Issue - May/June 2022

U.S. DOMESTIC, MILITARY AND GOVERNMENT

“Corona—Like the Beer, Not the Virus!”

By Sandra Clary, Director of Business Development, Enterprise Database Corporation (EDC)

“Hi, my name is Richard Corona—like the beer, not the virus.”


If you’ve recently been introduced to Richard Corona, EDC’s CEO, you might have heard him make this semi-jesting distinction of his last name. Though having one’s name hijacked by a global pandemic isn’t the most earth-shattering impact of these pandemic years, for EDC’s cofounders, Diana and Richard Corona, even their name brings a reminder of how much has changed since early 2020, when COVID-19 (aka the Coronavirus) first came to widespread public attention. What was initially thought might be a short-term time-out from the norm became an intensive reset that has now impacted the way business is and will be done going forward.


In addition to the very real impacts in supply chain, materials sourcing, cost factors, and transportation flow, I think of the following as I observe the impacts, trends, and lessons of this pandemic era:


Accelerated Tech Adoption


Trend: The adoption of new or updated technologies and tools that digitize workflows and connect customers and team members might have previously seemed to be things that could be looked into “one day,” but suddenly became immediately necessary in order to conduct business under the new norm and changing expectations.


Lesson: As an expert in moving and storage, you benefit from the expertise and help of a great tech partner and software in order to strategically respond to changes in the industry and in customer and client needs. The right partner helps to cut through the plethora of options to zero in on what is needed and how to quickly bring the benefit without redundancy or complication to your hardworking team.


Customer Expectations of Connectivity, Virtual Capabilities, and Data Exchange


Trend: Though, by definition, the moving and storage industry involves in-person services, shippers came to expect options that minimized direct contact where possible. They also expected that service and support be quickly responsive, even if remote, and take advantage of tech that connects information provided with information needed, whether for forms, in answering questions, or in communicating next steps and recommendations.


Lesson: Virtual surveys were and continue to be a needed service option, but it’s not enough to be virtual; it must accurately capture the information needed in order for movers to accurately estimate time, resources and revenue projections. Digital inventories are also being required by accounts (e.g., DOS, and soon DoD) and preferred by shippers. The right digital inventory software needs to be intuitive and easy to use, as well as integrated with shipment partners and next needs, such as storage, delivery, forms, claims, etc. Shipper expectations also require that movers have a system that notifies them immediately of new communications received from shippers and gives a consolidated view of all communications and other shipment details in order to respond efficiently. If you’re unaware of new requests or have to spend time searching for information, it’s costing you time and customer satisfaction, which eventually costs you business.


Remote and Decentralized Workforces


Trend: Even within essential services sectors, some team members developed a need for flexibility in work locations and schedules due to lockdowns at schools and daycares, health factors, and other considerations. Additionally, those who were still reporting to an office needed lesser-contact options for getting the job done as part of the employers’ duty of care and commitment to creating safe and stable working environments. These teams needed to communicate well and often needed to provide critical information without being required to be in the same room or handling paper files that could not be accessed by remote team members.


Lesson: Movers need a secure, integrated system that gives the right people the right access to everything they need to perform their duties and meet account requirements, whether in an office, working from home, or on the road. Desktop as well as mobile apps are key in being able to transfer trip tickets, files, forms for signature, quotes, inventories, reminders, etc. If team members aren’t in the same place physically, they can still be in the same place virtually with well-designed tech. Having the right tech solutions in place also expands the hiring strength for companies that want to attract and retain the best talent, regardless of location. In responding to COVID impacts, we demonstrated that teams can be on the same page, even when not in the same location.


Ready Access to Content / Zoom


Trend: I don’t know about you, but before COVID-19 kept us all apart, I was rarely on video calls, other than global client presentations. Through lockdowns and limited travel, it became the norm to connect online using video tech. Additionally, more and more companies made great training content and collaborative sessions available online.


Lesson: Employee enrichment and training, as well as customer engagement, can benefit from this new familiarity and ease in connecting via video when face-to-face isn’t practical. Conducting trial video calls internally to familiarize your team with best presentation methods and quick readiness for online sessions will open doors for more engaging customer and client support in between travel opportunities. It also expands the number of team members who can engage with enrichment content, as well as customers for professional and personalized assistance. Though travel is generally opening, it’s important to be ready for your close-up!


More than two years into these impacts, we see that along with the challenges are many great advancements that help us manage our business and seek to attract new customers and clients. Great technology and a great tech partner enable you to do more, do it better, and eliminate inefficiencies that divert resources.


And finally, one of the most significant impacts of this pandemic era is the reinvigorated appreciation for connecting with one another and the joy in seeing one another in person, whenever able. Whether at an IAM Annual Meeting, regional conferences, local mixers, or spontaneous gatherings, we don’t take for granted the ability to connect face-to-face, and it’s my hope that this is a lasting impact for us all—personally and professionally.


With these great lessons from the past two-plus years—tech adoption and partnership, connectivity, integration, flexibility, and gratitude—we’ve got this!