By Diana Howard
Relocation departments within real estate companies provide important roles as suppliers of real estate services and advocates for relocation management companies (RMCs). As a single point of contact, they support third-party companies by providing valuable real estate information and services to transferring employees. To provide the highest level of service, a department must be well equipped to handle a variety of incoming assignments and be knowledgeable about local market changes and industry practices.
Whether a brokerage has a large relocation department or a small team, coordinating incoming assignments with trained real estate associates takes knowledge and expertise of the referral process. In today’s market, it’s difficult to predict how much business will be provided by an RMC, but their requirements and expectations are the same; they expect a department to have a system in place for managing assignments, and to have the right talent in place to fulfill their service needs.
THREE DISTINCT ROLES
There are three distinct roles within a relocation department that help ensure a smooth operation and process flow; the role of the relocation director, the department coordinator and the sales associate in the field. Working together, they provide quality service to the customer and to the corporate client. To encourage strong relationships and form new partnerships, the broker relies on the performance of its relocation team to help lead them to success. The roles and responsibilities defined in a brokerage environment are:
- Relocation Director – Directs and oversees an organization’s relocation accounts and activities. Performs a variety of tasks including leading and directing the work flow of coordinators and real estate associates to assure compliance with all relocation requirements.
- Relocation Coordinator – Accepts, processes and tracks all incoming assignments. Maintains communication with all parties (i.e. buyer, seller, agent and corporate counselor) involved in a sales transaction. Understands the profile of all real estate associates who are relocation-trained to be able to properly match the assigned lead to the most qualified agent.
- Real Estate Sales Associate – Has a clear understanding of the market conditions, economics, median prices and community information for local market areas. Has good communication skills, an overall understanding of the transferee needs, as well as the requirements of the third-party client. Real estate associates must seek to provide a ‘wow’ customer experience.
Each role is clearly defined, but depending on the size of some brokerages, a staff member may have more or less responsibilities. For example, a relocation director may be responsible for accepting and placing assignments in addition to overseeing the department. Or they may only be responsible for business development, reviewing contracts and creating operational guidelines, and may have the assistance of a department manager to oversee daily assignments. In either case, providing the best internal system for success requires dedication, and buy in from the entire team.
Relocation directors who meet with their department coordinators on a regular basis to address daily challenges have the opportunity to implement systems that keep their staff engaged in the tasks at hand. At the same time establishing parameters for training and setting expectations for the real estate sales associate is a must. Supporting his or her efforts in providing exceptional service assures that everyone is working toward the same result.
Relocation coordinators, who receive assignments directly from a corporate client, rather than from their relocation director, understand the importance in processing assignments within specific guidelines. All third party companies are not the same; knowing their individual requirements and timeframes is essential. However, there are enough similarities in guidelines to allow coordinators to implement general guidelines that can be followed with each assignment. This usually means that for each assignment, coordinators will conduct a customer needs assessment and provide this information along with specific client requirements to the assigned sales associate.
The relocation coordinator’s role is to effectively communicate with those involved in a corporate move. Their responsibility is to make sure that the relocation counselor is informed and continuously updated regarding all details of the transfer. This communication is essential to help avoid any surprises that may arise, or to address any issues that start developing during the transaction process.
Include coordinators in the training process for sales associates. Since they interact with sales associates during the assignment process, getting to know each sales associate supports proper placement. In addition, coordinators are responsible for reviewing service results; including, the number of assignments given, an associate’s conversion rate, survey results and overall presentation in their websites.
Sales associates are the heart and pulse of a successful relocation department. Aside from the typical associate comments of wanting more referral business, or not wanting to complete multiple training programs, most sales associates who join relocation teams understand the mindset that is required to handle the needs of relocating families. In fact, some relocation-trained associates were once transferees or may have worked in the mobility industry. Associates that subscribe to this mindset pride themselves on providing exceptional service and most embrace additional training to hone their skills.
Although several third-party companies require their network brokers to complete specific training programs through their certification process, most relocation departments maintain their own training program to set forth standards and expectations for their sales associates. Relocation directors take corporate requirements and expand them to include specific items that reflect their company policies and culture, such as:
In addition to meeting relocation standard requirements, being a good listener and being resourceful goes a long way in providing exceptional service in meeting the expectations of the customer and client.
IT ALL HAPPENS HERE
Relocation departments serve as a central point of contact that is accountable to their broker and to their clients. They handle hundreds or thousands of assignments each year and utilize all resources available to them. They are charged with group move presentations; pre-decision assignments, outside broker and rental assignments; and sometimes reassignments upon special request. You name it, it happens in a relocation department. Their key to success is the effort and performance of everyone involved in the relocation department, working as a team to give exceptional service. The results can lead to additional referral opportunities, repeat business and stronger partnerships.