Household Goods Moving #2 - Why are you so cheap!?

Household Goods Moving #2 - Why are you so cheap!?

“We always take the cheapest quote”

How many times do you remind a supplier that’s your policy? But are you really comparing like for like?

Surprisingly, less than you’d expect really understand whether they’re comparing apples with apples… and, of course, there are always some apples that taste better than others! In a series of articles, we’ll explain each component that makes up a quotation and why perhaps the question should not be ‘why are you so expensive?’ but, ‘why are you so cheap!?’

Here in article 2 we continue with our top tips for comparing Household Goods Moving quotations:

I want everything delivered in New York tomorrow!

Hmmm… Sorry, but that’s not going to happen. Timescales are one of the biggest reasons for a price difference. Quite simply, the quicker you want the goods to arrive, the more it’s likely to cost. Naturally, airfreight is the quickest but also very expensive, so you tend not to ship more than a few boxes and immediate personal effects (500lbs seems to be policy standard at the moment). Even sea freight sailing times can vary - as mentioned in article 1, movers buy their freight rates from the same place (the Movers Trading Club), so rates should be the same or very close, but there are various sailing options available on most routes with many taking in other ports en-route. Those sailings with a longer transit time are naturally cheaper, but your assignee could be waiting an extra couple of weeks for their belongings.

The flip side of course, is that if you are looking to make a saving and your assignee is able to be flexible (perhaps you have a longer stay available in a corporate apartment?), then a longer sailing could be requested.

The same principle applies to smaller volumes and by road as well as sea - if you can be flexible on when goods arrive, then smaller consignments can be consolidated by the mover and you only pay for exactly what space you need in the container/on the removal truck.

It’s always worth checking the transit times when comparing quotations - something that looks to be an attractive price, may well take twice as long to arrive. The end result being your assignee in a strange country without their favourite tea cup!

That man is smoking in my conservatory…

Removal men… a strange breed indeed! But also some of the most skilled, independent and friendliest people you could hope to meet. After all the sales talk and all the boring PowerPoint presentations, it often boils down to the men that arrive on moving day - will they arrive on time? Can you trust them to handle your assignee’s treasured belongings with care? Will the HR/Mobility team be dealing with an upset colleague who isn’t in work because he has to go and replace a damaged bed for his children? No one sets out to do a bad job, but how do you know if the packing crew at either end are skilled enough to pack/unpack the Royal Doulton correctly and with the care it deserves?

Well, every mover will be different but there are a couple of points to at least check for and ask for proof of…

Are the crews full time employees? Have they been through a training process? Will they be wearing an official uniform? Will they be driving a modern, clean and well maintained branded vehicle? Will the same crew that pack and load at origin be the ones that travel and deliver (UK and Europe)? If the answer is yes, you can be pretty sure you’re in good hands. If not, then it’s worth asking some deeper questions.

We must stress that this is not always the case BUT… How can you be sure casual labour is trustworthy and reliable? We’ve seen instances of men literally been pulled out of the pub the night before for a day’s work and £40. We’ve seen rusty old removal trucks and containers with holes in the roof. We’ve seen containers being loaded on the side of the road where goods are literally being thrown in and often without any kind of wrapping material. The bigger worry is that someone decided this level of service (usually the cheapest) was acceptable for their assignees!

The majority of movers now make large investments in their crews, materials and vehicles. Staff should be full time, they should wear a uniform and should have been through the relevant packing courses - some companies operate their own training centres. Most companies will measure any claims against each member of staff as well as the type of claim, so any training issues can be highlighted, but also whether certain packing materials need reviewing. Does the mover incentivise their crews? Some reward low claims records financially. For some movers, their staff are even shareholders so they naturally benefit from ensuring that extra layer of wrapping material is used.

When comparing quotations, it’s worth keeping all this in mind - how well do you really know the moving company? Do you even have a relationship with them at all?

Before engaging with a mover (or relocation provider), perhaps try and visit the mover(s). They’ll be only too happy to show you around and maybe even take you to visit a removal taking place. There are also independent feedback sites available such as Referenceline.com which provides some great warts and all reviews.

Where is your office in the Congo?

Who has one there!? Not everyone is everywhere. At some point you will need to rely on an agent network to arrange the customs clearance and delivery of goods.

A large provider with their own offices in various locations around the world are obviously attractive but consider this - whilst they all operate under the same banner, it might be that the management team are expats on assignment who simply report to a regional manager, who in turn reports further up the chain etc. There’s nothing wrong with that by the way, but if you need to stamp your feet in London - what response will you get the other side of the world?

A common argument is that a relationship based agent and the reciprocal business that brings is far more valuable to a mover in say, Singapore, who is perhaps family run and the hierarchy perhaps a little shorter.

Those agents that form a network are perhaps the best of both worlds - there are the strong relationships and trust required to meet the high levels of service you expect but there is also a contractual tie-in that clearly helps when carrying out due dilligence. Choice is also worth considering - do you really want all your eggs in one basket in any given destination? Most movers (even those within a network) will have 2 relationships in most destinations and can choose best in class rather than being tied to using one.

The quality of agent needs to be measured and you need to be comfortable that the service you receive at origin will be the same at destination. When comparing your quotations, ask as much as possible about the destination agent, get some contact details and ask for some information on the movers relationship with them. Some companies will ask the destination agent to send an introductory email or phone call to explain what can be expected. Movers who are part of a network will all have had to meet some strict criteria to be accepted in the first place.

Ensure any mover carrying out overseas removals is at the very least FIDI-FAIM and BAR Overseas. Other useful accreditations are OMNI, FEDEMAC (for European movers), IAM, and LACMA.

NEXT - Square pegs, round holes and I’m sick of cardboard.

For further information please contact: Andy Hawtin on +44 (0)20 8574 1285 or ahawtin@gbliners.com. Alternatively, find us on Twitter @gbliners

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