As the world systematically shut down in 2020, movers were among those who stayed open and demonstrated what our industry stands for. Movers had flown under the radar in the relocation ecosystem for some time, providing a service that some saw as simple manual labour – but, during this dark time, we managed to shine a positive light on the industry.
Some relocation management companies and corporations saw an industry that could be squeezed for ‘economies’. An industry that needed management, discipline, and to be told how to be more efficient. A mover was defined as an easily replaced low-tech service, interchangeable and not overly sophisticated.
After a year of COVID-19, I believe we can define the term ‘mover’ in much clearer terms.
M = Mobility: You could argue that without a ‘move’ (as in the case of a short-term assignment) you are dealing with extended travel, not relocation. Only when the employee physically moves are they ‘relocating’. Moving is the pivotal point in the process, and the difference between relocating and ‘just visiting’.
The truck showing up at their door makes everything very real. It makes our crews the face of relocation and, with the use of technology, possibly the first live people they meet in the entire, often stressful, process.
This personal touchpoint sets the stage for the productivity of the employee in the new location – but also seems to be the focus of corporations and some relocation management companies trying to reduce cost.
Moving is one of the industries with the largest investment in manpower, equipment, and infrastructure. But it also seems to always be on the chopping block – as an ‘easy to replace’, manual, low-tech service that can be squeezed on price or replaced by a line-up of hungry alternative movers.
O = Obligation: Throughout the pandemic, our industry has had an obligation to continue providing a hands-on service. Virtual surveys eliminated some direct contact with the public, but our crews still had to go into unknown homes and physically move everything.
This was not a business-as-usual year. Our employees displayed heroic effort. Working under extreme restrictions, we exceeded our obligations.
V = Vigilance: It has been important not to let our guard down. As the pandemic grew, travel restrictions, safety standards and protocols changed every day. Global shipping lanes were affected, and borders were closed. Our industry dealt with local and regional restrictions, and global logistics.
Internal teams were set in place to track changes and report them to clients and our personnel. The logistics of providing a transportation service are made up of first-time creative solutions. The industry demonstrated the flexibility needed, pivoting daily to do the very best we could for clients and staff.
E = Essential Service: Movers were deemed as an essential service in many countries, solidifying the value our industry brings to the table. Our industry is made up of independent local businesses – your hometown heroes. They have been dealing with new safety protocols, new laws and labour shortages. We were trying to hit transit times – with some transferees thinking they were ordering an Uber.
R = Resilience: The industry has demonstrated the resilience that has kept many organisations in business for generations.
We are portrayed by some as an industry that needs management, that lacks innovation, that is devoid of processes and resourcefulness. In the light of 2020, however, I believe you saw what this business is really about – a group of independent professionals working extremely hard to ensure that the cornerstone relocation, the move, is handled professionally.
I am proud to be a mover and if you are, too, hold your head high. You, my friend, are a Mover, with a capital M.