Revolution in the moving industryBy Eric Anders • Jan 22nd, 2011 • Category: Industry Associations, WHAT'S NEW
At issue is the British Association of Removers' (BAR) upcoming Referendum on their proposed new 'standards' based membership.
BAR was created in 1900. It is the most recognized voice of the professional moving industry in the United Kingdom (UK). It has been at the forefront of developing and maintaining professional standards and services for the benefit of its members and their customers for over a century.
According to it's 2009 Code of Practice literature, the trade association has over 470 dues paying companies working out of 652 branch locations. It's members carry out some 400,000 moves within the UK and worldwide each year.
Beginning on Monday, January 24, 2011, BAR members will be required to vote on whether they agree that the particular quality service standards proposed by the association's management should be made compulsory for ALL members.
Should the majority vote in favor of the new standards, it could well mean that some members have their membership terminated if they don't comply with the outcome of the 'majority' decision. Ostensibly management could also arbitrarily remove companies from their ranks that fail to meet and maintain the proposed new quality service benchmarks required to remain a BAR member. The voting to decide the issue closes on the 4th of February.
Developed by the British Standards Institution (BSI) and introduced in 1998, BS EN 12522 Parts 1 and 2, have come to be known as the European standards for quality furniture removal services. BSI is an quality management organization created in 1901 to help British industry compete in European and international trade markets.
BS EN 12522 is the first and only quality standard recognized in the EU developed specifically for the full service removal industry. All certified removal companies are internally reviewed and assessed annually on services, staff, administration & procedures to ensure they continue to meet the high and exacting standards required.
According to the developer, BS EN 12522 is supposed to benefit private individuals by allowing potential customers to identify and compare the services offered by a removal company that display the Kitemark and benefit from the positive spin-off of fair competition in an open market. A Kitemark is a UK product and service quality certification “mark” similar to the Good Housekeeping Seal introduced in the U.S. in 1909. The symbol, like the standard, is owned by BSI.
The National Guild of Removers and Storers is another industry trade association based in the U.K. Like BAR, GUILD members must adhere to the universally (and usually compulsory) vague industry association 'Code of Practice' requirements and achieve accreditation to similar quality service standards maintained by The National Independent Removals Industry Inspectorate. Unlike BAR, GUILD members are charged on an individual basis base on the nature of their removal business and their unique company requirements.
Arguments for and against industry quality standards
Since the announcement about the referendum, detractors and supporters of the BAR initiative have been taking friendly (and occasionally aggressive) pot shots at each other in verbal skirmishes at the Moving etc… Network.
MeN is a privately operated online venue based in the UK. The virtual community was created by Jane Finch, a respected veteran in the business, to help encourage positive changes in the removal industry. It's a 'closed' industry group that encourages British trade association and non trade association members to network together in a neutral social environment to exchange ideas, opinions, and mutual business interests and opportunities in that way that raises standards within the moving industry. MeN has approximately 750 registered members from around the world. The relocating public is not invited to participate in the forum discussions by design.
In a thread entitled What do you think about the……, more than 50+ opinions have been posted discussing the problems, pitfalls, and proposed benefits of BAR's new quality initiatives.
Those opposed to the proposal cite the unnecessary expense, lack of credibility, and vague objectives used by BAR management to justify the referendum vote.
According to MeN's straw poll, those who intend to vote yes simply state they believe the ongoing support of expanded quality standards will benefit both their company and their customers.
Vote polarizing association members
Buried among the arguments at the MeN thread is what seems to be an underlying mistrust on both sides in the manner and method that BAR management is using to conduct the referendum among their membership.
For instance, the notification information reportedly advises that the lack of a response during the required voting period will be arbitrarily interpreted as a 'Yes' vote. BAR members who meet the current BS EN standards but don't support the ballot resent that they might ultimately be removed from the association ranks without any recourse or consideration of their history or past involvement within the group.
Like many moving and storage industry associations and international trade groups, BAR has seen it's membership ranks and domestic and foreign recruitment efforts challenged by the world economy and declining relocation activity during the last few years. Even loyal supporters acknowledge that this referendum carries a lot of risk in today's cash-strapped global marketplace.
Considering the size and demographics of the potential industry audience and the construction of the virtual room where the discussion is taking place, it's surprising that BAR management has chosen NOT to publicly and transparently address the concerns and arguments of those actively and passively 'listening' to the highly polarized conversations.
Referendum on quality or value of association membership?
It seems counterproductive for anyone in the moving industry not to support raising the service bar for the very customers that support your company culture and/or personal livelihood. Since most removers worldwide use the same muscles and methods; materials and equipment to perform their personal or corporate local or long distance packing, crating, and stuffing services, the only 'deliverable' that can differentiate one relocation vendor from the next is the quality and value of their product.
In today's highly competitive global marketplace, it's no surprise that responsible industry leaders want to define and frame the true value of their members' professional moving and storage services in uniform, measurable indices and universally recognized quality objectives instead of simply relying on power of the cheapest price to appeal to potential customers. Money, however, is a strange motivator as demonstrated by the fervor of some of the exchanges in the MeN forums.
What seems somewhat shortsighted is the reluctance of BAR to join the conversation with current and potential members worldwide about the practicality of their decision in an open and honest manner. This appears to be yet another shortfall of the relocation industry to recognize the power and influence of social media in the new virtual marketplace everywhere.
Remember what happened the last time a British institution didn't allow direct representation in revenue related matters that affected the rights of all of its members?
A Case for Disclosure – RELO Roundtable Op-Ed
CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT: Still think social media is a fad? – RELO Roundtable
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