The absence of certainty

To predict the future, you should never start from here. If you do, you assume the trends we already have will continue, and lead yourself down the wrong rabbit hole. So, let us take a small step backwards and assume that recent trends do not continue.

There has been a trend for corporations to adopt lump sum policies for assignee relocations. Here’s a handful of cash, see you at the other end. This, along with vice-like control of the industry by powerful RMCs, has tended to commoditise moving, driving prices down and risking service levels following. Those who are moving, take less. They are less attached to things. Are more inclined to buy new because everything is so cheap anyway. The things they have are smaller. But I think this trend might be ending.

When it comes to employment, the employer has always held most of the cards. In my youth, my interview technique tutor told me I would never get a second chance to make a first impression. Today, by contrast, labour is a seller’s market. Talent is hard to find and, I suspect, even harder to retain. To find and keep good people, companies must make themselves attractive places to work. High on the list of youngsters’ wish lists is the opportunity to travel. If an employer doesn’t provide that opportunity, its talent will leave and go elsewhere.

The next step in the talent retention game is, therefore, to make relocation as seamless and enjoyable as possible. Suddenly price becomes less important: it’s all about flexibility, convenience, ease, innovation and quality. Could the competition to provide the finest quality become as intense as that to provide the lowest price? I think it might. But what, exactly, would that quality look like?

Then add on the sustainability thing. When consumers start rejecting the throw-away age, so manufacturers will start making things that last – like they used to. Things will be better, more expensive, more treasured. People will want to keep what they have, particularly if the march of brand advancement begins to plateau which, in some markets, it already has. Could we see shipment volumes bounce back?

I will probably be wrong. This rabbit hole might be a dead end. But if it’s not, the future for movers might be very different than it is today. In the absence of certainty, we need to plan for everything.

Steve Jordan, Editor, The Mover

August 2021: 36,062 page views