As the shortage of household goods company qualified drivers continues to be a discussion topic in the industry, the challenge is only predicted to increase. Until automation and self-driving trucks become a reality, a relocating employee’s household goods cannot move without a driver.
NEI actively approaches the issue by:
- Careful selection of our household goods partners
- Using our independence from ownership of a household goods carrier to our advantage
- Placing an emphasis on planning and communication
- Encouraging creative solutions from our household goods service partners
Good drivers possess unique skills and attributes. In addition to safely driving and navigating a 53’ trailer in challenging city or residential neighborhoods and in all kinds of weather extremes, drivers must manage their crew, be responsible for avoiding damage to a relocating family’s belongings, and remain dedicated to keeping your relocating families satisfied with the household goods move experience.
These qualifications have led to what some drivers consider “non-competitive wages” for their role. Add to that the physical nature of the work -- and the fact that the average driver age is now over 56 years old and looking toward retirement -- and one can see the dilemma facing the industry.
Proactively Addressing the Challenge
Despite the driver shortage and other household good move challenges, NEI continues to help clients’ relocating families transition to where they need to be in a proactive manner, while keeping their household goods claims/stress to an absolute minimum.
Consider the following strategies we employ to “drive” proactive solutions:
- Strict Selection Criteria: For the selection of movers with whom we do business, NEI takes into consideration regular and peak summer months’ availability, as well as their resources, equipment and country-wide coverage. Further, NEI works diligently with each of our carefully vetted household goods service partners to ensure they not only have qualified drivers, but also carefully pack, move and unpack your relocating employees’ possessions – no matter what season it may be.
- Independence Advantage: As NEI does not own a household goods shipments company - and our independence of not being obligated to use specific providers – a clear differentiator is that we are free to use the best household goods firms in every region to serve our customers. A huge benefit of this freedom is our service partner redundancy with a supply chain that includes more than 50 agents representing seven major U.S. domestic household goods service partners and top independent companies, as well as more than 40 agents representing nine major international shipping and freight forwarding carriers.
- Emphasis on Planning and Communication: NEI encourages clear and frequent communications. Planning by all parties involved – NEI, our clients and household goods service partners, along with strong lengthy partnerships with industry leading household goods agents - are the key elements to ensuring drivers are available and moves are successful.
An ideal advance notice would be four weeks due to the large number of variables involved in a full-service household goods move. However, our extensive network of household goods providers has often been able to support expedited moves within one week.
- Small Shipment Container Solution: We carefully vet and work with several household goods partners to address driver shortages by using innovative services such as small shipment container programs – without the premium surcharge – to ensure your employees receive appropriate services, even during the moving industry’s busiest time of the year.
Our household goods service partners have the flexibility to source other modes of transportation, outside of the carrier’s fleet, which creates a cost-effective model. They use the same knowledgeable professionals who assist with international relocations to handle the domestic small shipment container program because those team members are trained specifically for efficient container packing, loading and delivery.
The shipment remains in containers throughout the move, including any Storage in Transit items, and is delivered to the new residence in the same container.
This practice avoids untimely delivery schedules, shuttle services, extra costs, multiple packing-unpacking-repacking of household goods items, and results in fewer damage and loss claims. In addition, shortened transit times mean more productive employees and a reduction in related costs, such as temporary living, meals, auto rental, to name a few.
Depending on the geographic area, NEI client companies have experienced an average savings of $375 per day – a weekly savings of $2,625!
Actively Planning to Avoid Issues
We can see how creative uses of advanced technology will bring positive changes to the relocation industry. As robot helpers become more prevalent in our lives, they may be used to help drivers and team members move furniture and boxes. Self-driving trucks may be even closer to positively easing the driver shortage.
But in the short-term, with the busy summer moving season just around the corner, NEI is ready to proactively assist you and your relocating families. We will continue to keep clients up to date on this situation and more with team members who are here to help each client actively plan to avoid any issues as they arise.