Tips for Relocating During Peak Season
Relocations happen most often during certain times of year. While exact dates can vary slightly around the world, they’re usually tied to two things: warmer weather, when the percentage of home sales increases, and school term breaks, a time when most employees are more willing to uproot their children. This means a large number of assignees in the southern hemisphere move during January/February, while their counterparts in the northern hemisphere move during June, July and August. During these busier peak times demand exceeds supply, a source of great anxiety for mobility teams and vendors alike as they push existing processes and timelines to handle an increasing volume of moves over a short period of time. Local provisions of relocation, moving and destination service providers (DSPs) are stretched, exceeding capacity, which means the best bet for a smooth relocation is to understand how timelines can be affected and to implement processes and procedures that will optimise every aspect of the process. Attention to detail, preemptive communication, and allowing plenty of time for organisation and implementation go a long way in assuring that your move doesn’t get lost in the larger wave of relocations that are happening globally.
Global mobility teams, relocation management companies (RMCs), and assignees/transferees all have a part to play in ensuring that a relocation or move goes smoothly. Below, we explore some tips for each when orchestrating a move during peak moving season.
Global Mobility Teams
Know your deadlines and what influences timelines:
- Keep an eye on immigration deadlines: Double check the deadlines for required paperwork associated with all visa and immigration documents. Missing documents, errors or missed deadlines can cause significant delays in a relocation and create downstream delays with other relocation activities and milestones that are dependent on completed immigration paperwork.
- Set clear expectations: Set clear timeline expectations with both the employee and your company, keeping in mind peak season’s influence on those timelines. HR/recruiting will need to build in as much lead time as possible in order for mobility to bring talent onboard in the timeframe that the business needs them. They will also need insight into how the delivery of other relocation benefits may be impacted and the additional costs that may be incurred by improper planning.
- Engage the employee: Ensure that the employee will be physically present for packing and loading in the origin home, as well as for delivery and unloading in the destination location, to avoid potential issues with claims processes. Consider having all moves signed off on as received by the assignee or an authorised representative, stating that all items shipped have been received in good order.
- Authorise services and book vendors now: Authorise services and book vendors as far in advance as possible, as RMCs, DSPs, immigration providers, tax providers, airlines, pet shippers and household goods vendors will be stretched during peak season. Domestic US moves will require a minimum of four weeks and global moves will vary by origin and destination locations. Authorising and booking in advance:
- reduces the likelihood of immigration delays.
- supports greater efficiency & safety of household goods due to fewer handlers who have enough time to handle packing.
- helps avoid additional fees for rush moves, weekend/off hours services, premiums for late bookings or change fees.
- reduces the likelihood of exception requests resulting from a need to extend timelines for shipping or temporary housing which, in turn, reduces relocation costs.
- ensures a greater likelihood of household goods arriving at their destination, as expected and possibly faster than other moves during this time period.
Assignees and Transferees
- Be proactive: Make travel plans well in advance of your move date.
- Be aware: Rules vary for what can and can’t be taken into certain countries. Be aware of the rules as laid out in your destination country to avoid the prolonging or prevention of your household goods delivery.
- Be mindful of deadlines and documents: Adhere to all deadlines provided by your relocation manager. Many key actions can only be taken when prior steps are completed; your adherence to expected timeline milestones keeps the move running smoothly. Vendors will each require different documents from you and hold you to different timelines. Keep a list of their requirements, as missing paperwork or failure to meet deadlines will hold up timelines and other relocation services.
- Set aside any valuables: Place any valuables, important papers or items that you’ll be carrying with you during the move in a separate place to ensure that they aren’t loaded onto the moving van on your move day.
- Be prepared on the day of the move:
- Do a thorough walk through with your move team’s supervisor – before loading to discuss any concerns and after loading to ensure no items were missed.
- Before packing, check for pre-existing property damage and take time-stamped photos to avoid any disputes with your moving company later.
- Practice safety:
- Ensure that pets are sequestered; dogs may be tempted to bite movers and cats have been known to climb into boxes and furniture during a move when afraid.
- Supervise any children so they are safe and secure while larger household goods are being moved.
Relocation Management Companies
- Think outside of the box: Remember that every relocation is unique and, during peak season, there’s increased potential for challenges to occur; accessibility and creative thinking may be necessary to develop quick solutions.
- Consider location impacts: Consider geographical reach, time of year and the strengths of varying network vendors to ensure that those chosen fully complement the needs of each client and employee.
- Communicate and set expectations: Build relationships with clients, employees and vendors to ensure that expectations and implementation of each relocation are managed optimally.
- Be integrated: Be prepared to share an easily understandable overview of your policies and processes with clients, employees and vendors to ensure that all stakeholders’ efforts are integrated.
- Remember that timing is everything: Ensure that assignees/transferees are advised to schedule their home sale closings or lease handovers at least two days after their physical moves to allow for final walk-throughs and cleaning. Be mindful of any additional deadlines or norms of consequence that may differ in the country of origin.
- Manage the tight timeline: When a move is requested with less than four weeks of lead time, express and manage realistic expectations. Before committing to dates, check with your moving services coordinator to avoid making promises on delivery that may not be possible. Avoiding end-of-month or end-of-week deliveries may be helpful since these are the most frequently requested arrangements.
- Educate assignees/transferees: Employees need to be aware of moving jargon and concepts, including:
- The importance of availability for in-home moving estimates early on in the process, to ensure that the right services can be planned for. Virtual estimates may be an option, if needed.
- The significance of delivery “spread,” defined as the range of dates in which a customer can expect his or her shipment:
- Employees should be made aware that they can request a specific delivery date within the spread. While every effort will be made to meet that request, a specific date cannot be guaranteed, and a shipment delivered during the provided spread is considered to be on time.
- Smaller shipments typically take longer to deliver and will have a wider spread.
- Employees with global shipments will need to understand the additional steps taken at the port upon arrival that add to the timeline: unloading from vessels, customs clearance and pick-up from customs clearance.
- The importance of completing the valued inventory/high valued inventory form
- The significance of third-party services: who they are and what they do
- The significance of customs documents
- The value of taking inventory at the immediate conclusion of a delivery, to avoid missing items and the filing of claims.
It’s true that relocations implemented during peak season can be more challenging than those that are conducted during the rest of the year but, by planning ahead, collaborating, and ensuring open communication, they can run far more smoothly. Global mobility teams, employees and RMCs all play a part in a successful implementation.