Omni answers questions on Relocating

OMNI network represents more than 250 of the world’s finest moving companies.
All offer a comprehensive household moving service, predominantly to corporate
clients, and work together to provide their customers with a first-class,
door-to-door service, to and from anywhere in the world. OMNI companies employ
highly trained staff and facilities that equal or better any in their location.
All OMNI members have proved the quality of their service through independent
verification, by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, in accordance with FAIM (FIDI
Accredited International Mover) quality standards. OMNI is the only moving
network that can guarantee a 100 per cent accredited move, worldwide

Using a relocation company saves time, but could I get a better moving service
by going directly to the mover?

Well, you might be able to – but that’s not a straightforward answer. Most
relocation companies employ a panel of moving companies that tender for
contracts. Of course they monitor quality and would not wish to use a
sub-standard company, but they are also driven to some extent by commercial
demands. Contracts invariably go to the lowest bidder and, as rewards come down
it is only natural that companies should search for ways to cut corners to
maximise (or even create) profits. This may have an effect on the quality of
the work done.

some relocation companies have emerged from moving companies. They were, in
effect, moving companies first and relocation companies second. These companies
tend to be among the top moving companies anyway and use their own resources to
perform the removal. This might well be the best option giving you the best of
both worlds.

the traditional type of relocation company undoubtedly saves time and enables
HR managers to build a close working relationship with a single supplier for
all their relocation needs. It may, however, be possible to achieve better
service from individual suppliers for some key functions within the process and
shipping is undoubtedly one of them.

always, there is a trade-off between what might be advisable and the time
available. If you have no time to sort the good from the bad it’s probably
better to have someone else looking out for you.

I know the best movers in my own country, but how can I be sure they will use
the best companies at destination?

It’s always been a difficult problem. You learn which are the good companies in
your own country by experience, but if you ship families to 10, 20 or more
countries you can’t expect to be an expert on everywhere. Of course everyone
will assure you that they only use the best people at destination, but there is
now a way to check for yourself.

the international removals federation in Brussels, has developed a dedicated
quality standard just for international movers. It calls the standard FAIM
(FIDI Accredited International Mover) and companies that operate to the
standard can be recognised by the FAIM logo on their literature and websites.
FAIM covers all aspects of the moving process and is independently audited and
verified by consultants Cap Gemini Ernst & Young to ensure the same high
standard worldwide. Only the best companies can achieve and maintain the FAIM
standard so if you check that both origin and destination companies display the
FAIM logo, you can be confident they will do a first-class job.

you choose a company with its own global network be careful; even if the office
at home has FAIM it doesn’t naturally follow that their offices overseas have
or work to the same standard. Always check before committing.

How developed is the use of e-commerce in the moving industry and how can it
make my job easier?

E-commerce is rapidly taking over as the main differentiating factor
between moving companies. As the industry has become more sophisticated,
companies have realised that correct pricing and top quality service are
essential to have but not sufficient in themselves to swing a big contract. Now
e-commerce is sorting out the movers and shakers and attracting customers more
than anything else.

is of course much more than being able to book moves by e-mail or on a web
page. Everyone has done that for years. More sophisticated systems allow you to
view files online, amend instructions and even extract items from store using
secure back-office systems. They also allow you and the shipment owners to
track shipments during their journey eliminating the number of ‘chasing’ calls
you have to make just to find out when the ship will sail or is due to arrive.

e-commerce has moved on even further. It is now possible for companies to
communicate electronically throughout the moving process. This is more than
just internet or e-mail, it’s a truly integrated system that allows companies
to transfer consignment details direct from origin agent’s system to
destination agent without human intervention. This speeds up transactions and
eliminates the chance of errors creeping in due to bad handwriting, negligence
or language clashes.

single-company networks that have the same computer systems worldwide, the
technology is relatively simple. However, it will be a long time before all
independent moving companies have access to a system with the ability to work
with any agent’s back office system automatically. OMNI is currently working on
achieving full e-commerce throughout its network but is probably two years away
from full implementation.

Most of our expatriates have families. How is the moving industry addressing
the ‘soft’ family issues so important today?

The soft issues, those concerning the way in which the family copes with the
moving process, were until recently largely ignored by the moving industry.
However over the last decade there has been a growing realisation that these
factors are very important in the success of a relocation and the moving
company has a large role to play.

example, moving companies now advise their sales staff to seek opportunities to
speak with the whole family to explore their fears and help them by providing
straightforward information. Many children, for example, do not like strangers
packing their things and taking them nor do they understand that their
belongings will come out of the container at destination; they don’t know about
languages and whether they might be required to learn a new one; and they worry
about leaving their friends and making new ones.

these matters, within the family and with the professionals involved, helps
them to come to terms with the move and removes anxiety. Many moving companies
have now developed aids to help get the message across. Some have colouring
books that depict the moving process. Some have games, videos, CD ROMs and
audio tapes to answer children’s questions in an exciting and entertaining way.

most of all, children want to be involved, not excluded. To help, many moving
companies now supply kids boxes carrying bold statements like ‘adult-free zone’
or ‘my stuff, keep off’ to allow the children to flex their independent muscles
within a controlled environment.

companies have programmes to help the ‘trailing spouse’ too. Pre-move, site
visits can be organised and many companies have ‘partners programmes’ designed
specifically to help partners settle well into a new environment and integrate
them as quickly as possible into their new role and surroundings.

focus on these ‘soft’ issues has developed strongly in the last 10 years and
all indications are that it will continue to do so.

The shipping industry has more capacity than customers right now. What is the
moving industry doing to secure space on vessels when the going gets tough?

A very good question! With the general downturn in trade over the last year
shipping lines do have spare capacity, cargo is easy to place and prices have
come down. However, nobody expects this situation to last and the lines predict
that by the end of 2002, capacity and traffic will be much better balanced,
space may even become scarce again creating a seller’s market. At the same time,
shipping lines are merging into huge organisations, the top handful of which
control most of the world’s shipping tonnage. This, potentially, could make
worse an already tricky situation.

moving companies with the greatest buying power will be able to demand service
and reasonable rates from these companies, however, it will be the large
shipping groups that will really be in the driving seat. The largest of these
is OSA (Overseas Shippers Association) which operates from the UK. OSA
negotiates rates and services for all the major routes worldwide and controls
huge tonnage. This enables its members to benefit from price stability and,
more importantly, provides some influence over the shipping lines to provide
exceptional service even during a seller’s market.  

Waters is general manager of OMNI

Waters has been with OMNI since its inception in 1986. His role is to guide the
organisation and carry out the wishes of the board, as they represent the needs
and aspirations of OMNI’s 270 members worldwide.

his time with OMNI, Ian Waters has gained an extensive knowledge of the
industry and has a clear understanding of what it must do to satisfy its
clients. From his position at the head of a global, not-for-profit
organisation, his advice is free from politics, nationalism or commercial

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