Atlas Amplifier — Summer 2004
|Atlas is pleased to again present findings from
its annual survey of corporate relocation professionals. This is the second year the
study was conducted using the Internet, whereby respondents were invited via e-mail
to participate. A total of 340 online questionnaires were completed between January
30 and February 29. In order to qualify for the survey, a respondent must: 1) have
relocation responsibility, and 2) work for a company that has either relocated employees
within the past two years or plans to relocate employees this year.
• Most respondents (74%) work in human resources or personnel departments for
• Over half (53%) of the companies surveyed this year are international firms.
Based on the number of employees, the sizes of participating firms are similar to last year. However, there was a slight decrease in the number of firms employing both less than 500 salaried workers and 5000 or more such workers, coupled with a corresponding increase in mid-size (medium) firms (500 to 4,999 salaried employees). Forty-two percent of the companies surveyed employ less than 500 salaried workers, a third have 500-4,999 such employees, and one-quarter employ 5,000 or more.
This year, when asked about anticipated changes in their company's relocation volume and relocation budgets, some companies indicate change may be on the way. One-third of firms expect the number of relocations to increase in 2004, which is significantly above last year's 13% of respondents who expected an increase in 2003. Also, 29% of respondents expect relocation budgets to increase in the coming year, a significant increase over the 15% who thought so last year. Expected increases in both relocation volume and budgets appear across the board for all size firms, although more large firms than medium or small firms expect such increases.
While similar percentages of firms this year expect relocation volume and budgets to remain the same, the percentage of firms that expect a decrease in these areas has dropped significantly. Only 16% expect a decrease in relocation volume, significantly lower than last year's 29%. Correspondingly, only 18% expect relocation budgets to be lower this year than last, down significantly from the 28% of firms who last year expected decreases. This lowered expectation also cuts across company size.
Over 80% of respondents indicate at least one external factor had a significant impact on
the number of employee relocations in 2003. Overall, "economic conditions" reclaimed
the top spot, cited by 51% of respondents, which is up from 46% last year, but still far below
the 77% reported in the 2002 survey. "Lack of qualified people locally," last year's
most reported factor, was indicated by only 37% of firms, down from last year's 47% but still
above the 2002 survey figure of 21%. However, as last year, differences appear by company size
on the impact of these two factors. By far, large
companies indicate "economic conditions" as the external issue with significant impact (70% vs. 41% of small companies), while small companies still indicate the "lack of qualified people locally" is their most important issue (47% vs. 23% of large companies). Last year medium firms weighed these two issues almost equally (44% vs. 45%, respectively), but this year differed in their rating of the factors. Forty-nine percent indicate "economic conditions" as the main external factor, significantly more than the 36% who indicate that "lack of qualified people locally" was a main external issue impacting relocations.
Similar to last year, a myriad of internal factors affected company relocations. Overall, the top was "growth of company" (46%), followed by "corporate reorganization" (34%) and "promotions/resignations" (34%). However, based on company size, these factors appear to have carried more or less impact. Large companies indicated "corporate reorganization" (52%) and "budget constraints" (44%) were the top issues for them in 2003, for medium companies "growth of company" (50%) and "promotions/resignations" (43%) were of primary concern, and for small companies the "growth of company" (46%) was the highest internal factor reported in relocations. The percent of large firms who cited "corporate reorganization" (52%) was much higher than the 25% of small companies who saw it as an issue and medium companies were more likely than small companies to indicate "promotions/resignations" (43% vs. 28%). "Budget constraints" appears on the list of significantly more large companies (44%) than small (22%) or medium companies (33%), and "growth of company" is the third-highest internal factor for large companies (40%) while it tops the list for both small (46%) and medium (50%) companies for 2003. Additionally, large companies were more likely to indicate they were affected by the internal factors of "closing of facility" and "acquisitions/mergers" than small companies (although less so than in 2002).
Sixty-six percent of companies indicate they outsourced relocation services during 2003, up slightly from the 61% of companies that outsourced in 2002. As in 2002, the most popular outsourced service in 2003 overall was "real estate sales/purchase" (52%), followed by the contracting of a household goods moving company (40%), arrangement of the family's transportation and accommodations (36%), and counseling about the planning and details of moving (34%). Additionally, while increasing just slightly over last year, small companies (41%) are still much less likely to outsource relocation services than medium (79%) and large (88%) firms. Medium and large companies continue to report outsourcing a greater variety of their relocation services than small companies.
"Service" is still the most important attribute among corporate decision-makers when evaluating or selecting a carrier (nearly 9 out of 10 respondents rated this "critically important," or a "9" or "10" on a 10-point scale, excluding "don't knows"). "Reputation" and "Price" follow in importance with 59% and 58% of respondents indicating they are "critically important" when selecting a carrier, and "Price" garnered 62% of respondents indicating it as "critically important" when evaluating a carrier (behind "On-time delivery" (82%) and "Employee feedback" (73%)). For international moves, "Service" was also of chief importance among decision-makers when selecting a carrier (91% rate it "critically important"), while 59% of respondents indicate "Price" as "critically important" for international carriers (behind "Scheduling" (73%), Reputation (66%)).
Fifty-one percent of respondents say that they sometimes transfer employees between countries (78% of large companies, 60% of medium, and 27% of small). Of these, 70% indicate they outsourced an international relocation service. The top outsourced international services were the contract of a household goods moving company for international shipping (48%), securing rental property at the international location (43%), and destination services/orientation tours at the new location (41%). Of those companies who outsource relocations domestically, 82% indicate they do so internationally. Some companies (26%) who do not outsource domestically indicate they do outsource relocation services internationally. In addition, differences in outsourcing domestically carried over to the international side by company size, as small companies (38%) are much less likely to outsource international relocation services than medium (73%) and large (85%) firms, and medium and large companies report outsourcing a greater variety of their international relocation services than small companies.