Relocation Insights


A Deep Dive into the Relocation Services RFP Process

Choosing the right partner for relocation and talent mobility rests on each companies’ unique goals and needs. And while it's true that the global relocation services RFP process can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, with the proper preparation, it doesn’t have to be. In addition, with a proven process, you can launch and manage a successful RFP, and end up with a well-matched Relocation Management Company (RMC) partner that will benefit to your program for years to come.

The First Steps to Take for Every Relocation RFP

It’s important to begin the process by asking yourself some very important questions:
  • Why is your organization conducting the RFP?
  • Are you trying to reduce costs, streamline processes, improve service, or simply ensure that your current provider is providing the best service at a reasonable and competitive price?
  • Who is driving the decision to go through this process? Senior Management? Human Resources? Procurement?
  • What is your scope of work or range of relocation services for the RFP, and how might this evolve?
  • What enhancements to your program might be beneficial?
  • What is your budget for this RFP project (time, money, resources)?

The answers to these questions will help you to determine:
  • Internal Stakeholders - It's critical to have buy-in and support of all stakeholders that are involved directly or indirectly with your relocation program.
  • The RFP Scope - Not all relocation service providers will fit your needs and setting your scope will address which RMCs to include in the RFP. Invite only those who have the capabilities to meet your requirements. Do your research! Talk to them. Get to know their culture and competency.
  • Questions - Asking the right questions for the information you need will go a long way in reducing the number of finalists to the best of the best. It also ensures the evaluation committee won’t be influenced by other information, which can lead to mismatched outcomes.
  • Time & Resources - The scope of services being requested, and the number of participants involved in the bid will have a direct impact on the amount of time needed to complete a successful relocation bid process.
  • Targets - You may want to set target dates in advance for response gathering and evaluations to best match your internal needs. For example, you may not want to score your RFPs while in the middle of year-end tax reporting.
  • RFP Budget - While the primary cost driver behind an RFP is directly related to the time and personnel dedicated to the project - there are other factors to consider. For example, travel costs may need to be considered if you intend to perform a site visit.

Host an Internal RFP Kick-Off Meeting

Once you've answered the above questions and gathered your internal stakeholders - it is time to kick off your relocation services RFP project. During the initial meeting, state the objectives and educate the team on your current relocation program’s processes, procedures, costs, and requirements. Include details like technologies used, reporting, billing, relocating employee satisfaction, client contact satisfaction, and relocation services provided. It helps to prioritize each of these items to be certain the evaluation committee understands and agrees to the scope before you start writing your RFP.

Think about the future. You’ve explained your current situation to your team. Now, ask each of them for their input on future company requirements. Do you expect growth in a particular division? Are you in recruiting or acquisition mode? Do you anticipate more international assignments or domestic relocations? Is there a group move on the horizon?

Use your survey data. Your satisfaction surveys will help to guide decisions on what is going well that you want to replicate moving forward, and what parts of the program need adjustment. It’s important at this phase to incorporate a review of policies and exceptions to ensure your scope of work defines best future practices and outcomes. In fact, you can even include policy feedback as part of your RFP process, harvesting suggestions from a range of relocation management companies. This can provide insight into their capabilities and experience.

Narrow Down the Field

Who Should You Invite?

It could be tempting to invite the entire relocation industry to bid on your business. After all, how will you know if you’re getting the best service for the best price if you don’t give everyone an opportunity to bid during your relocation services RFP? Isn’t  to the best approach to invite them all to participate? Well, not exactly.

Not every relocation management company can deliver the same services or is the right fit for your business. While broadening the RFP participant pool can be a good approach, more options can result in information overload and cloud the specific, required criteria discussed upfront.

Ask Around!

Ask reputable, unbiased industry resources for their suggestions and recommendations. Visit the websites of the relocation companies you are considering. Talk to your colleagues in the industry to see who they use and ascertain the pros and cons of their experiences with those providers. And, most importantly, keep an open mind. What worked in the past may not be best for your organization's future.

Use an RFI to Narrow an Industry Down to the A-Team

An excellent way to whittle down the playing field from an entire industry to a handful of players is an RFI or Request for Information. It’s easiest to think of an RFI as a miniaturized RFP. A typical RFI will consist of a dozen critical questions to help you match the right relocation services companies to your needs. Asking high-level questions about their service offering, coverage areas, company finances, number of clients, and expertise in your unique industry are excellent ways to quickly uncover key information on the players in the market.

Based on the answers to your RFI you should have a better feel for the companies you’d like to invite to the next step. For example, if it's important to your organization for your provider to have a single point of contact for your employees versus a call center or AI-enabled routing, then some relocation service providers will not work for your company. Likewise, if customized, flexible service is of paramount importance, it might not be wise to invite the largest players as flexibility becomes more difficult in larger organizations.

Best Practices for a Relocation RFP

Your goals are set and have been communicated. You've researched potential suppliers. Now it's time to prepare the RFP document itself. Make sure you include the following:

Intent to Bid and Confidentiality Agreement

The first step in the process should be to have the participants sign and return an “Intent to Bid” form and a “Confidentiality Agreement.”

Background On Your Organization

Let your participants know about your company's mission and history. Give them as much information as you can to give them a clear picture of your organization's culture.

Information On Your Current Global Mobility Program

The companies participating in your RFP will need to know critical information relating to your relocation program. This includes intel on your annual US domestic relocation volume and annual international assignment volume.

Including the mix of homeowners and renters that are relocated is important to most relocation management companies as many consider real estate a key revenue source.
Describe your current program costs, if possible, such as your total annual spend, a breakdown of your home sale programs, household goods costs, typical assignment lengths, etc.

For global talent mobility services RFPs, it’s important to talk about key worldwide locations or intended locations to ensure coverage is available. It is also helpful to include copies of your current relocation and assignment management policies. If you feel that disclosing your policies is too much information, consider a policy matrix of benefits or a summary of your policies. The Confidentiality Agreement mentioned above is in place to protect the information disclosed in the points above, including policy.

Clearly Define the Scope of Work

For RFP participants to accurately assess the revenue opportunity and projected expenses to deliver service, it's critically important that the scope of work be clearly defined. When participants are pricing their services, they need to understand the time investment of each of its staff members to accurately determine profitability. If the scope of work changes midstream, it could affect your costs.

Explain Your Selection Criteria

Give bidders an understanding of what's most important to you and your team when making this critical decision for a service partner. Providing clear instruction as to how you would like the RFP response to be formatted can also save you time during the evaluation process, as some stakeholders may have specific points of view and interest, and varying degrees of understanding of relocation services. Providing an easy-to-evaluate question set that is aligned with your program objectives helps with scoring and can help communication and buy-in post-selection.

Define The Timeline for the RFP Process

Make it clear that all deadlines must be adhered or participants may be disqualified for consideration. When defining your timeline, be mindful of the time involved in preparing a response. Your business is very valuable to potential providers, and you want to give them enough time to submit a comprehensive and quality response. The better the response, the more indicative of their capabilities, making your selection process go more smoothly.

Provide Time for Supplier Feedback and Questions

Once potential providers have had an opportunity to review your relocation services RFP, it is likely that they will have questions. Consider hosting a conference call to respond to these questions or submit answers to all questions to all bidders to ensure a level playing field. Be certain to indicate that contact with anyone at your organization other than your designated RFP contact person may cause disqualification. Consistency in understanding amongst participants will provide you with the best apples-to-apples comparison.

Include RFP Questions That Will Provide Insight

Revisit your goals and objectives against broader company strategy for your talent mobility RFP process. Develop a list of questions that will net the answers that will help you determine which provider can best help you achieve those objectives. Ask questions directly so responses provide insight into the responding organization’s capabilities, philosophies, company culture, strengths, and weaknesses.

Evaluating Your Relocation RFP Responses

Make sure that each internal stakeholder participates in the relocation RFP evaluation process. Develop an evaluation matrix to ensure that your selection is unbiased. The matrix should include your key selection criteria with assigned weights for each criterion. Often after reviewing each RFP response, the selection team has questions. When developing your timeline, allow time for follow-up questions to suppliers to clarify any issues, and for internal discussion if there is a need to further define objectives.

When making your selection, focus on service providers who can deliver the best solution that stays within your budget. Be sure to consider the total cost of ownership (TCO) for each provider. This includes not only the external supplier costs, but also your organization's infrastructure costs, internal staff costs (including training), and recurring costs of your relocation program. And it is always important to make sure that each vendor provides the associated service agreements and pricing. Some agreements have fees associated with funding, program volumes, and cancellation that vary significantly from others. It’s good to start with transparency.

Narrowing the Choices

You've created your matrix prioritizing areas of importance and assigning a weight to each category. Typically, companies will narrow the choice of providers to invite to present their capabilities in a face-to-face meeting. The number of companies invited will depend on the results of the matrix exercise. You may initially think that inviting three companies will suffice. But, if the results of the matrix indicate that other companies are very close in the scoring, you may want to give them an opportunity to present as well. Sometimes the face-to-face presentations can uncover some key benefits of using a particular organization, or a closer fit culturally.

When scheduling best and final presentations, allow at least 90 minutes. This will allow ample time for the presentation, some open dialogue, and questions and answers. The presentation stage is where you can determine if the provider is a good fit based on personality.

They've already explained their capabilities in the RFP, but the interaction during the presentation will often give you a good feel as to whether you will be able to work with the people involved on a daily basis. It also makes sense to give the presenters an agenda. Let them know what you will be looking for so that your time is well spent.

For example, if you want to see a technology demonstration, let them know. On the other side of the coin, let them know if the time allotted for the presentation is not appropriate for a technology demonstration. By letting the presenting organization know what you're looking for, it is more likely that you will come to a better conclusion at the end of the process.

Selecting the Best

By the time the best and final presentations have been completed, you should have concluded which company will be the best to help you meet your global mobility and relocation program objectives. Communicate the good news to that company with an explanation as to why they were chosen and a guideline on "next steps." Let the implementation begin!

Debriefing the Rest

One of the most difficult parts of the RFP process is communicating results to the companies that were not awarded the business. Realizing that a great deal of time and effort went into the preparation of the response, it is a good business practice to provide a quick (10-minute) debrief session with each of the participants giving them honest feedback on their response and/or presentation. Don't sugarcoat it. Let them know the real reasons they were not chosen to give them an opportunity to improve in certain areas of their businesses.
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