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Bottom line moves relocations

Companies send their employees abroad as a way to save money, and they expect relocation services to ensure high-efficiency transitions and a convenient 1-stop shop.

“This is peak season big time, there is no way I can interrupt my work for even five minutes,” a senior executive at one of the top relocation firms on the Hungarian market said, explaining why the questions of the Budapest Business Journal were, and would remain, unanswered. However, the busy state of the sector is far from season-bound.

As Klára Fóti, owner and managing director of ARC Relocation Hungary highlights, overall industry trends are pointing upwards.

“Our turnover in the first half of the year went up by some 25%,” she told the BBJ.

It’s about costs, you know

This optimism goes hand-in-hand with worldwide expectations. According to the latest findings of the Global Mobility Survey, the largest empirical set of data covering the related programs of over 1,000 international companies, a net growth of nearly 25% is projected in the industry in 2015.

The annual survey is conducted by Santa Fe Relocation Services, a global player. Bettina Zboray, global mobility manager at the firm’s Budapest headquarters confirms that the results underlie a clear phenomenon. “Companies tend to consider relocation a cost-cutting tool. They would think twice to fire skilled colleagues. They have realized it costs a lot more to hire and bring up to speed new employees than send experienced staff abroad.”

Fóti points out that terms of stay have shrunk significantly in the past few years. “It is mainly due to budget reasons, and a different approach is developed in large international companies. An average stay is about one and a half years instead of a typical period previously of three to four years.”

Zboray explains: “Corporate executives want to be able to track costs and see that deploying staff in foreign locations pays off. Old-fashioned excel sheets will not provide clarity in this case, though. Customized apps and software are badly needed. Santa Fe has developed its own tracking system that links all aspects of relocation and grants instant access to information for our clients and assignees. A real-time report can be generated at any time. It not only contains all costs related to the assignment, but provides detailed KPI and even a kind of ROI showing what it would have cost to hire somebody as a replacement.”

Better off with bundles

The crisis years forced the industry to adapt by offering new and more personalized services. Those times of hardship left less than 20 major players on the Budapest market.

“Companies decide to use professional help so that their workers can concentrate on what they are here for from day one, namely their job. They don’t want their staff to waste their valuable time with administrative matters,” Zboray notes.

Yet, companies still try to save by not signing up for certain services.

“Expats are often left on their own to register their car. If they forget and there is an accident, then they wish the job had been taken care of by us,” Zboray adds.

Relocation firms, therefore, advise clientele to use bundled services, and the firms themselves seek to be  perceived as a single point of contact for addressing a range of problems for their clients.

“Some are interested only in arranging immigration-related matters such as residence or work permits. Others prefer our full range of solutions. That includes home-searches, providing an overview on schooling, but we also help solve every-day issues such as arranging parking permits, dealing with public utility providers or, in the case of an accident, providing interpretation,” Violetta Sedulyák, a specialist at Settlers Relocation Kft. says.

Finding that edge

Since the services offered on the market are of a similar nature, competition has placed a focus on the customer experience. Settlers Relocation prides itself on its exemplary reaction time of handling problems, among other things.

“We also have customized CRM systems that help keep track of the state of play of ongoing matters. Furthermore, work processes have been developed with our subcontractors that ensure completing the ordered services in a timely fashion and high quality,” Sedulyák says.

Stability and in-house expertise are other key factors to achieve customer satisfaction, not only at ARC Relocation Hungary Kft.

“Most of our counselors have been working with ARC for eight to ten years, thus customer and HR managers do not need to be faced with frequently changing people here which they seem to appreciate,” Fóti adds. “Visa and immigration generate particularly high turnover which must be due to our exceptionally high quality of professional services in that field, with three counselors having a degree in law.”