and forth to the HQ as needed).
Question: As an organization, what do you feel is most valuable as a resource
in today’s economy to your membership? What tools make the most impact to them?
Ms. Smith: The ability to benchmark within the mobility industry is very
powerful. For our corporate and government employer members, we have two
benchmarking forums – one for global and one for U.S. issues – where, 24/7, our
employer members can pose a question and get responses in seconds from their
peers – that’s a phenomenal benefit in our rapid-fire environment. Because
investing in training in a tight economy is a concern, we have gotten great
response to our webinar series, where a member can access a free or moderately
priced webinar and invite multiple employees to attend. We have opened our live
meeting programs on a complimentary basis to corporations who haven’t attended
within the last 3 years so they can experience our conferences… and it expands
the corporate community and mindshare for other corporate and relocation
members. We’re also expanding our government relations resources, which are
already searchable and accessible online, to address more global issues in
addition to the strong base of U.S. information we have.
Question: With the ongoing advent of technology and the ability for employees
to work from anywhere in many positions, telecommuting has continued to grow
over the past ten years. Do you feel that this will have an impact on
Smith: Good question! The short answer is “yes.” There
is no doubt that the ability to work remotely changes the scenario for an
industry where physically moving someone to the job has traditionally been
necessary to achieve a strategic outcome. Time will show us the full effect of
technology on the mobility industry, and I believe we’ll see a creative mix of
traditional and new work options. We’ve seen some work structures that are a
product of our current business environment: short-term assignments and
extended business travel are a couple of the most prominent. And telecommuting
is gaining ground as more employees have the ability to effectively work at a distance
with the technology we have today. But the other side of this issue, as most
employers will tell you, is that not every job can be executed well at a
distance, no matter how sophisticated the technology. So much of what must
happen on the global front, for example, is relationship-driven, and we need to
recruit and manage talent with a global mindset who can forge fresh business
channels and partnerships for a company in a new frontier.
Thank you to Ms. Smith for taking the time to
participate in our blog this month and share her views and expertise with our
team. We appreciate your insight and your time. In short, the relocation
industry is one, like many in today’s economic climate, which is changing.
Unlike past cycles where there are more ups and downs, this period of change is
more of an evolution where the process is changing and the dynamics of relocation
We wish all of our readers a very Happy New
Year and we look forward to 2012.
November 4, 2011 by Frank Peditto
I never imagined writing a blog post
on whether or not to ‘tweet’, but, as Twitter
continues to grow, it’s a
question more and more individuals and businesses alike are asking themselves.
It’s hard to believe that Twitter, which now reports over 100 million active
users and more than 350 billion tweets per day, launched just over five years
If you follow us (@ReloTrans) on
Twitter you will see that we have about 150 followers, which in the Twitter
universe is extremely low. But, our numbers continue to grow, so we remain
optimistic of its potential long-term value both in terms of brand exposure and
also potentially customer service. After all, according to Pew Internet
Research, 13% of online adults are using Twitter – a percentage that rose 5%
from only 8% in just six months. And, during that same time period, use of
Twitter amongst adults 25-34 more than doubled from 7% to 19% and it rose from
8% to 14% with adults 35-44.
While I was, like many, skeptical of
this online medium at first, a marketing friend of mine encouraged me to create
a Twitter account for my company. As first, I protested saying that I didn’t
have the time or knowledge to tweet each day and also that our industry wasn’t
really engaged in social media. After a lot of additional discussion, I finally
gave in and ReloTrans was on Twitter. As I began I was tweeting once a day or
maybe twice and I maintained a laser focus on what I felt would be resources or
articles auto transportation specialists would find relevant. After scouring
the Internet regularly, I realized that there wasn’t that much regular news, so
I began expanding my daily reads to include information about travel and
transportation at large and then also the larger market of relocation and human
resources. Today, I begin each weekday morning with a cup of coffee and a scan
of several leading online sites that provide free content. When I find
something relevant to the industry, managers, small business executives, or the
community at large, I tweet it. It also educates me as I read each of the
articles prior to posting. And, in addition to sharing it on Twitter, it feeds
through to my personal LinkedIn account and it could feed automatically to our corporate
Facebook page as well.
What has been most surprising to me
is how easy it is. We use a free tool to schedule and send messages and through
that tool, Hootsuite, I can schedule and post to Twitter, Facebook and
LinkedIn. And, through sites like Mashable, I can stay on top of the current
trends and continue my education about the world of Twitter.
While we haven’t been able to
directly link any new business to using Twitter, I have found it to be a valuable
tool, not only to serve as a resource to our industry, but also an internal
resource as I have shared many of the articles I found while looking for
content for our Twitter account with our internal team.
Looking to get started on Twitter,
check out the Twitter blog and also the Mashable how to guide.
October 3, 2011 by Frank Peditto
In the transportation industry,
there are two primary types of companies, asset based and non-asset based. Asset
based companies are those that own their own equipment. For example, in the
niche of vehicle transportation, asset based companies own their own trucks and
their driver’s work for the parent company. All of the operations are typically
centralized through one primary dispatch. On the flip side are the non-asset
based companies, of which ReloTrans® is one. Typically referred to as ‘brokers’, non-asset based
companies do not own any of their own equipment, but rather partner with
numerous carriers nationwide and even internationally.
From a service perspective, asset based providers
may offer customers lower rates as they own their own equipment and, as such, sometimes
have more flexibility in pricing, especially if they have a driver needing to
get from one location to another and a customer with a parallel need. Some may
argue that asset based providers also have more control over the service
quality being that their drivers are employees of their company.
Non-asset based companies rely on their network
or database of providers, which allows them to be 100 percent customer focused
when selecting a carrier and driver for their customer. In many cases, they are
also able to obtain bids from multiple providers, all of the same quality, to
ensure that the customer receives the lowest possible cost. They are not
limited by physical equipment or ‘assets’ and their capabilities are scalable
based on the number of partners in their network.
While both types of companies have advantages
and disadvantages, our recommendation to customers is to select the company
that best meets their needs, not only in terms of the physical transportation
of goods or vehicles, but also in terms of their business needs in reporting,
communications and technology services. In this business it’s often said that,
‘you are only as good as your last move,’ and in today’s competitive landscape
that is even more true.
September 1, 2011 by Frank Peditto
Starting a new job is never an easy
task. It’s a daunting one for the employer as well as the new employee. Over
the past year, we have increased our overall team by more than 25 percent and,
while our team is thrilled to be growing, especially in the current economy, our
growth has forced our leadership team to take a closer look at our onboarding
While many large organizations have entire
teams dedicated to onboarding, in many small and mid-sized companies the
responsibility falls on the leadership team and a secondary team of
pre-identified trainers. Needless to say there are a variety of tools, top 10
tips, videos, white papers, checklists and more available online about onboarding,
but, being a company reliant on our service and our professional team, we have
found it more successful to build our own plan.
Over the past several months our
plan has evolved as each new employee has joined our team. We have paid close
attention to the individual, their background, and their new responsibilities to
not only reinforce a positive integration into the ReloTrans business, culture
and team, but also to ask them and the onboarding team for feedback and ideas
on how to improve the process for the next new team member. We have even included
new team members in our onboarding process as more employees join our
Even with our plan evolving over
time, there are a few basic keys to success that have worked for our
- Communicate with the new employee prior
to their start day providing them with:
- Who they will be asking for when
they arrive, where to go, and what time to be there
- A high-level schedule of first week
- If provided, a benefits package so
that they may review in advance and come in with either completed forms or
- The dress code and a bit about the
corporate culture of the organization
- In advance of their first day ensure
- They have functional phone and email
- Their desk is prepared and supplied
with basic office supplies, business cards, and a welcome card from the team
- The onboarding team is succinct with
who is doing what and when; a calendar is helpful
- Their immediate working team
understands the challenges faced being a new employee and is well-versed in
offering lengthier explanations etc. (for example, if your organization or
industry uses a lot of acronyms, having those explained)
- On their first day:
- Everyone knows their roles and
responsibilities for onboarding
- A tour is provided with initial
- Lunch is planned
- A leader is checking-in periodically
throughout the day
- Throughout their first month:
- Leaders are checking-in and ensuring
that they are on track in terms of both knowledge and comfort
- Additional social events are
scheduled; getting to know new team members is critical to the synergy of the
team, especially in a smaller organization
- Feedback is requested from both the
onboarding team and the new team member
- What went well, what can be
improved, and what was missing
- Support is offered
- Positive reinforcement is provided
- Feedback is requested
While some of these ‘keys’ are
practices that we should have with all team members, in busy times, they are
often lost. Onboarding is also a great time to bring your team together and
offer others the change to re-train or refresh certain skills.