As a leader in corporate relocation, Atlas® Van Lines has always been robust with corporate clients. But as the industry landscape continues to shift, the need to increase its private client and U.S. military market share became a primary focus for the van line. So, Atlas®—realizing it would need subject matter experts in those areas who understood industry trends and best practices—came up with a solution: Create product line manager roles for each.
“The product management roles provide a focused approach to our core product lines and support the Agents handling them,” says Government/Military/409 Product Manager Brad Beyer. “Having this expert focus allows Atlas to respond quicker to industry changes by providing our Agent network with the information and support they need to be successful.”
Since the implementation of the three new product manager roles—private client, corporate client, and government/military/409—the results and collaboration have been positive.
“The structure has been a first for us because, prior to these roles, you had one product line doing things in their own silo. By introducing this new process, we’ve discovered some incredible efficiencies and have greater alignment as an overarching team,” says Kathy Thompson, Corporate Client Product Manager/Senior Director, Contracts and Pricing.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU KNOW
For Beyer, whose grandfather was an Air Force mechanic, our service members’ needs are a high priority as he provides Agents with the knowledge, tools, and infrastructure to be able to successfully handle GSA and military DP3 shipments. This will become especially relevant as Atlas® competes for the Global Household Goods Contract (GHC)— a win he is optimistic about.
“I’m excited about our bid for the GHC contract, and I believe Team ARC brings technology and solutions that haven’t previously existed in this space, giving us a competitive advantage,” says Beyer.
Technology is something Private Client Product Manager Tiffany Eades is also excited about for her clients and Atlas salespeople, especially with Atlas’ keen focus on web-based tools for Agent teams and the emerging “digital customer.”
“Customers are more educated these days and will shop around for the easiest choice with the best technology,” says Eades. “From a sales perspective, the sales teams are no longer tied to six to eight appointments a week spread out to account for travel time. Now they can do that many appointments in a day, so it really does increase the odds of winning more private client business.”
Eades attributes her readiness for the private client role as much to her diverse work history since leaving Atlas in 2005 as she does to everything she learned while working for Atlas the first time around.
For Thompson, her 40+ years at Atlas have also given her a unique perspective after working in various departments and learning the business from many sides. While Thompson worked in rating and distribution for a time, her department lead helped her understand tariffs, which she says has been the most invaluable lesson.
“Tariffs and contracts is such a big portion of the corporate client marketplace that it seemed like a natural segue for me to move into this role,” Thompson says.
Thompson’s involvement in the Pricing Reset initiative and knowledge of process makes her a useful resource for corporate client sales—something she’s excited to dig into.
“Atlas is a leader in corporate relocation, but we don’t have it tied up in a neat bow. There’s room for evolution,” Thompson says. “I think with some good old-fashioned knocking on doors and picking up the phone, we could bring in new business. My job will be to encourage and equip our sales force to do that.”
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Outside these lines, Atlas® World Group subsidiaries Avail Move Management® and Atlas® World-Class Travel also provide support to Agents, clients, and the product managers at the van line.
Jessica Nichols, Director of Avail Move Management, aids and advises the Atlas® network through transportation and relocation solutions that touch every product line. And as the Director of Pricing for Atlas, she’s able to collaborate frequently with the product line managers.
On the private client side is Avail’s private-label customer service program, which helps Agents who are looking to grow business and need professional customer service support. The customizable program can fit into any agency’s culture and is done under the guise of the agency so it feels like a seamless experience, with one touchpoint for transferees.
“The Agents love it because it feels we are truly an extension of their brand and culture rather than a completely separate entity,” says Nichols. “I look forward to showing them the amazing places we can go and helping them get there.”
For Jennifer Butler, Manager of Atlas World-Class Travel, the corporate connection is strong as well.
“Over 95% of what we do is corporate and relocation travel,” says Butler. "Our ultimate goal is to make things as easy as possible for all of our clients so they have someone to call when things aren’t going well or things change—as they have exponentially over the past year.”
PRESENT CHALLENGES = FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES
While COVID-19 skewed much of 2020, a positive Q4 gave the product line managers hope. Armed with the lessons each learned as they pivoted and adapted to changing landscapes, their plans to move ahead formed.
For Thompson, she’s set her sights on improving corporate client sales. Another Q1 initiative is to rethink the “lump sum” corporate customer contracts.
“We're exploring how to build everything under one contract with the same pricing. We're also thinking about leveraging the benefits of our Movr™ tool for transferees moving under those lump sum contracts for the first time to make Atlas® the one-stop shop,” says Thompson.
Beyer says he will continue to support the current military and GSA programs while helping Agents who want to grow in that space as well as forging ahead in the GHC initiative with Team ARC.
“I’ll strive to increase Atlas’ footprint in the military and GSA market sectors because these lines traditionally maintain consistent volumes during swings in the marketplace,” says Beyer. “That makes government traffic a great way to diversify.”
While she recognizes the promising trends in private client business, Eades also sees the challenges—but is ready to meet them.
“I always say that any time I see a challenge, I see an opportunity. And right now, Atlas has a great opportunity to grab a bigger part of the private client market share because people are still moving—something our migration study confirms,” says Eades.
Nichols shares Eades’ excitement, saying, “Avail Move Management® is excited to grow private clients through our customer service program and by working with Tiffany. The entire Avail team is on board with the direction we are heading and is excited for the opportunities this will bring for our team and clients.”
For Atlas® World-Class Travel, Butler is diversifying with meeting and event planning. It currently handles events for Atlas® World Group and Agents, so the extension seemed a natural fit.
“We think people are excited to eventually come back together for in-person events, and we’re ready to take our expertise and knowledge to our clients. When they’re ready to start gathering again, we’ll help them make it
happen,” says Butler.
For 2021 and beyond, Butler succinctly echoes the group sentiment: “I’m excited to start the road to recovery. The pandemic has been a long-term challenge for our industry, but I look forward to connecting with clients again and seeing the volume we saw before. I’m hopeful for whatever the new normal will be and what challenges it brings that we can conquer as a team.”
To learn more about Atlas® World-Class Travel, visit www.atlasworldclasstravel.com.
To learn more about Avail Move Management®, visit www.availmm.com.