November 13, 2015
5 Questions You Need to Ask When Evaluating Relocation Suppliers
Whether your company is deciding to partner with a relocation supplier for the first time or it’s just time for a change, it’s important to be prepared for the road ahead. Taking on the process of locating and hiring a new relocation management company is not a simple task, and a good plan is key to success.
Before you jump into RFIs, RFPs and presentations, ask yourself these questions and define your answers – that way, you’ll have a better idea of what you want and how you’re going to go about getting it.
1. What do we need in a partner? What do we really care about?
Many companies make the mistake of going into the proposal process with dollar signs at the forefront. Of course it’s important to find a solution that fits your budget, but you should outline the qualities and services you need in a partner and make them the center of your search. Maybe your company wants a partner who is flexible and can work with you to create a custom program, or you need someone with extensive global reach, or you care most about a particular service like home sale or immigration. Whatever it is, write it down and share it with your entire search team.
Something to keep in mind is that needs differ across a company, especially a large multi-national business. Don’t just look at the needs of the HR department or what your executive team wants –pay attention to what you’re hearing from relocating employees and from the offices you’re moving team members into and out of.
2. How much guidance are we looking for?
If your company has had a relocation program for a long time, you may know just what you need and how you want your program structured. Perhaps you’re searching for a new provider because your program isn’t going the way you want it to, or you’re brand new to the global mobility world. Being honest and upfront about your knowledge level or the amount of help you need can help streamline the selection process.
Some companies excel at administering programs, while others place themselves in an advisory role. Do you prefer one over the other? Regardless, keep an open mind – a new supplier may have a new solution that could make your program that much better.
3. Which companies should we include in the bidding process?
Don’t just Google “top relocation companies” and select whatever pops up. Spend some time doing a little background research. Look for a company that’s already providing answers to your burning questions, like this blog post! Search their blog and resources library to really vet their knowledge. You want to know the company you choose has the knowledge and experience necessary to tackle your toughest challenges.
If you’re new to relocation or are trying to branch out from your norm, consider adding an RFI (request for information) before going straight to the full bid. You may learn about a company you hadn’t considered before, or your initial judgments may be proven wrong (or right!).
Another factor to consider is how many companies you want to extend an RFI and/or RFP to – too many, and you’ll be overwhelmed sorting through the responses; too few, and you won’t have enough options. The right number is different for every company based on team size, time allocated to the process and more. Work with all involved to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
4. What do these companies’ clients say about them?
Pretty much every proposal will include references, but make sure you follow through with them. Call or email those references, and ask specific questions about the features you care about. References are often selected because they’ll give favorable reviews, but it’s not just about customer satisfaction. Find out if their proposal responses match with reality.
Ask those references about how their assignees communicate with their consultants, what the process is like from initiation through repatriation, what is the caseload for each consultant, etc. Keep in mind those things you listed in response to question one above, and ask questions that align with your needs. You could also check out case studies or other documented proof that they've had success with companies similar to yours.
5. How long will this process really take?
If your team is a well-oiled RFP machine, you may have no problem scheduling a proposal and meeting your deadline. But if this isn’t being handled by a procurement team or if it’s been a while since you’ve sought a new supplier, it can be really difficult to set a realistic timeline.
Think about how many people will be involved, and how much time each person will be able to dedicate to the bid. Examine the length of the RFP you send to potential suppliers, and give them enough time to respond with thoughtful questions and answers. You don’t want to read a bunch of rushed answers, and the suppliers want to provide you with the best information they can. Outline ahead of time who will need to review the responses and have a say in the selection. And don’t just stop at the proposal – incorporate the time needed for presentations and multiple rounds of discussion.
If you’re just going out to bid for a new relocation provider, take some time to prepare. Answer the five questions above, and use them as a jumping off point to brainstorm other points you want to consider. Doing your due diligence should mean an easier hunt for your perfect global mobility partner.
Kristin is Sterling Lexicon's Senior Manager, Content and Campaign Strategy, where she brings more than 25 years of experience in global workforce mobility, marketing, editorial planning and communications to her role. Before joining Sterling Lexicon, she worked for many years at Worldwide ERC® in collaboration with cross-departmental teams and industry stakeholders to develop in-person and virtual event program, website article and print publication content, including Mobility magazine. Contact Kristin at email@example.com.