Making a Move
- By Bob Papuga
- February 1st, 2006
Colleges and universities invest millions in high-value items, such as computers, art, media equipment and athletic equipment. They also have a significant investment in confidential records and documents.
Safeguarding those investments during relocation and storage requires professionals with the knowledge, skills and tools to carefully handle those items. The relocation industry provides specialized resources that minimize the institution’s risk and simplify the process.
Relocation experts recommend five top criteria to consider when selecting a moving company.
1. Look for a Certified or Approved Vendor
Select a vendor who has earned certification from an organization, such as the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) or the Education & Institutional Cooperative Service, Inc. (E&I), or is well ranked in business reliability reports with the Better Business Bureau.
The AMSA’s Certified Mover Program designates professional movers who have agreed to follow an industry code of conduct by performing quality moves and responding to customer complaints in a timely and ethical manner. The program is made up of movers who have voluntarily agreed to participate by committing to provide their customers with efficient and reliable goods transportation and storage, a professional level of service, and prompt complaint handling and dispute resolution (arbitration).
E&I is a buying cooperative for higher education that has established stringent criteria for various vendors, including movers. A moving company with E&I approval has submitted full documentation of its qualifications to provide the services. To maintain E&I approval, moving companies must maintain the highest standards and continually report to E&I the ratings on completed moves.
Hiring a pre-qualified or certified vendor provides peace of mind and cost-saving initiatives with bulk-pricing discounts (which may vary among vendors). In addition, the qualifications required for approval become even more vital if more than one moving company will be involved.
If an approved or certified vendor is not available, ask the moving company you’ve selected to provide information that offers assurance that these same criteria are met.
2. Expertise With University Commodities
Special commodities in colleges and universities require movers who are experienced in complex moves. Libraries, labs and other areas with high-value equipment require specialized care and handling by competent movers. It is also crucial to have qualified movers who understand the sensitive nature of handling confidential records and documents, both during the move and for safe storage.
Industry professionals strive to become consulting partners with the college or university that has contracted for their services. They provide expertise and advice to plan a strategic move that considers the scope of work and logistics specific to the client. This guidance ultimately results in a quality and cost-effective move.
3. Commercial Warehousing Facility Near Campus
A qualified moving company can provide a secure warehouse facility for its clients’ storage needs, short- and long-term. It is critical that the facility be equipped with operational fire protection systems, be climate-controlled and use a software management system for inventory control.
University office equipment, excess library books, art, etc., may require storage space. It is expensive and time-consuming to find, rent and manage warehouse space for these items. Using a third party frees up the institution’s human resources to work on other responsibilities.
When colleges or universities use an outside vendor to manage inventory in a secure warehouse facility, they pay for space only when they need to use it, which moves the cost from a fixed expense to a variable expense. Cost-saving initiatives like this are integral to the services a qualified moving company provides.
4. Branches or Strong Network Across the Country
When colleges or universities recruit professors and researchers, ease of relocation can be a consideration for the individual and his or her family. An institution that offers a seamless and effortless move as part of the recruitment package may have an edge in successful recruiting.
To do this, colleges and universities need a moving company with an extensive nationwide network within its own company or with other qualified subcontractors that assist outside the company’s service area(s).
5. Financial Stability, Size and Service Infrastructure
Entrusting valuable items to a moving company involves a certain level of risk. Items lost or damaged during the move can result in claims against the moving company. Working with a company that is proven to be financially strong reduces the risk to the client.
Financial strength also enables a moving company to invest in specific equipment — dollies, Tyga boxes, panel carts, lift gate trailers and climate-controlled storage — to meet the needs of special relocation projects. Financially sound vendors with a global network, capable of implementing new technological advances to further enhance the client-supplier relationship, are best suited to meet the client’s needs.
It’s also important to evaluate the size and service structure of the moving company. Depending on the institution’s needs, a one-source solution for all transportation, relocation, warehousing and logistics needs may be important.
Colleges and universities need to take time during procurement to fully evaluate potential vendors. In the long run, that time investment will add protection to valued assets. The five points outlined here provide a solid evaluation model.
1. Seek a vendor that is pre-qualified, or evaluate a vendor based on the certification or qualification criteria.
2. Be certain the company has experience and expertise with colleges/universities.
3. Look for commercial warehousing facilities near the campus.
4. It is often important that a moving company has an expansive network equipped to handle cross-country moves as easily and adequately as cross-town moves.
5. Financial stability reduces risk to the client during the move and storage.
During the procurement process, take time to assess the communication skills, manpower and resources of the moving company. The best moving company will be able to meet all the needs of the university or college and to exceed them.
Bob Papuga is the regional vice president of Commercial Services for Suddath Relocation Systems. Suddath Relocation Systems, a subsidiary of The Suddath Companies, provides corporate relocation, household goods transportation, facility moving, warehousing and logistics services to businesses and consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.suddathrelocation.com.