The relocation industry is comprised of a diverse set of businesses. Between third-party relocation management companies (RMCs), real estate experts, finance gurus, brokers, appraisers and more, service partners come in all different shapes, sizes, styles and personalities. This is great news, because corporations are equally diverse and all the different options make it possible to find perfect pairings. Over the course of my blogging, I want to take a look at different criteria to see what, if anything, matters most.
Size is often a hot topic during the RFP process. It usually goes something like this: robust programs require a big provider, mid-sized programs are suited to mid-sized companies and smaller programs are either handled in-house or with small relocation outfits. As I contemplate this model, I have to question its validity. When has relocation ever been that black and white? Never.
So, when it comes to finding a relocation services provider, does size really matter?
In my attempt to answer this question, I reached out to Jack Jampel, a friend of mine who currently manages domestic relocation for a leading medical technology corporation. For a number of years, he also managed global mobility for a major pharmaceutical company. Although he is not a client of ours, we have always appreciated his honest and professional approach to relocation. With more than fifteen years of experience managing relocation partners of all sizes, Jack’s insights on this issue are invaluable. Please enjoy our interview below:
Thanks for agreeing to speak with me today Jack. First, can you describe your experience in the relocation industry?
You are most welcome! I’ve managed both domestic and international relocation programs for corporations for approximately 15 years. Prior to my experience with relocation, I was heavily involved with other aspects of human resources, as well as the business itself. I find my experience outside of mobility to be a great advantage, because I have a better understanding of the direct impact that mobility has on the business and the entire company. I don’t look at things from only the mobility perspective. In fact, I look at it quite the contrary since we are here to support the business.
You are often responsible for retaining relocation services providers. Without mentioning any names, what types of relocation companies have you partnered with in the past?
I have worked with both large and mid-sized companies over the years, and both with RMC companies and other third parties. The majority of my career in mobility has been spent working with your larger RMCs, but, most recently, I’ve been working with a mid-sized firm and there are differences.
So, size does matter then?
Yes…and no. I don’t think that large companies should only go with large RMCs, or that small companies should only work with small firms. What really makes a relocation company successful is how well they manage their third party providers. That said, I do believe that some of the larger RMCs may be better equipped to handle those corporations that have high volume and more complex relocation programs.
In my experience, I do feel that small-mid-sized firms offer a more personal touch – especially for corporations that would be considered a larger client. Smaller relocation companies need to work extra hard and tend to bend over backwards to make sure transferees and their clients are satisfied because they know that, for the most part, companies still believe in the large to large and small to small RMC model. So, your mid-sized companies that have worked hard to gain the trust of larger companies are now going to go the extra mile to make sure they keep them.
I’ve also noticed that mid-sized companies have fewer layers of management and smaller client teams. This tends to lead to a better understanding of the clients’ big picture. Fewer layers also mean that mid-sized companies tend to have a quicker response model in certain areas. For example, customization of reporting is critical to the business and mid size companies seem to be able to accomplish this more quickly.
This all brings me back to what I said earlier regarding your question: does size really matter? I don’t think there should ever be a service difference between large and mid-sized companies. To me, excellent service is a reflection of corporate culture, managing third party partnerships, proper training and development opportunities – and not the size of the RMC. Global Mobility is a very stressful business. While I understand that there will always be issues, relocation companies of all sizes should always take the best possible care of both the clients and transferees.
What are the three most important things you look for from your suppliers today, regardless of their size?
Is there anything else you think our readers would find interesting?
Suppliers need to be an extension of the client company. The responsibility of maintaining this relationship successfully is mutual. In fact, I have stopped calling relocation companies suppliers – now I call them business partners. We should strive for great service from our business partners but, given the stressful nature of our business, RMCs should never feel intimidated or threatened. This would prohibit them from giving us the honest and reliable service. If there is discomfort in the relationship, then mobility managers should examine their role as well – honesty and trust on both sides are imperative for an optimal partnership.
Thank You Jack for taking the time to speak with me today!
Are you a corporate HR person who has had experience with both large and small to midsize relocation management companies? What are the differences you see? Does size matter? Leave your thoughts below.