Issue - May/June 2022

U.S. DOMESTIC, MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT

Getting Ahead Means Staying On Top

By Christopher Lantz, Senior Vice President of Operations, Bekins Moving Solutions, Inc.

The challenges in moving for the DoD and the U.S. government come in many shapes and sizes. To start with, I would say one of the main things that brings tremendous instability to this program is the allowed rates to be filed in the non-peak. We understand that that supply and demand happens and diversification in markets are important. What we are seeing now, though, due to the volume driven program truly based off pricing (30% Pricing, 70% CSS scores), is that this model creates hardship in military-only markets; i.e., Fort Bragg, Carlisle Barracks, and Norfolk.


In these areas, we must try to hire, train, and implement new practices by almost tripling our crew sizes a week or so before peak season kicks off on May 15. It’s hard to maintain consistency and quality when you work under a hire-and-fire mentality. For three months, you don’t have enough guys for the work—then, for the other nine months, you need to trim out as much as possible because the margins aren’t available to do anything extra without putting your company in a possible “in the red” financial scenario. 


As a service provider, you really need to stay on top of any changing regulations and requirements. Many military move management companies do a great job of summarizing the changes any time USTC releases a new policy or an update on an established policy. It also helps to participate in the IAM Military-focused webcasts, which provide a great deal of clarity on any updates, and you can also participate in real time in those calls if you need further clarity—which is always encouraged and extremely helpful. 


I feel like the million-dollar question for every boots-on-the-ground service provider is, how do you expect business to change for your company under the Global Household Goods Contract (GHC)? At this point in time, Bekins Moving Solutions is just focusing on the now and getting better every chance we can get. Another thing I think is smart to do is to look into diversifying your business. There are many additional avenues out there that moving and storage companies can easily get started in.


Opportunities to diversify your capabilities should always be considered, regardless of the upcoming GHC, as a balanced work portfolio helps your business—when one side struggles, you have something else that could hopefully pick it up. One of the biggest questions about GHC is the money to the curb and what it will look like. For instance, you have a two-year-old bid and a lot has changed since then. That leaves you wondering, will the industry go backwards in pricing which will cripple agents and decrease capacity even further? Or will the GHC winner be proactive and get that corrected and brought up to current times? That’s the biggest question I think all of industry is waiting to see. Time will tell, I suppose. 


With military being a big part of our business, Electronic Inventories is also a hot topic. We are embracing it 100% though, because we feel it may help the cause. Especially in the military program, claims create major issues and can put companies out of business. If used properly, the Electronic Inventories can help companies and drivers protect themselves against claims that could have been decided on with a simple picture and legible conditions at origin.


This industry takes a beating on claims; no matter how much training, protection, or pre-move conditions noted, it always seems as if some members find a way to get a check at the end of the move. What people don’t realize is the domino effect that claims create, especially for small business with increases in insurance premiums as one example. Another great training tool to keep updated on this topic is following the IAM 

Domestic Asset-Based (DAB) Mover hours on these updates. They have held two informational webcasts on Electronic Inventories which were extremely educational from all sides. I think the one featuring the drivers was the best because we got to hear from those who use it day-in and day-out, and the benefits they saw using Electronic Inventories.


I would say the most rewarding aspect of moving DoD and government clients and their families is that it’s about giving back to those who are serving in this difficult capacity. Many may not realize it, but this industry bleeds for the people that they move, especially when it comes to military. A majority of those invested in this program take pride in having the responsibility of moving the great men and women who serve their country. It’s always an honor when you move for a member who can share cool stories or experience when on a job; it brings home the fact they love their country and want to fight for our freedom.