Touring Services Grow as Relocation Strategies Embrace Temporary Assignments

Temporary assignments continue to grow in lieu of permanent employee relocations as companies adjust their talent management strategies to reflect the difficulties employees have selling a home in a sluggish housing market. Companies are deploying employees on strategic initiatives for assignments often lasting 18 months or longer including new market start-ups, facilities expansions, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, disaster recovery and stimulus projects.

CORT, a Berkshire Hathaway company and the only national provider of furniture rental, is supporting the growth in temporary assignments with the most comprehensive suite of relocation services developed specifically for renters. Local market touring services are a cornerstone of the program and connect an area expert with prospective renters to assess their needs and literally drive them into different apartment communities that match those needs. The number of tours is rapidly growing due to the rise in temporary assignments.

"This is not simply an Internet lead or phone reference," said Jeff Rowe, CORT's Vice President of ApartmentSearch.com. "No other company in our industry literally drives relocating employees into apartment communities thousands of times each month, and savvy properties realize these residents are unlikely to be reached by traditional marketing efforts."

The number of tours given by CORT is up by 55 percent so far this year compared to last year, and has more than doubled in recent months, up 109 percent in April and 155 percent in May. CORT is averaging more than 300 tours a month and the average person visits about eight properties on each tour.

This growth is the result of the increasing number of agreements that CORT has with corporations, including the more than 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies that CORT has supported through the years, to help relocating employees find the ideal housing solution in their new community.

Helping employees get settled and focused on their new tasks

CORT's touring services simplify employee relocation for companies and ease the transition for relocating employees and their families. This allows CORT to leverage its core strengths in the rapid deployment and management of rental furniture, rental housing locating and providing destination-area services to empower the world's mobile workforce.

CORT utilizes touring experts that know the area and have relationships with apartments in the community. Local experts save the relocating employee's time and their employer's money by only taking employees to apartment communities that suit their specific housing needs.

Touring experts consider proximity to the employee's job site as well as neighborhood and amenities preferences when conducting community tours. CORT has developed longstanding relationships with apartment communities over the past four decades that allow them to deliver this local expertise to employees working on assignment, or to companies managing temporary assignments for groups of employees.

In addition to finding the right rental home, relocating employees face many challenges in their new location. CORT offers a suite of destination services that help simplify the transition for relocating employees and their families. These services include help with many inconveniences that employees encounter when relocating, such as furnishing their apartment and setting up utility connections. In addition, CORT offers services targeted for relocating international assignees, including English-language classes or assistance obtaining a driver's license and social security card.

One of the biggest expenditures of an assignment is furnished housing, and CORT provides companies and their assignees with an abundance of flexible furnished housing alternatives. Making the right choice between extended stay hotels, corporate housing or rental apartments can potentially save thousands of dollars. For example, the options in New York are very different from those in Boise, Idaho.

CORT recognizes that, depending on the region, the most cost effective choice may differ between renting a house, apartment or corporate housing and can provide solutions regardless of the duration of the assignment. Assignments lasting up to three months will often use corporate apartments. Short-term apartments or rental homes should be considered for stays lasting more than 3 months, which can substantially reduce costs.

CORT has a large geographic footprint with local experts in more than 70 major destination locations across the country.

Simplify project planning

Composite Construction Systems, based in Columbus, GA, traditionally housed employees in extended stay hotels during assignments, which typically last from three to six months and involve around 20 employees.

In response to rising business costs, Chris Icenhour, equipment and operations manager, chose to use CORT's assignment and rental relocation services. After a needs assessment, CORT recommended that Composite Construction consider renting apartments, as opposed to extended-stay hotels, to save on housing expenses. CORT's suite of destination services helped Composite Construction streamline the process of arranging short-term apartment leases, utility hookups and providing furniture and other household items as needed for the duration of a project.

Icenhour works directly with a CORT national representative to arrange housing. First, he provides his representative with the location and general budget guidelines for the project. The relocation team then offers housing recommendations to meet the needs of the company and employees. Icenhour visits the potential locations to make a final decision, at which point the CORT team works to finalize all of the arrangements for the project.

Touring services simplify relocation

Employee relocation remains a key talent management strategy for organizations and often requires employee deployment to locations for an extended period of time. While workforce mobility is required to achieve company goals and complete projects, the rising costs of relocation and the uncertain business environment mean that companies will continue to look toward alternative employee mobility approaches.

CORT recognized the opportunity to create a mutually beneficial relationship between companies and apartment communities through local market touring services. The result? Relocation is simplified for companies and easier for employees.