5 Signs your Household Goods Supplier Could be in Trouble 11.7.2018 | Kyriako Bouris

Your relocation program is only as good as the network of providers it’s built on. If one link in the chain goes down for the count, it’s easy to imagine the effects reverberating throughout your entire supply chain.

Take household goods. It’s arguably one of the most important components of an employee move, and has perhaps the greatest impact on your employees’ overall satisfaction. What if something unexpected caused a service interruption? What if, for example, your van line went out of business without warning? Where would that leave your employees who are waiting on their shipments? What impact would it have on productivity or company goals?

Fortunately, there are signs you can watch out for that serve as an early warning system that your HHG suppliers could be in trouble.

1. When someone in the supply chain doesn’t get paid.

There are lots of moving parts to a relocation household goods move. When your company contracts with a van line for, say, auto hauling, it’s often outsourced to a downstream provider that the van line would be responsible for paying out of the monies collected from the client (ie, your company).

That’s all well and good, and most of the time works just fine. But what if it doesn’t? If issues arise with these downstream providers not getting paid in a timely manner (or at all), consider it a red flag.

Most downstream partners have 30-40 day terms and they should be paid within that timeframe. Yet, we’ve heard stories throughout the industry of downstream partners not getting paid… and the next thing you know, the van line disappears or is filing for bankruptcy.

2. When you constantly have difficulty getting hold of anyone and see excessive turnover.

If you see a pattern of people coming and going and no consistent staff, you know something is happening behind the scenes. You may also see a lot of confusion among the staff you do get in touch with, because no one seems to know what’s happening with a particular shipment.

This is usually the result of employees not being paid enough or not being paid at all. The most recent example came just last year, when a major van line closed its doors without warning, and many customers were left scrambling to connect with anyone at the company.

3. When there are repeated service disruptions.

It’s true that pretty much every provider out there has been hit with an occasional service disruption. Weather, computer glitches, human error — these are things that happen in any industry, and we just have to accept it. But when a provider’s network or phone is repeatedly down and they exhibit some of the other warning signs we’ve mentioned, this could be an indication that they’re not paying their bills.

4. When there are missed pick-ups or deliveries.

If your van line begins to show a pattern of missed pick-ups and other scheduled events, chances are something’s up. Maybe the van line sent the job to an independent network agent who’s dropping the ball. Or there may be drivers who aren’t being paid and just walk off the job. In the summer, there’s a slight “seasonal forgiveness” due to it being, traditionally, the busiest time for moves. But when you start seeing such erratic behavior year-round, something’s up.

5. When you have difficulty getting claims settled.

If your mobile employee is filing a claim, you’re already behind the eight ball. That means something went wrong with the move. When the moving company isn’t quick to settle or resolve a claim, it just adds insult on top of injury. Is there an issue with gathering all the details of the claim? Is it cut-and-dry and the van line is just dragging its feet? Either way, it’s a bad look for your company.

So how do you avoid trouble?

Avoiding trouble starts at the supplier selection stage. Make sure they’re financially sound, conduct a thorough financial background and insist on ongoing reporting.

Also, ask the right questions. Ask about payment terms with their downstream suppliers. Look for transparent pricing. Focus on quality.

You’ll also want a clear picture of their commitment to customer satisfaction. Look for reporting that covers on-time pickups and deliveries, and claims settlement data that includes the date the claim was submitted, the amount and the date the claim was settled. This will give you a best view into the company’s processes and responsiveness.

Here at Weichert, we conduct an annual Supply Chain Risk Assessment Report to make quantifiable determination of our supplier partners’ ability to comply with our baseline financial risk management standards and to provide reasonable assurance that they will be able to provide uninterrupted service to our clients and their mobile workforce.

These assessments are also designed to serve as an early-warning mechanism so our supply-chain and financial professionals can act in a proactive and responsible manner to preempt and mitigate risk.

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Written by Kyriako Bouris

Rocko Bouris

Kyriako “Rocko” Bouris, CMC, is Weichert’s Vice President, Global Transportation Solutions. He oversees every facet of our integrated move management solution, strategizing with our household goods specialists and network partners to ensure superior point-to-point communication, cost control and accountability throughout the entire household goods shipment process. He has over 20 years of relocation move management expertise and earned the Certified Moving Consultant (CMC) designation.

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