Issue - July/August 2021
THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE, A COMMUNITY TRANSFORMED
Trust is Stronger than Difficult Times
By Vaibhav Sood, Manager Qatar & Kuwait, ISS Relocations
The last year and a half have been nothing less than the toughest challenge all of us had to face together as world citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic has pressed a “reset” button for all of us to change the way we used to live our day-to-day lives. This is surely an unprecedented event which will never be forgotten for the aftermath it caused globally.
Even after being associated with the moving Industry for more than a decade, I cannot quite fathom the extent of business process flow changes and difficult decision making we have had to witness within our industry since this pandemic began. The world was not ready to face this—none of us had a business continuity plan in place for an event like this, not to mention the numerous challenges and difficulties we had to face. However, time is a great healer and with passing time, we learn and move forward.
Without doubt, the top priority during the pandemic was the well-being and safety of our employees and clients. ISS had to minimize physical contact and went fully virtual for business meetings with associates, clients, and vendors. When securing an outbound booking, we suggested to our clients the option to check into a hotel for the duration of the pack and load period just to limit their contact with the team and ensure their travel plans do not get affected for any unforeseen reasons linked to the move.
We also made sure our clients had virtual access to the pack site where our team leader was making a video call to them every 2-3 hours to show the progress taking place. This gave immense comfort to our clients to stay safe; they were only requested to visit the pack site on the day of loading to witness this process from a distance and sign the post upliftment forms only in presence of the team leader and no one else.
For local payments, online banking was in demand whereas cash and checks were not accepted for a few months due to a high risk of the virus spreading through the currency and checks. This was a positive change which helped the finance department focus on other tasks, rather than counting bills and arranging delivery to the bank.
During the peak pandemic, the majority of the ISS office-based employees were asked to follow the work-from-home policy as per government directives, which helped mitigate the possibility of contact with the outside world to a great extent. This in turn helped achieve the desired result of the CS and BD team to work from the comfort of their homes. This especially benefits working mothers who perhaps must spend a lot of money on day care.
Of course, thermometers, face masks and sanitizers became our best buddies. We never thought that these items would be tagging along with us wherever we go to the extent that they were on our bedside and dining table as well.
Financially, a lot of constraints were placed on moving firms and with Covid cases rising, I am sure every company could feel the pain of having to work with limited staff, limited resources, and limited moving queries—all this with maximum government restrictions, and don’t forget the freight prices which have shot through the roof.
Recovery of funds was another serious task. Well-known moving firms were getting liquidated and filing for bankruptcy, which was very distressing to hear. Payment chaser alerts skyrocketed, and firms which had done business together for years started to have trust issues. However, there were a fair number of partners and vendors who were understanding enough to extend credit terms based on their existing relationships, which immensely helped the companies to somehow manage the show till the markets started to positively react and payments started to flow in.
The last five to six months have shown improvements, and we can see the graph rising as global markets open for further travel with every country having its own travel policy to follow. With the extensive vaccination drive in full swing in the majority of the countries, we expect the moving industry to come back stronger and better-prepared than before, but with a few critical changes as this is now the new normal moving forward.