The unfortunate certainties of life are death, taxes and, in the case of corporate mobility managers, the never-ending pressure to reduce costs. Clients often ask for help achieving that delicate balance between maintaining benefits levels that keep employees engaged and productive while avoiding spiraling costs.
Beyond the policy provisions that account for 98% of all costs, clients should examine the processes they use to administer mobility. This can be daunting for mobility managers comfortable and familiar with their current approaches to acknowledge or see. Still, often our “outside” perspective can shed light on opportunities to improve operational efficiencies.
In the spirit of the spring season, we’re sharing some of the top program areas that – in our experience with clients — usually need a good tidying! You may be shocked to see the time and cost-saving opportunities lurking beneath the surface.
Are there redundant forms that need to be filled out or multiple levels of approval? For example, a paper form may be filled out by a recruiter, then passed on to a team member to input online, then passed to someone else to approve. If there is a question or dispute, the process goes in reverse order to obtain the needed information. This adds days to the process when time is critical for the Counselor to reach out to the employee and begin the process.
The same questions can (and should) be applied to your exception process! A cumbersome chain of command to request and approve exceptions is a major drain of resources and can lead to frustrated employees.
How are they collected? Look for duplications of effort—one person distributes the agreement, another collects it, then forwards it to a third person, all before the move is initiated. You can see where I’m going here. Is the repayment communicated early in the policy and/or with the candidate?
The most significant potential savings is to prevent premature listings, which can happen when an employee hasn’t received timely counseling. This can cause overpricing and lead to more inventory. Examine marketing timeframes, days on market, appraisal process, inventory process and inspections. For example, some companies opt for only a Broker Market Analysis because it is faster and less costly than an appraisal; however, relying exclusively on this data could cost a lot more if the property comes into inventory. On the other hand, offering marketing incentives can increase visibility on a property which generates more offers, thereby expediting the marketing process.
This is a very effective strategy proven to minimize losses, decrease requests for exceptions, and reduce marketing timeframes. The employee collects information early on that can expedite their decision to accept a move or assignment and reduce the overall timeframe and the cost of “unforeseen” obstacles. The data can be used for discussion with the manager or recruiter to customize benefits around unusual circumstances. For example, the family may be reluctant to move because the children are in the middle of their school year, and they aren’t familiar with the new town. The company may opt to provide a pre-decision trip to look at other communities or allow the employee to stay in temporary living while the family waits out the school year (upon acceptance of the move). The most significant cost savings (often overlooked) is the reduction of failed moves and assignments that could have been avoided through information obtained early on through pre-decision assistance.
Look at the timeframes and disbursement process and how repairs are handled. Repairs should be made early to minimize the likelihood of a sale fall through.
No matter how detailed the policy, this area tends to experience many exception requests. Our Weichert Move Network routinely works with clients, reviewing authorizations, claims and specific household items that should be handled differently and managing “pre-approved” exceptions that avoid costly delays. Recently, WMN worked with one client to reduce claims by 12% by evaluating which items are susceptible to damage and creating a new method for inventorying and handling these items.
Everything is infinitely smoother when everyone is on the same page.
Introducing process improvements requires clear stakeholder communication and education. Often these stakeholders are financially responsible for the move but don’t live in the role of mobility every day. This is where having objective advice and compelling cost information can help you build a persuasive argument for process improvements.
The right mobility tech can unlock a world of efficiencies and cost-cutting opportunities by opening more communication channels, streamlining operational processes, and offering enhanced reporting capabilities. As well as empowering relocating employees with tools (and apps) to be more flexible with their relocation choices, Weichert Go offers mobility managers heightened control over spend and tracking, with dashboards that provide one true view of their entire program. It’s changing the mobility game for our clients, delivering a smarter way to unleash their talent anywhere in the world.
Are there any areas in your process that could use a good “spring cleaning”? Or any recent changes you have implemented that reduced costs and increased efficiencies? Please feel free to share them with me.