The official newsletter for the European Relocation Association
Inside the mind of cross-culture expert Fons Trompenaars
Creating solutions with furniture
At the heart: Focus on Hungary
R E L O C AT I O N S E RV I C E S U N D - B E R AT U N G
NEWS The EuRApean is published by impact!, Media House, 55 Old Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 2RB UK. T: +44 (0)1525 370013 © European Relocation Association 2010 Website: www.eura-relocation.com Editor: Dominic Tidey firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising enquiries: Joanne Asher email@example.com The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of EuRA or its agents, who shall not be responsible for any loss or damage suffered as a result of any statement in or omission from these articles or advertisements.
Build up to
IT’S ALL systems go for the build up to EuRA’s 2011 International Relocation Congress in Palma de Mallorca on the 13th, 14th and 15th April next year. Anyone who was booked to attend in 2010 and who has returned their re-booking form for 2011 has already been reserved a place. EuRA will be writing to everyone in January with their confirmation and the invoice for the one off fee of 20 per cent of the delegate rate. Booking forms for accommodation are now on the EuRA website and the rates are the same as they were for 2010. “The conference will be our best ever,” says operations manager, Dominic Tidey, “and although it feels very strange not to have got together with our members this year, we are even more excited about seeing you all next year.”
Forging strategic partnerships WELCOME to the third edition of the printed EuRApean. We’re very grateful for the support of our advertisers as well as the work of everyone at Impact! who have made this possible. In this edition we take our regional focus to Eastern Europe. This vibrant and important region is now represented by a seat on the EuRA Council and has much to contribute to the future of our industry. Helmut Berg turns his considerable industry knowledge and analytical skill to the complex topic of Value vs Price in the current relocation market. Fons Trompenaars lets us into his inner world and there is a review of the EuRA Quality Seal, now in its third, highly successful year. It has been quite a year for EuRA. The cancellation of the Palma event due the ash cloud gave us a challenge we never thought we would have to face. However, thanks to the support of our brilliant team here at EuRA, our venues in Palma and most importantly, our fantastically loyal members and delegates, we are delighted
to be returning next April. It was great to see so many people join us in Frankfurt in June for our AGM and reception and to welcome over 150 guests to our reception in Seattle in October. We have some very exciting developments underway and we are forging important strategic partnerships that will help both EuRA and its members in the future. Don’t forget to sign up for the EuRA/ Oxford Brookes Relocation Coaching Programme. Over 60 delegates have undertaken the programme and the response has been extremely positive. I am very much looking forward to welcoming you to Palma next year! Tad Zurlinden EuRA CEO
EuRA welcomes 34 new members EuRA has been delighted to welcome 34 companies into membership during the 10 months leading up to November 2010. In no particular order, they are: Enter Dresden Relocation Services, FS Relocations, Relocare, Baxters International Removals Ltd, UTS GmbH & Co. KG, KMPG, AXA PPP Healthcare, Kingsdale Relocation Limited, Cairo Relocations, Lodge Services Relocation SA, Formula One Corporate Solutions Pvt Ltd, Expat Relocation France, Bridge Street Worldwide Services Apartments, Echo-Xpats Relocation Consulting, TRC Global Solutions
Harsch opens new offices WITH a firm intention to reinforce its presence in the Swiss canton of Vaud and the Swiss/French speaking region, Harsch has announced the opening of its Lausanne office as of September 2010. This new office location will allow the team at Harsch to respond to customer needs in an even more efficient manner. “Like in our offices in Geneva, Zurich and Basel, we offer clients our expertise in international and national moving, relocation, record storage management & fine art transport,” says CEO, Bertrand Harsch.
Inc, The Global Mobility Advisors, International Relocation Services SA de CV, Vesteda Groep BV, France Immigration International, AIM International Relocations Ltd, Pro-Link GLOBAL Inc, Wellcome Abroad, Metrica Relocations Plus, Relocation.No, LTA Relocation, Relocation Services Strohmayer, relocation-muc, S4U Relocation SARL, RELO JAPAN, Bright Relocations, HRS Relocation International LLC, Schmid Relocation, and TRC Global Solutions Inc. Details of each new member can be found at www.eura-relocation.com
Obituary: Gene Torre TRIBUTES have poured in to the family of Gene Torre, the third President of EuRA, who died in June after a long struggle with cancer. Gene, who was general manager of RAA Relocation Services for 20 years, was a beloved husband and father. “Gene is remembered very fondly in EuRA and throughout his years in membership he helped to take the association forward very positively,” says Tad Zurlinden, CEO. “He was loved by many for his positive and happy nature.” Gene served three terms in Vietnam and received three bronze stars. He will be buried with great honour on 16 November at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC.
New Council takes Brief profiles of the 9 EuRA Council members for the current year. Helmut Berg, EuRA President: Born in March 1945, Helmut lives and works in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Most of his business life has been spent working for German companies owned by US corporations. He is an expert in marketing and franchising for service oriented products. Helmut has been in the relocation industry since 1987 when he started as general manager for PHH Homequity in Germany. In 1990 he founded RSB Deutschland, a leading relocation provider in Germany. As president in his third term Helmut believes he has the skills to drive EuRA forward and increase its success as the mouthpiece for the European Industry. Helmut’s extensive experience in international relocation along with his experience in marketing is certainly an asset to the council. firstname.lastname@example.org Kathryn Andrews, EuRA Vice President: Managing director of ABC Relocation, Andrews Blakeway Consult and represents the Benelux region in EuRA, having joined the Council in 2006. The company is based in Tervuren near Brussels, Belgium but also maintains an office in the UK. As well as being Vice President of EuRA since 2008, Kathryn is also Chair of the 2011 Conference in Palma de Mallorca. Originally from Yorkshire, England, she relocated several times within the UK and also lived in South Africa and Switzerland before moving to Belgium in 1990 with her young family. ABC Relocation has held the EuRA Quality Seal accreditation since 2008, and has also won service awards from major influential organisations such as Brookfield GRS and Weichert RRI. Kathryn is fluent in both English and French. email@example.com Sabine Baerlocher (Central Region): The owner and CEO of Active Relocation, Switzerland, based in Geneva. Sabine studied law at Geneva University and after graduating in 1993, spent time working in the US. On returning to Switzerland, she continued her professional career managing the real estate and
expansion department of a branch company from the second largest Swiss retailer (Simeco Management, Coop Group). In 2000 she was invited to join the board of that company and subsequently bought Active Relocation. In 2008 Sabine was appointed by the Swiss government as a member of the Forum SME, an expert commission representing the interests of small and medium enterprises. Sabine is a past president of the boards of TIRA, The International Relocation Associates, and of SARA, the Swiss Association for Relocation Agents. She has achieved her EARP Fellowship designation, the highest qualification awarded in by the Academy. firstname.lastname@example.org Jon Harman (Eastern Region): Joined Move One Relocations in the summer of 2005 as a consultant conducting home searches in Budapest. Within a few months, he was presented with the opportunity to take on the coordination of destination services for all Move One locations. Since that time, he has seen his coordination team (colleague, Kasia Pinska handles the immigration side) expand to 15 and counting, and he has taken on the responsibilities of group operations manager. John supports his local offices and clients during this exciting growth phase. He was introduced to EuRA at the 2006 convention in Budapest and has enjoyed the sense of community fostered by EuRA via their conferences and other activities. He welcomes the opportunity to represent Eastern Europe as we work to support and promote EuRA Members and the industry as whole. email@example.com Åse Löfgren Gunsten (Northern Region): Was voted onto the EuRA Council in 2006 as representative for the Northern Region. Being a member of EuRA and participating in the various trainings and events, meeting other managers, participating in the networking EuRA provides has been very positive and helped develop the company into what it is today. Åse’s main interest has been in the area of training and education. Today she heads the training committee of EuRA and is the EuRA representative at EARP (European Academy of
Relocation Professionals). Åse is the owner and CEO of Nordic Relocation Group. She is born in Norway and grew up in the Philippines. She holds a Swedish degree in Nursing from the Red Cross School of Nursing and also a degree from the Stockholm University in Human Resource Management. firstname.lastname@example.org Christine Martin (Southern Region): Born in Paris, of dual Spanish-French nationality, Christine studied law at the University of Barcelona and is fluent in French, Spanish, English, and Swedish as well as having working knowledge of Catalan. She lived and studied in Stockholm, Sweden for three years. Over the years she founded and managed two textile companies selling finished garments to the United States, France, and Scandinavia. Then, together with her late husband John Barclay, an American businessman, she launched Olympic Advisors S.L. (OASL) in 1988 for the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic Games. Olympic Advisors has since established itself in the market as a leading DSP company in Spain, has been an active member of EuRA for over ten years and plans on playing an important role in the relocation industry for many years to come. email@example.com Patrick Oman (Northern Region): A veteran of the relocation industry. Prior to his involvement with IrishRelo, which itself was one of the pioneers in Ireland having been established in 1994, Patrick served on the board of OMNI (Overseas Moving Network International) and was President of that organisation from 2000 to 2002. He became managing director of IrishRelo in 2002, ERC in 1996 and EuRA prior to their Dublin conference, when IrishRelo was Gold Sponsor. He has been invited onto various industry committees and is currently on the editorial advisory panel of ‘Mobility’. As a strong supporter of the EARP and EuRA Quality Seal Initiatives, Patrick has achieved the EARP ERQ Level 2 and IrishRelo was among the first to achieve the Quality Seal accreditation. firstname.lastname@example.org
Isabel Reis (Southern Region): Triplicado’s senior partner and manager, Isabel started life as a third culture kid in Angola. Isabel finished her higher education in translation and Portuguese language and culture, at Lisbon University. She also studied at the French Institute and British Council, achieving full qualifications for teaching Portuguese to relocatees to Portugal. In 1987 Isabel began teaching expatriates Portuguese Language and Culture, at the same time as working with a government sponsored relocation initiative. In 1992, she became lead teacher in the AUTOEUROPA Ford / Volkswagen project to 200 families moving to Portugal. This involved taking over all teaching and translation activities, employing around 30 teachers, consultants, technical translators and interpreters. To facilitate these activities and to meet the strong demand for relocation services, Isabel formed Triplicado Relocation. In 2000 Triplicado took-over Portugal Relocation, its main competitor. email@example.com
Sylvie Schmit Verbrugghen (Benelux): Founder and managing director of European Relocation Services S.A. in Luxembourg. Sylvie is a Belgian national, married to a Luxembourger and has lived in the Grand Duchy for 24 years. She is a languages and economics graduate and worked in the relocation industry for more than 15 years before setting up her own company in 2004. The company has been awarded the coveted Quality Seal and has been awarded ‘Best Ex-Pat Services’ by HROne for 2007, 2008 and 2009. With the introduction of the new European Union immigration legislation in October 2008, Sylvie worked closely with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Immigration Service in studying the implications for third-country nationals and helped to iron out many of the problems associated with its initial implementation. Sylvie aims to use her experience and expertise to promote EuRA and the relocation industry worldwide, to foster better understanding and cooperation between HR managers and the industry, and to share best practice and strengthen relationships between the member countries. firstname.lastname@example.org
GENEVA Head Office � ZURICH BASEL LAUSANNE
www.harsch.ch Autumn 2010
BIG policies to boost the standard The changes that were implemented for the 2010 version of the EuRA Quality Standard were sweeping. Dominic Tidey reviews the main points.
ACH year EuRA brings together a forum to review the EuRA Quality Seal. The forum recommends changes, improvements and additions that keep the standard relevant and challenging. “This year we consulted the RMC’s about what they wanted to see in the EuRA Quality Seal and one big change we made was the requirement for five standard business policies to be incorporated into the Quality Manual,” says Dominic Tidey, EuRA operations manager. “To make the process less onerous on members qualifying for the EuRA Quality Seal, we have drawn up templates for each policy which can be amended to fit an individual company’s needs.” Business Continuity The first policy to be addressed was the Business Continuity Plan. Every
business should plan for disaster, so knowing exactly how to go forward if disaster strikes is essential, especially when working in a service environment. “Just because our office is flooded doesn’t mean that the transferees will not arrive,” explains Dominic. “This policy should set out what contingency planning is in place so that operations can continue. “At its most basic, this can mean how and where back-ups are stored, and that it’s possible for key staff to work remotely or from home while new arrangements are made. It is vital that clients know that you plan for the best, but are prepared for the worst.” Anti Corruption The second new addition is a requirement for an anti-corruption policy. “This is more controversial, in that knowing what constitutes corruption can
QUALITY appropriate business behaviour and the draft policy available to members going through the EuRA Quality Seal is underpinned by these.”
The EuRA Quality Seal is a tool for genuinely reflecting the quality and excellence of the services provided by EuRA members. Incorporating these policies helps to ensure that clients can have complete piece of mind.
CSR Issues Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) affects us all. This third policy is obvious in the context of large organisations where the integration of their social and environmental responsibilities will be set out in this document. Says Dominic: “The two cornerstones of CSR are equal opportunities for staff and involvement of the organisation in the wider community. EU legislation continues to ensure equality in the workplace and the CSR policy sets this out along with encouraging a commitment to staff involvement in community projects.”
be a grey area,” says Dominic. “As we’re all aware, certain countries are rife with a bribe culture and it is here that the need for an anti-corruption policy is the most evident. However, this could also apply to accepting gifts; when does a present become an inducement? “There are national and international statutes and guidelines concerning
Environmental Sitting alongside CSR comes environmental responsibility, a very important part of any quality manual. Again, the impact of environmental sensitivity is absolutely paramount in large manufacturing corporations, but even smaller service based organisations still print, and travel.
Dominic explains: “In relocation, many cities give such large financial incentives for using low emission transport such as hybrid cars, that living up to to this policy is increasingly becoming a business necessity rather than a burden!” Health & Safety Lastly, EuRA has incorporated the need to have a fully functioning health and safety policy in place. “In more and more countries, even the smallest of companies are legally bound to appoint a health and safety representative, responsible for overseeing the storage of hazardous materials, such as printer toner, cleaning materials etc, as well as for recording workplace accidents and carry out risk assessments,” says Dominic. “Implementing these policies may seem like an additional burden, but we are responsible for our place in the world, and how we interact. “The EuRA Quality Seal is a tool for genuinely reflecting the quality and excellence of the services provided by EuRA members. Incorporating these policies helps to ensure that clients can have complete piece of mind.” n
Quality Seal update SINCE EuRA launched the Quality Seal in 2008, over 60 members companies have achieved their certification, covering 120 offices worldwide – and demand is still growing. Each year the Quality Standard that underpins the EuRA Quality Seal is reviewed and amended. This year it was radically altered to include tougher new guidelines on assessing KPI’s but more importantly, as a result of dialogue with corporate clients and relocation management companies, five mandatory policies were introduced (see main story) One aim of the EuRA Quality Seal is to raise the bar in terms of service delivery and process management, but another is to give EuRA members a tool that they can use to genuinely mark themselves out among the competition. Like ISO 9001, the EQS sets out to specify, manage and control all of the processes happening in a company. The Quality Standard that underpins the EQS consists of six core areas of examination, requiring companies to
set out exactly how the stated aims are achieved. The whole process is a great way to review and refresh how members do what they do. Members who have been through the process have found building their quality manual a really positive experience. EuRA asked every Quality Seal holder about the process and feedback was very positive. “We have taken members comments seriously and are looking at how we can further improve this ground -breaking initiative,” explains Dominic Tidey.
in Seattle in October,” adds Dominic. “Once again, the EQS drew a great deal of attention from corporates and RMC’s alike as well as DSP’s across the globe who want to undertake the audit.” For details of the EQS and a list of accredited members go to www. eura-relocation.com and click on the Quality Seal tab.
Further review There will be a further review to the EuRA Quality Standard for 2011, but nowhere near as many additions are expected this year. The new EuRA Quality Standard 2011-2012 will not be implemented until June 2011, so anyone who is preparing their Quality Manual for an audit prior to June will be working to the 2010 EuRA Quality Standard, as will anyone re-certifying prior to June 2010. “We took the opportunity to promote the EuRA Quality Seal and the members who hold it at the WERC Symposium
Zen and the Art of
CULTURAL INNOVATION The EuRApean talks to the renowned cultural expert and international author, Fons Trompenaars, who will be keynote speaker at the EuRA Conference, Palma de Mallorca 2011. Who is Fons Trompenaars (in three sentences)? Product of a French mother and a Dutch father and blessed with three daughters and a beautiful wife. Married 32 years, I’m a family man. I love to build a bridge through the high academic and make it practical, which I do as part of a trio including Charles Hampden-Turner (I am Charles’ voice and Charles is my pen) and and Peter Williams who is our internet wizard. What do you think is your greatest personal achievement to date? Producing my three daughters, now 28, 23 & 21. Another ongoing challenge is to find the right match between private and business life. I travel a great deal, generally one or two days, but a recent trip was cancelled due to my passport being full. When I realised it was only two years old, this was bad! What inspires and motivates you? Feedback from clients, either in the form of applause for lectures, or personal comments such as “I read your book two weeks ago and it helped me to solve a problem.” I love to help people become more effective. What is your advice to someone beginning their career in global mobility management? If you are German, Spanish or French, try to influence your television by taking away the dubbing synchronised talking and use sub-titles instead – learn your languages and it will become as easy for you as for a Dutch guy! No one else understands Dutch! Also, because global mobility management is such a broad issue, practice one or two specialisiations and find others who complement you in doing that. Who do you most admire, and why? My father and my mother, who are both still alive. My father, who has just turned 86, is a source of inspiration and still sharp like a knife – full of humour and cynicism, which I like. He worked all his life until just two years ago, and for the last 20 years he wasn’t even paid. Also, my wonderful colleague Charles will turn 76 shortly and he is still writing almost a book every year – you just can’t stop him! Fons Trompenaars is a world expert on international management and innovation. He is the author of the global bestsellers, ‘Riding the waves of culture: understanding cultural diversity in business’ and ‘Riding the whirlwind: commecting people and organisations in a culture of innovation’, which have sold hundreds of thousands of copies. He is the co-author with Charles Hampden-Turner of six other books on crosscultural business and innovation.
What do you never travel without? Toothbrush is too obvious, so it has to be my Blackberry. I once forgot it and felt so small and inadequate. I even enjoy playing games on it when I’m desperate. Before the Blackberry it was the Game Boy – playing silly games can be a great antidote to intellectual overload.
INTERVIEW What is your favourite book? ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’, the story of a father and his son on a motorbike travelling through America, mixed with philosophy and how Zen helped him maintain his motorcycle. It’s a very insightful and interesting read. What is your favourite film? The mix of suspense and humour is great. One that I recommend is “El Secreto de Sus Ojos – The Secret in Their Eyes”. An Argentinian murder mystery that won many international prizes. The TV series I really rated was The Sopranos. When are you happiest? Our new holiday home in Amsterdam is in the final stages of construction and the architect is calling twice a day with little issues. I can’t wait to use it as a base for my writing. I’m at my happiest writing while sitting on a chair at the beach or somewhere similar that puts me in a relaxed mode. I am also a dog lover. I have three, one of whom is 16 and very old now. The middle is six and the youngest is six months. They are so loyal – even if I leave them for two weeks they are so happy to see you when you return. They say that “the more you travel, the more you love home” and I think the dogs have something to do with that.
If you had the choice of living anywhere in the world, where would it be? With my job, I could live anywhere. I suppose the most practical place would be close to an airport! But I like variation, so would spend a year in Manhattan, a year in Paris, a year in Amsterdam (where I already live) and a year in Buenes Aires. Do you have a favourite saying? “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you”. In business this has given me a enormous amount of success. If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Neil Young, the singer songwriter. I have so many of his records that I’ve listened to time and again. I have met him in person, but would love to have dinner with him. I wonder if he makes noises while eating! If a film were made of your life, who would you like to play Fons Trompenaars? Jack Nicholson. I would love it! I love his cynicism and his humour. I don’t like moralists, and he definitely is not in that category. What is your next ‘big project’? In about six months from now I believe we will have an innovative online vehicle for anyone wanting to use our materials. It’s a
very ambitious project that will extensively improve our current offerings. I can’t say more at this stage. How would you like to be remembered? You mean what would I like to see on my tombstone? ‘Thanks Fons for helping me out!’ I would like to be remembered as a person who helped others to perform better. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? My company comprises only 20 people and maybe it should have been 100. Why didn’t we grow bigger? I would never have wanted it to grow too big as I would like to know everyone well in the company. I still have answers to business questions that I have so far not had the opportunity to disseminate. And I’d like my company to be less associated with me personally and more recognised for the rest of the team that works there. But I’m still working on these things; life is far from over yet! n
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“Someone once told me that if you drew two diagonal lines across Europe, they’d cross at the Danube exactly as it splits Budapest in two. I don’t know if that’s true but it does lend some realism to the idea of relocation to the heart of Europe,” says Stuart McAlister of Inter Relocation Group. In this special feature we talk to Stuart and two other experts – Adrienne Deák of Euromove and Laszlo Weiner of Move One – about relocation in Hungary.
UNGARY was thrown into the global spotlight in early October with the news that a tide of toxic waste was heading downstream towards the River Danube. The world watched as nine people were killed and 150 injured when a torrent of highly caustic red liquid from a metals factory gushed over nearby villages, fouling waterways and sweeping away people, livestock and possessions. Thanks to an intense effort locally and with international support over a two week period, the panic was over. Tests in Hungary, as well as in neighbouring Croatia, Serbia and Slovakia, showed that the water’s pH level was reduced to around normal for that time of year, according to Philip Weller of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River. Damage to affected areas of the country was severe and the clean up operation will continue for some time, with the threat of further problems still there. But this narrowly-avoided international
disaster demonstrated that the Hungary’s infrastructure was able to cope. While it can be argued that there is a lot still to be done to prevent future incidents, the situation might have been very different 40 years ago when the country was under Soviet rule. Today, Hungary is a modern European country with some interesting demographics (provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). With a population of 10.35 million (roughly the same as Belgium, Portugal and the Czech Republic), the number of foreign-born inhabitants is a massive 3.79 million, of which 1.79 million are actual foreigners. Approximately four fifths of the country’s GDP is based on international trade. The Hungarian language is unrelated to any other in Europe and fiendish in its complexity, but with a thriving expat community, that doesn’t seem to put many people off. Hungarians often lag behind in learning foreign languages. Should there be a problem with your internet connection,
electricity etc. the local tradesman visiting you will probably have no grasp of English, thus it will certainly help in everyday life to master a couple of sentences of the language. Budapest is a safe, beautiful city in which to work and live. The commute times for families with children can be less than ideal if dad, or indeed mum has to work on the other side of the Danube. However, the view from a villa in the Buda hills can certainly help to take the edge off any shortcomings in the transport department. According to EuRA members operating in this area, the outlook for relocation in Central Europe is more optimistic today than it was as little as two years ago. Factories, complementary industry and shared service facilities have all started to rediscover Hungary in a big way. The multinationals who started to move out of Central Europe during the worst of the credit crunch are now reopening their facilities, as well as entirely new businesses to the area. Relocation specialists are looking
S E G N E L CHAL heart of Europe at the
forward to emerging Hungarian businesses having the need for professional relocation services. Currently the vast majority of assignees are still representatives from major multinational and western companies, but the instances of Hungarian groups investing and sending personnel overseas is rapidly growing. Automotive industry There is also an increasing presence of Chinese and South Korean businesses. Many of the far eastern assignees are still single, junior managers, practically living out of suitcase, but these low-cost ventures give way to bigger investments in terms of both financial and human resources. One of the most popular sectors for assignees remains the automotive industry, with major plants by Daimler, GM, Audi currently present, as well as complementary industries by parts and electronics groups like Bosch or Continental. One of the sectors that has seen a
marked increase in the last two years has been that of shared service centres, where major companies like Morgan Stanley, CitiBank, or Vodafone have set up facilities to take care of the IT, AR or payroll functions for all their international offices. According to Laszlo Weiner of Move One, when dealing with relocation in Central Europe it’s always important to keep in mind that the challenges do not come so much from moving internally within these states but rather moving to and from Western Europe and the former Soviet countries. “Moves within Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are often comparatively straightforward as much of the culture and the accommodation practices will be familiar to assignees, but when dealing with executives used to living in, say, Paris, it can be different,” says Laszlo. “Also, a lot of relocation in this region deals with assignees coming from countries outside of the European Union, which adds extra layers of legal obligations and procedural requirements which, if you
have not dealt with before, can be costly and time consuming for all involved”. Most of the service and manufacturing industries are located in and around Budapest, with good infrastructure and motorway connection, says Adrienne Deák, whose company Euromove has been operating both as a removal company and a destination service provider since 2002 and is a founding member of the Hungarian Movers Association. “Budapest is a vibrant, beautiful city with great architecture and cultural heritage. Quaility accomodation, international schools as well as private healthcare are among the highs that you will find when relocating to Budapest. The city has an abundance of cultural events and the local expatriate press and blogs are very up to date with what is happening.” One of most challenging categories of relocation that always come with particular issues are those assignees that are being sent to the Hungarian countryside. Move One recently oversaw a move for a small group from a US energy company who
HUNGARY were setting up a facility outside Budapest and, quite aside from the additional logistical challenges, had to make sure it does not all come as too much of a shock to the assignees themselves. “Once outside of Budapest’s city limits the instance of locals who will speak any English declines dramatically, as does the availability of housing up to western standards, familiar shops or products, internet connectivity, and infrastructure in general,” explains Duncan. “Moving to Budapest, an expat has all the familiar resources available in a modern metropolis to cushion his entry into the new environment – but not so much in the countryside. None of the assignees had lived outside of America before, so Move One had to make sure they were comprehensively orientated and educated within their new situation. Through tours, day trips, and even an introduction to the next nearest expat community of Korean assignees, we were able to make their transition as easy for them as possible.” Stuart McAlister of Budapest-based Inter Relocation Group has been owner/manager of the Budapest-based Inter Relocation Group for eight years “and it’s the human element of unpredictability of my job that keeps me motivated,” he admits. “Hungary has always been a tough market for relocation service providers,” says Stuart. “Prices have been the lowest in the region, and by that token most
HUNGARIAN EXPERTISE: Stuart McAllister, Adrienne Deak and Laszlo Weiner.
of Europe, for several years now. Stiff competition has forced the local destination services providers to innovate (Inter Relocation had a standard SLA years before any global relocation management company ever asked us to agree to one) and offer an extremely high level of service. Focus on the capital “The fact that the real estate agents don’t charge a fee to the tenant can make it hard to justify asking a local corporate client to pay for a home search. As such we have to show quantifiable value from our services or we won’t get the job.” Whereas almost all relocation work in Hungary used to focus on the capital, this has changed significantly over the last two years for Inter Relocation Group. “More than half our work is now delivered outside the capital, which has presented a steep learning curve with regard to managing staff remotely,” adds Stuart.
Welcome to Our World
I n t e r n a t i o n a l C o r p o r a t e Re l o c a t i o n s
The Inter Relocation Group specialises in making corporate relocations as smooth as possible, allowing our assignees to focus on their new job and minimising the stress on their families. The Inter Relocation Group is managed by expatriates for expatriates. We understand the needs, wants and concerns of a relocating family because we’ve been there ourselves.
Inter Relocation Group Ltd. 1068 Budapest Felso Erdosor Utca 12. I em. 4. www.interrelo.com U email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’ve also been involved in projects so large that they impact the local community – in one case we have even been consulted by the local mayor’s office.” Although red tape and general bureaucracy is lower than many European countries and the service level has improved in recent years, it could still be a daunting process negotiating the maze of government services ranging from immigration to arranging a tax card or getting your diploma translated officially, according to Adrienne. “It will always be worth contacting a local reputable relocation company to handle this on your behalf as it will save you a lot of time and effort,” she explains. “Finding a suitable home and negotiating a good deal with the owner, then liaising the details of your lease contracts with the lawyers is far from easy. Your relocation agent, with local knowledge will do this much more effectively, in a fraction of time for you.” n
VALUE VS. PRICE:
the eternal battle
EuRA President, Helmut Berg gives a rallying call to the profession involving hearts, minds and performance.
Where are we going? For some time there has been a trend from a transactional relocation service into a more advisory service for strategic purposes. It is a future focusing on talent management and workforce mobility. The search, promotion and retention of talent, ensuring seamless mobility to strategic locations, is now the driving factor. Our industry will be more integrated with client operations, with the need to employ legal and taxation professionals into our teams. Yet are we hindering ourselves? There is an increasing lack of confidence in parts of the industry, especially when destination service providers feel they are not taken seriously. There is no good reason for this. DSPs - as well as other god providers in the industry – make very important contributions to the functioning of an internationally structured world economy. It would create serious problems if, as of tomorrow, all such service providers ceased business at the same time. What is it we work with? All relocation providers are successful by giving their clients and their clients’ employees the best possible support. To achieve this they have three ‘raw materials’ to work with: time, heart and performance. Time cannot be increased; an hour is
an hour. Each action requires a defined amount of time. If this decreases, performance rates change accordingly. If less, so is the expected success of the performance. There is a loss of quality, like a doctor’s consultation where 60 minutes will bring more accurate results than 30 minutes. Heart is often forgotten. We constantly talk about optimizing processes in terms of technical and operational procedures. But, especially in our business, empathy plays a major role. There is much talk about ‘social competence’; this requires time in order to come to fruition and not remain merely a promise.
The lower the fee for the service required, the lower the quality of the ‘essential components’ of the service.
ANY ongoing discussions with providers in the relocation industry paint a clear picture: The environment is getting more challenging. The requirements are increasingly complex. The time available for the delivery of certain services is getting shorter. In addition to reducing the timeframes, budgets are cut as well – at an even higher percentage. Perhaps the high level of respect held in the past for the performance and achievements of the relocation service providers is decreasing? Analysing this promotes two reactions: Either to moan and complain, or to face the situation and take responsibility. More complex requirements make business interesting and challenging and there is little we can do to stop this evolution of our industry.
Performance consists of two components. First, there is know-how, expertise and experience. Second, there is quality of implementation. (This includes genuine friendliness as well as fast and reliable performance). These three ‘raw materials’ have a high value and they have their price. The lower the fee for the service required, the lower the quality of the ‘essential components’ of the service. Translated into practice, if only low fees can be invoiced, we must pay our employees lower salaries, leading to less qualified personnel. In reality, increased quality expectations of clients and customers require ever more specialised staff with high qualifications. A consultant who, with good negotiating skills and market expertise, manages to reduce the rental price for the time of a three-year assignment rental by 5 per cent, is probably saving at least as much (possibly
more) money than the cost of a home search programme. The importance of quality enhancement To become a relocation provider, you do not need to have a university degree. It requires no special training at all. Perhaps that is the reason why we do not get the attention and respect we would like to get. EuRA is focussed on continuing to provide training that will enhance professional expertise and quality, helping the industry to achieve the status it deserves. The aim must be to create a professional job description for the industry that will be taught and recognised by educational institutions and supra-national institutions. This cannot be created overnight, but it will be achieved. Strategies must be discussed to promote quality enhancements in the industry (EuRA Quality Seal, Oxford Brookes initiative etc) in order to justify reasonable fees. The relocation market as a whole includes both buyers/clients and suppliers/ service providers. Both sides have identical interests. Both aim to become economically successful, but is that a shared interest? Providers want to help make the client successful, but do clients have an interest in letting service providers be successful? They should, because only economically successful service providers can deliver a good job.
VALUE In many areas the profession is already effecting savings for its clients, e.g. during negotiation of the rental price and other conditions in the area of housing. We often take them for granted and fail to document and communicate them. We must get better at that!
Budgeting/Planning is walking a tightrope What is a low fee? What is an appropriate fee? There is no clear answer. A fee is appropriate whenever it allows a contribution margin which in the total of all revenue, allows for a profit. Each product has a different share for gross margin. And since we do not know in what quantities and in which ratio we have to deliver the different products, planning in this business is not easy. Clients should assume that fees are quoted to allow the service provider a profit. This is a necessity. If it is assumed by the client that fee proposals can be reduced by 20 to 30 per cent, this suggests that the provider has not taken the client seriously in the first place. A provider who can give a 20-30 per cent rebate in the negotiation, either risks his business or has tried to start the negotiations by taking advantage of the client. It is no surprise that the client wants to spend as little money as possible. But what does they compare it to? Do the client’s savings have to be realised at the expense of our fees? There are many other areas where savings can be realised ¬– housing allowances, home leaves etc. All cost cuts are at the expense of the respective providers and, in the end, also at the expense of the transferees who are receiving less service bit by bit.
We should constantly consider what innovations will help us move forward.
The fundamental question is: Can the entire assignment process be made significantly less costly if the relocation provider’s fees are reduced? Are there not other areas that require less input of time, heart and performance that offer more room for cost cuts? The driver for corporate cost reduction has a name: Procurement. We have to get used to this. Purchasing departments have a very different approach from traditional HR departments, which very rarely make decisions on their own these days. The profession needs to study the mindset and decision making parameters of procurement
departments and adjust to them. What does an assignment cost as a whole? What is effectively saved, if the costs are reduced at our end? The price discussion is beginning to make DSP’s doubt themselves and they are now beginning to question if they “deserve” higher fees. Look forward. You are great! The relocation industry is divided into different types of providers. All providers in the industry - especially RMC’s and DSP’s – should act as a community and develop strategies to counter the pressure that both are facing. Do we know enough about each other? Do we respect each other? What innovations are there – for clients and for us? How we can help clients to reduce costs without harming ourselves? We should work together and not be divided. We should constantly consider what innovations will help us move forward. We should not be complaining, but take responsibility. And we should, in turn, expect appropriate treatment from our clients. We have to make our clients understand the significance of our performance. We are important. We can be confident, based on wise use of time, heart and performance. In our book, value will always beat price. n Helmut Berg is CEO of RSB Deutschland GmbH
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HE GREAT and the good in international global mobility expertise was well represented as EuRA welcomed over 150 guests to its fourth annual US Reception in late October. Hosted by EuRA President Helmut Berg and CEO Tad Zurlinden, the event coincided with the WERC Global Mobility Symposium, held this year in the fascinating city of Seattle. Says Tad: “From the 28th floor of the Renaissance Madison Hotel, the view across the city was brilliant, with the added bonus that the legendary Seattle rain held off for a few hours. A big thanks to everyone who attended!”
Guest speaker, relocation legend and past WERC President Beth Archibald, gave a truly inspiring welcome to our delegates, reminding them all to ‘live deliberately’. Our pictures show just how well everyone enjoyed themselves at the function, which after the EuRA Annual International Relocation Congress has become one of the most significant networking events on the calendar. n
New Tad Zurlinden and Helmut Berg from EuRA with Karen Reid and Cici Thomson of WERC.
Intercultural competence is a core skill for any relocation professional and one in which everyone involved in the relocation profession needs to invest. The world of intercultural research is moving fast and there are some excellent new projects underway, including EuRA’s participation in the Berlitz Observatory. ONE OF the great benefits of intercultural competence is how we can set aside our stereotypical views about cultures other than our own and work positively with people knowing their cultural imperatives are different to ours. But as important as understanding the wider cultural perspective of an individual’s background is, we must also work with the individual, not just the culture. Over the past decade, business schools all over the world have begun incorporating coaching into their global MBA programmes, alongside intercultural
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CULTURE training. The theory behind using a dual approach at this level of education is that once we can understand the over-arching cultural baggage that we are all carrying, we can then use coaching skills to work effectively with an individual from a culture other than our own. “Coaching and interculturalism have existed as separate disciplines, missing cross-fertilization opportunities,” says Philippe Rosinski, one of the most interesting commentators in this very new field whose book, “Coaching Across Cultures” has won wide acclaim. “Having worked as a professional coach for the last 10 years and having lived across cultures all my life, I have been eager to systematically integrate these two domains.” Counselling Coaching is a series of tools, linked quite closely to person-centred counselling. Where counselling was directed towards those people with a specific psychological or personal issue, coaching uses similar tools to assist professionals to identify, clarify and implement their goals. Relocation professionals are constantly working with people in a state of change, from cultures other than our own. Using coaching skills can help them to identify the individual’s needs and find solutions that can assist their transition. Using intercultural skills can help to
identify issues that arise when moving to a different culture and helping them to shape a perspective about their new home. Combine these skills and you have a very powerful set of tools to assist transferees in transitioning to a new life, culturally and personally. Two years ago, EuRA and Oxford Brookes University Business School began development on a coaching programme for relocation professionals, taking intercultural research and experience as a central part of the course. As part of a move towards providing innovative and cost effective training solutions for managers and consultants alike, EuRA designed this programme to be truly global, remotely accessible and completely web-based. On the EuRA website there are several webinar recordings to introduce the programme. The response from delegates who have studied the first three of 12 modules to have been delivered has been uniformly positive. EuRA provides academic support from both OBU and relocation industry course tutors. But the jewel in the programme is the shared learning environment which allows participants to communicate with each other. The course has been designed to facilitate this to bring out experiences and knowledge that relate directly to everyone’s own cultural perspectives. For more information go to www. eura-relocation.com n
Cross-cultural competence refers to the knowledge, skills and affect/motivation that enable individuals to adapt effectively in cross-cultural environments. It is a set of variables that contribute to intercultural effectiveness. A few people seem to be born with cultural competence, but the rest of us have to put considerable effort into developing it. Biases and prejudices need to be examined and cross-cultural skills developed. Role models need to be found. Spending as much time as possible with other people who share a passion for cultural competence is another key activity – this is where EuRA initiatives are particularly useful. Those people working with different ethnic and cultural groups can become more culturally competent by advancing through three main stages: developing awareness, acquiring knowledge, and developing and maintaining cross-cultural skills. In other words, it requires long-term commitment. It cannot be learned in a few hours and is much easier to talk about than to accomplish.
Karen Counterman is business development manager at Roomservice by CORT, the UKâ€™s leading furniture solutions provider. For further information, please call her on +44 (0) 20 8397 9344 or email her on karen.counterman@ roomservicebycort.com.
Creating solutions with
Furniture provision can occasionally be overlooked within the corporate mobility sector, but is this the way it should be? Karen Counterman takes a look at the role furniture has to play within the relocation process and how effective use can help solve a range of problems that the sector currently faces.
N THE face of it, furniture is one of the last pieces of the relocation puzzle. Once the new property, school, doctor and sports clubs are all finalised, furniture is the icing on the cake that helps to turn an empty house into a home. But in truth it is an area that requires significant planning at a much earlier stage in the process. Getting the furniture provision conundrum right can not only create more housing options, but also make the choices that have to be made that much easier. One of the most pressing challenges in the sector at this time involves property search. It’s no secret that there is a general lack of suitable homes available to rent to relocating assignees in the UK, but the issue becomes even more acute when trying to find furnished properties. By deciding on furniture provision earlier on in the process, a wider range of options become available. Furniture rental makes unfurnished properties not just a realistic alternative, but a preferred option; why put up with the often second-rate furniture provided by a landlord when you can choose the exact items you wish to match your requirements and taste? Or purchase low-grade ‘top up’ items which later need to be disposed of? Widening the options available is the very definition of win-win. The assignee has a better chance of securing the home that truly meets their needs and wishes, while the greater choice makes the property search process quicker for all involved. Cost effective furniture rental also creates a realistic alternative to serviced accommodation. While popular for shorter-term relocations, serviced accommodation can be expensive. Rented furniture opens up flats and apartments that can be taken on a short let, allowing assignees to create
a home and benefit from a place they feel is ‘theirs’ while at the same time offering more privacy and a ‘real home’ environment. Serviced accommodation is often inappropriate, especially when families are also making the move, and a properly furnished home is more comfortable and agreeable to all involved. The nature of rental and the options available means that is incredibly easy for assignees to choose the furniture that reflects their personality and creates the feeling of home. The choices are virtually limitless and designed to help people match their needs with their budget. When it comes to longer-term relocation where furniture is being shipped, company policies often vary on the allowances available for items to be transported. Furniture rental has a big role to play in this situation, supplementing the items that have been left behind to ensure the assignee truly feels at home in their new house. Also, the time that it takes for items to be shipped means that the assignees can find themselves without furniture for considerable stretches. Again, furniture rental provides a neat, cost-effective solution. To bridge the gap between the assignees arriving and their furniture being delivered, rental is ideal and, again, allows for many more options when choosing where to live. The same applies at the end of the assignment when the shipment leaves before the property is vacated, ie furniture being shipped back to the country of origin ahead of the assignees’ return. The overriding tenet of corporate mobility is to create a home from home experience, as seen in the locations where people choose to live, the people they surround themselves with and the environment they choose to live. Furniture rental, providing choice and reflecting people’s needs, is an absolutely key element of this process. n
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