Reducing the pain of relocations

With transferee stress levels at an all-time high because of the pandemic, movers and their customers must put their heads together to make relocations as pain-free as possible. Here, William (Bill) Taylor, Director, Global Mobility and Travel at international development consulting firm Chemonics International Inc, discusses why straightforward, transparent and empathetic move management, together with clear and abundant communication, creates benefits for all involved

Things are hard for all of us and the pandemic has added stress to our lives. We all know moving can be one of life’s greatest stressors. Now more than ever it is appreciated when our partners show extra patience with our staff who are having to relocate under greater pressure than before.

The world is on edge and that undercurrent is raising normal levels of stress. It may seem obvious, but I’ve found that giving our transferees a few more minutes of my time here and there, to listen to them, builds confidence that I’m in their corner and going to take care of them. Many have said that they have so much on their minds that it’s a relief to know I am on the job – it’s one less thing they need to worry about because they know things will be handled correctly. I think movers can do the same.

Lead with empathy

We who work in this business know the flow and the process of moving, including what’s normal and what’s not normal. We handle these requests day in and day out. We tend to take our knowledge, and what’s in our heads, for granted, but many shippers are new to the process and don’t know what we know.

As mentioned above, extra empathy for the relocating employees – to walk them through the process, explain the major milestones in the move and, especially, how communication can be expected through the process, from start to finish – will manage expectations and will be very welcome.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Dovetailing with the above, it’s hard to communicate with the transferee too much. I think I’m seeing a greater desire for communication than normal. Perhaps our employees are more worried about their things arriving in a timely fashion or having their shipments disappear. Again, this gets back to the added stress of the times – anything we can do together to defuse that stress goes a long way toward a positive experience for the transferee.

Make your clients look good

Management is constantly asking me to provide updates on the general health and welfare of the transportation network, and how it affects our transferees, who are the lifeblood of our business. Proactively offer information on topics that are relevant to what’s going on in the transportation network. If there are major changes to a normal pattern or way of doing business, advise us as quickly as possible.

Our management team, like every management team in every industry, is trying to look into its crystal ball to see what the future holds, through and after COVID. It is constantly reaching out for information from all corners of our business to triangulate trends in what’s happening. Duty of care to our transferees features prominently in their considerations and anything that affects that relationship is welcome information. Keep your clients informed before they ask.

‘It’s hard to communicate with the transferee too much’. Taylor also recommends giving updates to your clients before they ask for them.

Educate your clients

Unless you come from a moving company or forwarder, there’s a lot on the client side we don’t know about your daily operations. I’ve always appreciated our business partners who come to me and say ‘actually, Bill, it doesn’t work this way. Here’s what we propose…’.

I’ve been in this industry a few years and I’m not shy about saying there are still things I don’t know. I’ve educated my business partners to know they can come to me and inform me. A former SVP at my company had 12 management principles he shared with his staff, and I still have a copy on my wall. One of those principles states: ‘Practise transparency. Management by intrigue is a sign of weakness.’

FIDI’s initiative to open its training to clients is a bold move and a show of strength by its members. I sincerely applaud FIDI’s efforts and think it’s going to reap tremendous benefits for Affiliates and their clients.

The more I know about your internal workings the more I can set up my programme to mirror what’s feasible, and create a framework of reasonable expectations within our service agreement that is fair to us and to you. The more I know, the more I can make that happen.

It also helps me head off a lot of questions from both our transferees and senior management when I can explain not only the ‘how’, but also the ‘why’ things are happening the way they are happening and the resulting costs. It’s absolutely a win-win.

Help us help you

I believe firmly that this is a two-way street and it’s truly in our interest to ensure your success. If you’re successful, we are successful.

If you are encountering a specific problem or challenge and need our help to manage expectations – or adjust policies, on an interim basis or permanent basis – please open a dialogue with us.

Let us know the challenges you are facing and how we can help. We may have flexibility, and it may be in our mutual interest to relook at things and come up with solutions together. After all, we are truly in this together.   

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