Even before COVID-19 upended the business world, the relocation management industry was in a state of flux. In the last few years, we’ve seen steady consolidation among traditional relocation management companies (RMCs). Meanwhile, at UrbanBound—the first tech-based relocation provider—we continue to grow. Why is that?
First, consider the backdrop: traditional relocation management companies operate on low margins, so they’re more vulnerable to financial pressures. Given the fact that some domestic relocations and all global ones were halted due to shutdowns and border closings, the relocation industry is feeling pain. We saw industry mergers, acquisitions and layoffs before COVID-19…now, these are bound to accelerate.
For employers that plan to continue using employee relocations in conjunction with their talent acquisition strategy, this is something to be aware of. Many of our customers have advised us that relocation will remain essential to their growth plan—and that they rely on a strong, stable relocation partner to support their efforts going forward.
With that in mind, consider these five reasons that UrbanBound continues to be successful, even now, while legacy RMCs will continue to struggle.
1. UrbanBound is Built on Proprietary Technology
…not legacy systems and manual processes! While traditional RMCs are primarily powered by people—people who labor over outdated software and cumbersome administrative processes, that is—our relocation management technology (the first of its kind) was built from the ground up, with the express goal of easing relocation for both employers and employees.
Because we’re tech-based, our overhead, including labor costs, is significantly lower. (At UrbanBound, we haven’t laid-off or furloughed a single employee due to COVID-19, nor do we intend to. In fact, we’ve been hiring and adding new customers to the UB family!) So, not only are we operating from a stronger financial position, we offer employers freedom from the time-consuming layers of manual administration required by traditional relocation programs.
2. We Offer Software Designed for Managed-Budget Policies (the Next Big Thing)
Managed-budget policies combine the freedom of lump sum policies (see below) with the service levels of fully-supported relocations. We believe more and more employers will be turning to them to recession-proof their relocation management programs—which is why we developed Freeway, revolutionary software designed for optimizing managed-budget policies.
Managed budget policies are like lump sum programs in that they offer employers the ability to fix and predict costs and budget with accuracy. However, unlike lump sum policies, managed-budget policies offer employers opportunities for cost saving, because unspent funds are returned to them, not kept by employees.
In addition, Freeway offers the following advantages:
Employees use UrbanBound’s software to manage their budget however suits them best, with the help and guidance of their personal consultant, who they can rely on as much or as little as they choose.
Employees can choose to have most expenses directly billed to best-in-class suppliers—as opposed to reimbursement, so employees don’t need to front expenses. (Reimbursement, when warranted, can also be claimed online).
Employees can search for, book and communicate with vetted suppliers directly through the software.
To prevent overspending, notifications are triggered when costs near the budget maximum, so employees always know what they have to work with.
Can traditional RMCs offer managed budget policies? Not one where the policy acts as the rules engine for the entire employee experience!
3. We Add Unprecedented Value to Lump Sum Policies, Improving Employee Experience
Lump sum policies—a flat dollar amount of money given to employees to use for relocation expenses—have been growing in popularity for nearly two decades. Designed as a way to help employers reduce expenses, they offer tremendous flexibility to employees, who can spend the funds however they see fit…and keep whatever is left over. Usually modest in size, they’re ideal for interns and entry-level new hires.
Here’s the problem with most lump sum policies: they’re generally unsupported or poorly supported by traditional RMCs, who prioritize more profitable, executive-level relocations. As a result, relocating employees must organize their entire moves on their own. This can result in bad decisions, headaches, and unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses…i.e., a terrible relocation experience and a bad impression of the organization
That’s why we build software specifically to help employees manage their lump sum benefits wisely. This includes organizational tools for planning their moves, access to our preferred suppliers, and resources to help them learn about their new city and workplace before they even get there. It even offers content and how-tos geared to interns and entry-level employees.
In addition, our lump sum software gives employees essential financial insight—such as how much things should cost and where they should be spending most of their money. It tracks employee spending, so they always know what they’ve spent, and what they have left. In addition, all employees have complete access to our live relocation consultants. End result: no unpleasant surprises, smooth, well-planned moves, and a much better relocation experience.
4. Our Business Model is Built on Independence
Did you know that traditional RMCs make the bulk of their revenue from referral fees—that is, by steering employees to use certain movers, realtors, mortgage brokers, etc.? Some even share ownership with traditional van lines and real estate networks, all of which are struggling now.
Our business model is different. The majority of our revenue comes from license fees paid by clients using our software, not referral fees paid to us by suppliers. We’re not dependent on other-related businesses for income. We earn our revenues based on our clients’ continued use of our services, and our net client retention rate is 112%.
In addition, we continue to develop new innovations. For example, we recently launched a Pre-Decision Solution, a stand-alone talent acquisition tool that uses technology to improve the candidate experience, boosting offer acceptance rates.
5. Our Software Saves Employers Money
Businesses love to save money in the best of times. However, in the wake of the COVID-19 downturn, cost-cutting is very likely to become a near-universal business priority.
Well, guess what? Currently, the average savings of an UrbanBound move—versus that of a traditional RMC—exceeds 24%. Imagine cutting your relocation budget by one-fourth simply by changing providers and still giving the employee a great experience!
Here’s another compelling statistic: clients who use our software see their employees’ moves come in under budget a full 94% of the time—and that money goes right back into their budget for future relocations. By switching to UrbanBound and perhaps updating your policies (hint: see managed budget, above!), you can cut your relocation program costs, without compromising quality or service.
On the subject of service: some people are still under the impression that saving money—or using technology—means skimping on customer service. That is simply not the case. UrbanBound offers the same “white glove” service levels offered by traditional companies. (In fact, we also offer fully-supported relocations, although we find that even senior executives prefer to use a mix of live personal support and online relocation planning.)
The proof is in the ratings: UrbanBound currently holds an employee satisfaction score of 4.6 out of 5 stars—while earning an industry-leading net promoter score of 71. By all means, see what our clients say about us.
The relocation management landscape was changing before COVID-19, and now, it’s changing even more rapidly. As a result, forward-thinking employers are looking for a more modern, more affordable, less-laborious approach to relocation. If you are one of them, by all means, let’s talk.