The optimum move

Relocation management company CapRelo discusses its end-to-end service, the importance of having a team of supply-chain professionals, and the challenges of doing business amid market volatility

While moving to a new job in a fresh location might seem exciting for an employee, the prospect of picking up sticks and leaving everything behind can be awfully daunting. As Chris Owens, Global Director, Supply Chain at CapRelo, puts it: “I’ve got a relocation package, with a bumper salary. My family are coming along, and everything’s great. My employer says, ‘I’ll see you in six months!’ – but then, the realization hits me. What do I do now? I have a home to sell! I’ve got pets to move! What about my wife, or my husband – they’re not going to know the area, and they’re going to need help finding a new job in this new market. What activities am I going to participate in, to get to know the city I’m about to call home?”

Enter CapRelo. For 25 years, the multi award-winning relocation management company (RMC) has been successfully relocating its clients’ employees across the US, and beyond. “The employee will receive their relocation package,” Chris continues. “It’ll read: Call CapRelo. They will, and they’ll be put straight through to one of our counselors. We’ll be ready for them, and we’ll let them know that they’re supported. ‘If your company policy includes home sale benefits – that’s where we’ll begin. Have you reached out to a real estate broker? No? Well, we have someone that we utilize and trust in that market, we’ll reach out to them for you’. We’ll walk through the process step-by-step, until the completion of the relocation, providing everything they need to acclimatize to their new environment.”

As the director of CapRelo’s supply chain and procurement operations, Chris’s role is to source, negotiate and secure formal relationships with the company’s variety of service providers in order to meet client needs, drive efficiencies, and extract value. A supply chain professional of 38 years, his own experience speaks to a unique point of difference for CapRelo: its people. “Most of our competitors have relocation-specific and trained staff, who also do supply chain,” Chris notes. “But at CapRelo, we have a dedicated team of certified supply chain professionals with a strong track record within our industry, who understand that their role is about far more than identifying the best widget.

“Instead, we’ll work in concert with our clients,” he counters. “We’ll discuss with them regarding what the weighted scoring should be for components such as price, scalability, coverage, and customer satisfaction. From there, we’ll be able to compare supplier against supplier, so we can make the best choice.”

For Chris, the key to success is to gather as much information as possible. “We have to come out of the park with home runs every single time no matter what the service,” he emphasizes. “For example, if you’re a traveler, you know your own expectations, and why you traditionally go to the brand of hotel you do – it’s because of the sleep experience, the free bottle of water, the lotions and potions in the room, the soft towels. All those things have a direct impact on what I need to do to source products and services.

“If I’m meeting with a supplier either as an introduction, or explaining why it’s important for them to deliver their value proposition to us, the way I present the situation is to ask them how their product or service will impact the pain points for a transferee,” Chris continues. “What works well? What doesn’t work well? We try to garner their subject matter expertise, becoming a knowledge source for our clients and transferees, whether we’re talking about current mortgage rates, or challenges to available inventory.

“Especially in today’s volatile world, it seems as though every day we wake up to something new that’s going to impact supply chain,” he concedes. “I had a meeting recently in which I was explaining the jumps in fuel, and I was asked what that had to do with destination services. But it’s all connected, because it’s a component within our service delivery. A mobility professional’s focus is capturing and retaining top talent. They may or may not care about the tactical part, but that’s where stuff is ever fluid.

“We must look at each transferee’s experience individually, and then each component of the move. Let’s take finding a home. Home prices are on the rise, and transferees are more likely to rent verses buy,” Chris points out. “We have to go back to our clients and explain that they might need to change their behaviors given the everchanging factors involved. Equally, we have to manage the transferee’s expectations: maybe you won’t be able to live in downtown Manhattan, but there are options across the river, and you may have to take some level of transportation.”

For CapRelo, an end to the disruption remains a far-off prospect. “Availability and capacity are two of the biggest challenges we’re going to see in 2022, but it could be much longer,” Chris reflects. “That reinforces the importance of supply chain competency – our professionals and their specialisms are more important now than ever before. Similarly, our client organizations are demanding greater clarity on the supply chain. They want to understand how complexities are met, how efficiencies are leveraged, and what it gives them.”

In this ever-more challenging environment, the emphasis falls on CapRelo to go the extra mile. “On the technology side, we’re building portals and other technology-driven services to help provide our clients with a more complete process than that which relocation traditionally has to offer,” Chris says. “We’re going beyond what’s necessary to secure a move or relocation, with a view to providing certain companion services that might not be part of a client’s core packages, but which are nevertheless something that their transferees need. Likewise, we’re exploring different ways that clients can pay for our services, which might be better-suited to their requirements.”

As Chris is keen to reiterate, everything comes back to the transferee. “Companies are looking for top talent. If we take the example of a pharma company, they’re trying to capture the highest level of knowledge base that’s going to cure cancer,” he suggests. “Once that individual has been identified, the company will offer them a relocation package. From there, it can go one of two ways. If the RMC delivers, it’s a great experience, reinforcing the employee’s choice to move to that company. Conversely if it goes bad, for whatever reason, there’s a real risk that the company is spending over $100,000 to move an employee to a new market, who’s just going to head off to one of their competitors.”

Turning to the future, CapRelo is looking forward to some exciting innovations. “We already have the ability to connect in near real-time with our transferees and clients to pinpoint exactly where their employees are in the relocation process,” Chris remarks. “But then, a lot of our suppliers have consumer focus. Could our technology portals and the data we have available help them in some reciprocal fashion.

“We’re exploring anything with the potential to deliver benefits back to our relocation business, and to help expand our environment of operation,” he concludes. “Improving our understanding of that will help us to grow, and to deliver larger relocation programs around the globe.”

Services: Corporate employee relocation