Identifying proper corporate relocation resources isn’t as easy as it seems… but it’s not impossible.
You’re only a month or two away from your corporate relocation, and it’s already making you sweat. I see it all the time, and I hear it in the voices of those who call… the sheer panic at the magnitude of the situation.
What if the move is a disaster? What if our desks end up in the wrong state or country? What if nothing arrives on time? What if customs proves to be too daunting of a task to overcome? Should we ship by air or ocean?
What if… nothing. goes. wrong. at. all? Maybe, just maybe, there are ways to avoid the headaches and traps that so many fall into when going through a corporate relocation. This is what I deal with every day, and have been for nearly 3 decades, so I think it’s safe to say that I’ve seen it all.
Here are 4 tips for avoiding the complications of this major endeavor:
Let’s start with broad strokes
So, where are you going? Are you packing up HQ and relocating to Australia? His your head office moving to Spain? Or, is it somewhere connected to the US, like Canada or Mexico? The farther we go, the bigger the challenge. And, of course, you probably realize that. If it’s within the same city or State, it’s a relatively painless process, but what about when you have to put a plane or ocean freighter in the mix?
I deal with the bigger more complicated moves, like those requiring auto transport, international logistics services, and ocean container shipping, so that’s where we’ll be spending our time today.
So, what are you taking with you? is it equipment from an office, a floor, or an entire building?
1: Sea or Air
This usually starts with the debate of which is cheaper. But calculating costs isn’t just about what it says at the bottom of your shipping invoice. There are all sorts of things to consider.
~ How big & heavy is your load? Air freight is measured by a calculation that includes both size and weight. The bigger and heavier the load, the less it’s going to make sense putting it on a plane. Ocean freight carriers tend to charge by containers, thinking less about weight, and more about size. No matter which route you take, dissassemble those desks and chairs, and remove as much air from those containers as possible.
~ Now, hold on, what about speed? True, your air freight is going to typically cost more than ocean, but if you’re losing money to lack of productivity because your office is at sea too long, you could be in trouble by going the “cheaper” route, and end up losing more money than you saved. So, pace out the timing for everything.
~ Timing is everything, after all. They aren’t going to hold the plane for your shipment, or the ocean freighter, or much of anything else if you’re running a little behind. It’s your job to ensure you get there when you’re supposed to but also have contingency plans if you don’t. Accidents, delays, and other things will happen that will prevent your shipment from arriving on time. Air recovers from delays much better than sea. So, if timing is critical, the extra cost for air might just give you that little extra insurance you need to sleep better at night.
~ Timing is everything – I already told you that! What happens when your shipment arrives on time, or, knock on wood, EARLY? Well, that’s good, right? Maybe. Is there anybody on the other end of the shipping cycle to receive it, or is it going to sit in warehousing until the deadline arrives? Storage at the airports tends to be quite a bit cheaper than the docks, so consider that as well.
Sea shipping is no doubt the cheapest method between the two if all we’re looking at are the majority of the invoices being issued, but air provides greater flexibility and they’re more reliable. If you’re nimble and can move around the process, sea is probably the way to go. If you’re limited in your ability to deal with set-backs or don’t have operations on the other end of your move to receive your shipments, then perhaps air is the more cost effective.
Believe it or not, but shipping a car by air is possible, but definitely more expensive. You won’t find any major auto transport companies doing it this way for the bigger orders, but if it’s just the owner’s RR, air transport will provide the white-glove, timely service likely preferred.
2: LCL Shipping
You will likely end up with a load that is less than the size of the container. The question is, do you qualify for LCL shipping, and if so, is it the route you want to take?
Remember, ocean freight charges by the container load, and they don’t typically care if it’s full or not, so you’re paying for it either way. A 20′ container (they come in standard 20′ and 40′ sizes) can hold up to 30 cubic meters, so if you’re hovering around the halfway mark or less, LCL shipping might make sense for you.
Of course, don’t forget about air in this situation. Putting these loads in the sky could be the better option, especially given some of the headaches that come with LCL shipping.
~ Remember, timing is everything! These shipments will very likely take longer to arrive. There is a process that they must go through, after all, and we want each of your packages to be accounted for. If timeliness is an issue, air may be your better bet. If not, you could save a little by sticking with LCL.
~ Insurance: You may be spending the same dollar amount on insurance for a half load or a full load. It’s not a huge burden, but something to be considered in your financial calculation. Half a load does not mean half the insurance costs.
~ Additional travel required: We’ll need to set up a vehicle to pick up the short load. SInce there are two recipients, bringing it to the site is probably out of the picture.
3: Packing with Customs in Mind
International cargo carries a series of complex challenges. We’re always dealing with complex trade agreements, international regulations, and, of course, doing our best to ensure the cargo is secure. Getting in touch with your embassy may help answer some of the questions about the furniture and other office supplies being moved across borders and/or overseas.
Manufacturing plants have to think about the chemicals, equipment, and pollutants that they’re bringing in. Yes, you got the deals worked out with your buyer or business partners… even with the local government agencies – but what about customs? They could slow you down for days and cost you siginficant revenue in the process.
Maybe you need a friend in the shipping business. What you’re dealing with is an enormous task, and perhaps the best cost savings will come from having experienced and well networked individuals helping you navigate the process.
Freight forwarders will know how to choose between air & sea options based on your individual situation. They’ll know how to get you through customs, and find the best storage options once your items start arriving on the other side.
Don’t even get me started if you’re dealing with multiple destinations. Freight forwarders and international logistics services will be your saving grace.
I understand why you’re so stressed out about the move. Finding distribution services that work cohesively isn’t easy for folks who don’t face these types of situations every day. Hopefully you gained some more insight to the process with this article. If you need more information, let’s set up a call!