I'm what my kids like to call a foodie. Recently I happened upon one of those popular 'top chef' cooking venues online and noticed something missing right from the start of the presentation.
The expert in the episode listed all of the ingredients that went into the preparation of the scrupulous looking meal but didn't included what measure of anything
was used to make the absolutely mouth-watering finished product.
According to the “About” section, this intentional absence of information was designed to get the creative juices of viewers flowing. Apparently starting at the end and working backwards was supposed to stimulate the audience to prepare the same professional-looking recipe using their own individual culinary tastes, pantry resources, cooking skills and available time.
The problem with the premise (at least in my opinion) is that many of those watching the show don't know how to cook.
At the time I thought maybe the format was an indication of the new type of 'reality show' transparency the public expects when browsing for expert advice online.
“Reality Shows” aren't really real!
A few days later I received a desperate note from a frustrated senior asking for help to decide which mover to use. Said she'd read all of the “wonderful” resources and tried to follow my “expert” advice but none of the local companies she contacted were willing to give her any of the information she requested.
She had tried to use the RELO Roundtable Moving Cost Estimate Comparison Tool
when setting up her appointments. It's one of the free “How To”
guides experienced customers can download and use to collect actual performance results from local companies when shopping online for a reputable mover.
None of the three sales people she invited to her home could fill in the blanks with their on-time pick up and delivery results, packing or hauling claim ratios, estimating accuracy performance, or their customer service ratings. And these were all supposedly tenured, trained professionals from well known national van lines!
According to my visitor, each proudly displayed their company's history, well-rehearsed and memorized sales pitch and household goods product information on their little 'computers with the tiny screens'. All of them were 'very nice' and 'extremely professional'. Unfortunately, none were equipped to speak to the specific on-time service and packing claim details this anxious older lady was interested in learning about.
There are three types of information every potential customer or corporate client should demand from their prospective mover before undertaking a relocation with them.
Determine their exact location – It's always best to use only product and service suppliers from the local 'garden'. The closer they are to your residence, the quicker they can respond to each customer's individual relocation requirements or unique service needs. A fancy website can be operated from a basement or backroom on the other side of the world.
Find out what operating authority the work be performed under
– While the professional looking pictures and well-scripted explanations in the sales easel may look and sound appealing, demand the company you hire shows proof of their professional credentials issued by local, state or federal regulatory offices before you allow them into your home.
This is especially true for inexperienced young singles and seniors on a fixed income shopping online. With fewer enforcement officials operating to catch rogue movers and unscrupulous household goods brokers these days, it is becoming increasingly unsafe to shop for a relocation service providers in a virtual marketplace.
A properly licensed household goods move broker or freight forwarder, for instance, may have the required interstate operating authority issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but have absolutely no trained drivers or specialized moving equipment qualified under that authority.
Get the measurements! While some salespeople or move counselors may tell you they are not allowed to share the ingredients and measure of their company's “secret sauce”, it's important information that you should demand to know!
Ideally, you want to see direct pick up
and on-time delivery
performance that is as close to 100% as possible. High nineties year-round is normal for most major national van lines and independent household goods carriers, although service sometimes deteriorates during the industry's peak moving season between April and August.
Shop for a packing, storage or transit related claim ratio below 2%. Although not all moving companies or van lines reference it the same way, this standard quality performance measurement usually represents claims paid as a percentage of revenue earned. Ask for an explanation if the results reported are higher than recommended or you don't understand the calculation.
It's always a good idea to inquire about how good each company's or individual salesperson's estimating accuracy record it. Not every company tracks this metric. It became less important after Congress deregulated the household goods moving industry in 1980. The industry then introduced the 'fixed price” binding estimate sales tool to fulfill the consumer need for price certainly.
Today, however, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and General Services Administration (GSA) join some corporate accounts, third party move managers, and international enterprises in the continued use of actual weight estimates.
Increased use of guaranteed-not-to-exceed (GNTE) pricing options offered by many experienced sales people offers some price certainly. Depending on each carrier's unique tariff filing, the final cost on an actual weight GNTE must be at or lower than the total amount contained in their cost estimate.
Pay special attention (and give a hug) to the estimator or move coordinator who immediately knows their company's quality performance metrics or personal estimating accuracy 'numbers'. This is a sign that both the individual and organization they work for are truly focused on providing excellent value through exceptional customer service.
Most reputable national van lines and many of their affiliated agents maintain a customer service index. Every year at their conventions, each of the brands pass out awards and publish a list of recipients who qualified for the distinction of providing outstanding service to their transferees and corporate clients. The problem is no one ever fully defines the metrics or reports each participants final ranking.
Without a uniform industry reference point or more informed company explanation, the practice constantly beating the quality service drums is sort of akin to assigning statistical grades designed to yield a pre-determined distribution of results among participants. I once got a B- on a Chemistry test with a score of only 14 out of 100 correct!
Your decision on which product supplier or service provider to use can only be informed if you know the ingredients required to make a good mover.
Moving Cost Estimate Comparison Tool – RELO Roundtable
Three things a virtual mover might not tell you – RELO Roundtable
How does the moving industry measure quality? – RELO Roundtable
Selecting a Household Goods Carrier for a Long Distance Move – RELO Roundtable
A Case for Disclosure – RELO Roundtable
How to Find a Reputable Mover: A Professional Guide – RELO Roundtable
How to Choose an International Mover – RELO Roundtable
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