In the Spotlight: Household Good Trends

Household goods shipments are a key component of U.S. and Canadian domestic and cross-border relocations. The Household Goods Industry and trucking companies face several challenges that are reshaping the industry. Dan Mack, VP of Transportation Services, Supply Chain Management, discusses how BGRS is responding to these challenges In the Spotlight.

Tell us about some of the current trends that are impacting the household goods shipment industry.

Dan Mack: While there are several key trends affecting the industry, the primary challenge is that there’s a generally acknowledged shortage of drivers for household goods shipments. In fact, the American Trucking Association estimates the industry is short some 50,000 drivers, and projects that number could more than double over the next five to seven years.

That’s a big shortage! Can you share your insight into what’s causing this shift?

Dan: While many factors are impacting the overall trucking industry, the household goods sector of the industry has been particularly challenged attracting new professional van operators into the industry. This is not only due to the physically demanding nature of the job, but also due to the long hours on the road away from home. Many believe it is as much a lifestyle issue as any other contributing factors. Another factor that has had an impact on overall capacity has been increased government regulations. Since 2017, drivers are required to maintain electronic logging devices (ELD’s) to monitor federally mandated hours of service requirements. These regulations restrict the number of hours a driver can work in a given day and carry strict penalties for non-compliance. The industry estimates the impact from the hours of service regulations has reduced overall capacity by up to one and a half weeks per professional van operator, further straining capacity and their ability to meet peak season moving demands.

All of these changes have the potential to impact performance, and BGRS has worked closely with our suppliers to ensure alignment with the capacity needs of our clients to meet the challenges of peak season.

What can companies expect over the next several months during what is typically the heaviest household goods shipment season?

With a strong economy and the fact that 50% of all moves occur throughout the four months of May through August, the industry will continue to be challenged to keep up with the demand for their services, especially during the last weeks of each month. Providing as much lead time as possible is very important to securing preferential dates during the busy summer moving season.

In what other ways is the industry changing?

Dan: We are seeing an impact from changing move demographics. Over the past decade, the industry has seen average shipment weights decrease by 15% with a corresponding increase in shorter notice and shorter transit time moves. Customer expectations for faster, more efficient service have never been higher. Firms that embrace these challenges and respond with creative services and technology to further improve the customer experience will continue to grow and be successful.

How is BGRS meeting these challenges?

Dan: With the rate of change in the moving services industry, it will be essential for RMC’s and direct service providers to keep their eyes on the trends and work intensively with clients and suppliers to stay ahead of them. BGRS has an advantage in that we are completely independent from our supply chain, so we are not reliant on owned operations to deliver services. This enables us to identify and partner with the best-of-the-best and forge relationships that truly benefit our clients. As a result, we provide globally integrated, tailored solutions that drive innovation.

We’ve already introduced a few initiatives, including a Discard & Donate Service which enhances the employee experience by providing mobile employees and their families the opportunity to sell or donate items they no longer need or want prior to their move. First, professionals work with employees to organize their belongings, sorting items for donation, consignment, recycling or disposal. The organizer will also coordinate logistics for removing these items from the home. It also saves employees’ time and energy at their new residence because they don’t have to unpack and sort through items in their new home that they really no longer want or need. Clients’ programs see cost savings by reducing the size of their household goods shipment as well as their overall carbon footprint.

We have also launched a Containerization Program for moves in the U.S. and cross boarder to/from Canada. This program provides customers with several key benefits, such as faster transit times of five to ten days and fewer claims because goods are safely packed in secure containers and are not double handled in the event storage is required. Customers can also opt to have their survey conducted virtually via an app that can be scheduled at their convenience and has proven just as accurate as an in-home survey by a professional mover. This program has also yielded savings for our clients through lower direct costs; 30-days of free storage and lower interim living expenses due to faster transit times and has improved the overall customer experience.

What do you see for the future?

Dan: I think it’s safe to say the pace of change will continue at an ever increasing rate. I believe containerized shipping programs will continue to grow and become the “new normal” for our industry. I also believe the current Professional Van Operator model will become a premium service delivery option offered for VIP level service and larger household moves. It will be also be interesting to see how technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics and autonomous vehicles (driverless trucks) will impact the Industry and drive positive change. In the interim, it will be imperative for mobility companies and their suppliers to partner creatively to stay ahead of the trends.