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Mike Canning

The Spirit of the 4th of July

Happy Fourth of July

As a child, I was taught about the Revolutionary War as a historic event, where we “won independence from England”.  I learned the names, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, etc.  I went on a field trip to the Liberty Bell and thought to myself that it must have been some loud party to make that crack!  Beyond that, the 4th of July was a summer party, filled with fireworks, barbecues, swimming and watermelon.

Many of you may have a similar vision when you think of the holiday.  Most of us, however, have little understanding of what the 4th of July represented in 1776.  What began with descent and a conflict in Massachusetts in 1775, would eventually break out into an all-out war that would last for another 8 years and finally achieve the independence we sought.  In fact, on July 2, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was finalized (it was voted on and approved on July 4th), not only was the fate of the country an uncertainty.  But, many parts of the 13 colonies didn’t see the vision, nor need for independence with the same fervency.

The Declaration of Independence committee actually consisted of 5 people, appointed by the Continental Congress in April of 1776.  Thomas Jefferson was selected, for his writing skills, to be the chief architect.  The final wording was a negotiation between committee members, to ensure the appeal would be unanimous, regardless of where in the colonies one lived.  In fact, some speculate that Jefferson’s selection, as well as that of George Washington’s, as Commander-in-Chief, were strategic and pivotal in gaining support from southern states, such as Virginia, where both men lived.  This notice to the King, went far beyond just another grievance to fall on deaf ears.  It was a statement of how the colonies would become a country, where the people would be governed by representatives, with the understanding that rights of the people were not granted by government, but the other way around.

For the 56 people who signed the Declaration, it was more than just a commitment to building a new nation, it was an act of treason against England, punishable by death.  I wonder if John Hancock was thinking that as he left the largest visible signature.  Once signed, there was no going back.

I grew up in a family that celebrates every 4th of July with a certain pride and appreciation for those who founded this country and everyone who has stood their ground to protect and preserve its founding principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In a time where rhetoric and dividing debate seem unavoidable, we should all take a pause and appreciate what we have and our ability to continually improve upon it.

 

“The establishment of our new Government seemed to be the last great experiment for promoting human happiness.”

                                                                                                                                       -George Washington

 

 

Happy 4th of July to you and your family!

How can your Relocation Management Company help you in the recruiting process?

While your RMC is most likely not recruiting on your behalf, there are many ways they can assist in finding the right fit, culturally and financially.

 

The Candidate Pool –  As you gather your list of candidates, especially in those, hard to fill positions, you will usually need to look outside the immediate market place for talent.  One aspect that needs to be addressed is the associated costs of bringing the desired candidate(s) to the position location.  Before making an offer, have your RMC prepare a cost projection, to include the anticipated needs and costs, including the specific tax consequences.  This will help you see your options in an economic light.  It will also enable you to tailor your benefit package to address needs, while keeping the costs under control.Right Fit

The Counseling –  A jigsaw puzzle piece needs to fit.  But, the puzzle must also fit the piece!  In other words, when you have a candidate that would work well in the position, the candidate also needs to determine that the move is right for them and their family.  Your RMC can play a pivotal role in helping the candidate make their decision.  First, the RMC can counsel the candidate on the relocation program and benefits and show them how the process would work from beginning to end.  If they have specific concerns the counselor can come back to the employer with recommendations and viable solutions.

The Resources –  Be it a single candidate, or a group move, the RMC can help gather on the ground, local resources, such as Realtors, lenders, inspection agencies and more to help the candidate(s) get the answers they need to make an informed decision.

The Discovery Trip- The RMC usually has reputable resources to line up options for local tours, previewing homes, schools and other points of interest. By getting your service partner to arrange these services, you are more likely to get actionable feedback to aid in your negotiations.

 

As HR departments have taken on more and more responsibility, with fewer staff members, they need the assistance of their service partners to cover all the bases.  Utilizing your RMC in the pre-offer/pre-decision phase, is a very useful tool to assure a right fit; a cost contained process; and a positive experience for the eventual transferee.

 

Memorial Day Thoughts

Donald Vautrinot grave

 

This weekend, most of us will enjoy the fact that we have an extra day to relax, work in the yard, or even clean out the DVR.  But, please do take a little time to think of your relatives, neighbors and friends, who have sacrificed time, safety and in far too many cases, their lives, in defense of our country and protecting us all from harm.

 

Several years ago, my sister, painstakingly pieced together, in chronological order, letters between my father, his 3 siblings and parents.  The letters began during the Great Depression and spoke of challenges and the day to day events of a wholesome, close knit family.  When the war broke out, my father’s older brother went off to naval flight school to become a pilot.  My father went off to Yale’s V-12 Naval Officer training school.  Their quiet town life was replaced with the harsh realities of a world at war.  The letters about catching fish or swimming in the Adirondack Mountains were replaced with prayers for safety and updates on relatives or acquaintances missing or dead.  In one letter my grandmother wrote of my father’s cousin Donald, who was missing in Bataan.    The Japanese forces attacked there on December 8, 1941, after Pearl Harbor.  Donald had only arrived there a month earlier, with hopes of becoming an aviator.  He died a few months later in a prison camp, after enduring the Bataan Death march, where 60,000 – 80,000 Pilipino and American POWs were forced to march nearly 70 miles under severe conditions of abuse and random killings.  The Bataan Death March was later classified as a war crime.  Donald was only 23 years old.

 

I relay this somber story because, throughout our country’s history, and today, Americans have and continue to heed the call of duty laying down their lives in defense of our freedoms.  Please do enjoy this weekend. But, take some time to think of these heros and be thankful for the good fortunes we have realized due to their sacrifices.

Spring is Coming!!!

The Spring Market is Coming!

In years past, we have written blogs about Spring cleaning and preparing homes for a brisker housing market.  This year, all signs are pointing to a stronger market than in the past several, with more options for a more motivated set of buyers.

 

The whys:

Fewer Under Water Sellers:  As the housing market improves the number of people owing more on their home than its current value is decreasing.  According to CNBC, Americans today have three trillion dollars more equity than they did when the market last bottomed out in 2012.  People are no longer trapped in a home that they cannot sell without bringing money to the closing.

Housing Starts Are Sporadic: As more and more markets recover, the number of available existing homes competing for home purchasers increases, cutting into demand for new options.

Interest rates will likely be rising: One thing that has been largely missing over the past several years has been urgency to take advantage of remarkably low mortgage interest rates.  With no increase on the horizon and uncertainty in the market place, there were more tire kickers than trigger pullers.  With the rates likely to rise, and the economy showing positive signs, this has all changed.

Rental Rates are Still Rising: According to Apartment List, rents are up month-over-month in 57 of 100 largest cities. As they rise, it is making more and more sense to buy, where your monthly interest is still deductible and your monthly payment stays constant.

While the market is improving, it is impoHome Garden Imagertant for home sellers to do their homework and not test the waters too high for too long.  Today’s buyers are savvy, with more on-line tools to get a good overview of each market.  As a buyer, you too will need to be on top of things.  Today’s homes that are priced appropriately will sell fast.  Be ready with a mortgage pre-approval and a good understanding of what your payment will be for any given price and the monthly cost per $1,000 increase in mortgage amount.

If you are a transferee, make sure your Realtors at both ends are responsive and forthcoming with actionable information.  Home buying and selling can be very stressful.  But, the better prepared you are, the quicker you can get through it and focused on the next adventure!

Do We Really Need That Anymore?

Every so often we go through an exercise where we look at our processes and ask ourselves why we do the things we do and why do we do them that way.  In one of our recent exercises we looked at our photo copier. In its prime the behemoth energy sucker sat in the corner and clanked and clicked its way through hundreds, even thousands of pieces of paper and pounds of toner in a day.  However, as we become more and more immersed in a digital and eco-friendly world, the continual whirl and occasional frustrated user clearing a jam, has died down to the point where occasionally someone will ask, where do we keep the copier.  Today, I can proudly respond, “We don’t have one!” 

Analytics and the Review Process

Reviewing your mobility program requires more than an overview of numbers. It needs to include a deeper dive into why those numbers may be changing.  In addition to helping you determine if exceptions are getting out of control, or one cost center is being more generous that others, sometimes, a statistical change can be misinterpreted if not looked at from every angle.

Recently, a client reached out, concerned that, although initiations had not increased, the year to date expense had taken a notable spike.  On the surface, their conclusion was correct.  While expenses increased over 16% over the same period last year, overall initiations were actually down almost 7 percent.

 

The first thing I did was break out the expenses by category.  Immediately, I could see the culprit.  While other category expenses stayed in line with the previous year, the homesale expenses increased significantly, mirroring the year over year expense variance. Additionally, while there was a small increase in average sale price, this uptick in homesale expenses was more due to the number of sales completed during the two periods.

 

This is where I found the good news.  Looking at the average days on market for each home that sold over the past two years, I was able to see a positive trend. Homes are selling faster.  In the past 12 months, homes sold in an average of 32 days on the market, verses 59 days in the previous year.

 

Additionally, I found the average program cost went down almost 30 percent over the same period!  Logically, this makes sense, if you think about it.  The biggest drag on a relocation program is the homesale piece.  In addition to typically being the biggest ticket item, it also impacts other benefits when the market is soft.  When transferees cannot sell their home, you find they need to use more temporary living, home trips, loss on sale benefits and exceptions.

 

analytics over review

 

So, in the example above, what appeared to be a negative program development, is in actuality a sign of an improving economy and an indication of future savings.

 

Should this positive trend continue, employers should look at those benefits used to entice potential candidates in a slower, uncertain market and grant them by exception, or remove them outright. By removing these benefits (which no longer make the difference between accepting or refusing the move), employers can cut costs further.

 

When you look at your historic program data, do you have a clear understanding on the cause of trends?

Why You Really Need to Review Your RMC

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  That’s how the expression goes.  But, it’s time to evaluate the definition of broken.  I’m willing to bet that there are a number of factors why you have postponed reviewing the job your relocation management company is doing.

The Low Down on Temporary Living Expenses

Temporary living can be a doozy of a line item in a relocation budget.

How to Project Relocation Costs More Efficiently

With relocation busy season around the corner, relocation managers are probably dusting off their policies and taking a good look at relocation budgets. But, how realistic are those budgets? One of the biggest challenges that human resources and procurement managers face is the difficulty of designing a proper relocation budget and then sticking to it when the rubber hits the road. That’s why clear cost projections are the linchpins that connect cost containment with adequate relocation benefit delivery. In order to ensure clear projections, its critical to get the most accurate view of anticipated costs right out the gate, preferably before an offer has been extended to the potential transferee.

To Stage or Not to Stage?

We all know time is money.  When it comes to real estate, this couldn’t be truer. While the sales price of a home may

Staging a Home

Photo credit: HGTV

not change, obtaining a sale quickly can save a considerable amount of money in the form of carrying costs and even loss on sale if the market is in decline.  One way to give prospective buyers a perception of the depth and functional usage of space is to furnish the home. As such, transferees may request additional monies for staging the home as a part of the home marketing benefit. Should you comply?

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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