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Blurred lines

May 18, 2015
After 50 years in the moving business, Crown Relocations in the UK is blurring the lines between corporate and migrant service. Steve Jordan talked to John Morris to find out how.

John Morris is the National Sales Manager for UK and Ireland for Crown Relocations.  Since the company bought Scotpac around 25 years ago it has been a significant force in the migrant trade.  But with more companies providing their assignees with allowances, effectively converting them into private clients, and the continuing flow of migrants between the UK and the traditional destinations of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and the USA, the services are becoming virtually indistinguishable.

Although the migration trade has slowed in recent years, John said that Crown has managed to maintain or even increase its market share.  He believes that the reason is simple: “It’s the strength of our service and the Crown brand,” he said. 

Crown is in an essentially unique position as the world’s largest international moving group with more than 260 offices in 55 countries.  All are owned by the Crown network and are managed to provide a similarly high level of service.  “People really buy into the idea of us being able to provide full accountability of service,” said John.  “The fact that Crown is there at origin and destination, keeping everything within the same framework, is very powerful.”

One part of the service that private customers like is Crown’s ability to settle insurance claims locally.  “Every Crown office handles claims on behalf of the shipper,” said John.  “We are targeted to settle them within 30 days.  This saves the customer from having to deal with the originating company, often across different time zones, and from having to make expensive phone calls.”

Of course every other company in the international moving industry sells against Crown and other multi-nationals by using the argument that they have the choice to use the best agent in each country, not just the one with the same brand.  It’s an argument with which John and his team are very familiar.  “Crown operates its own internal quality programme that makes the service both robust and competitive,” he said. “We have an internal scoring system to measure all aspects of customer service that go to make up the move itself.  Those results are measured independently through a central point in the Crown network, and reports are produced monthly for internal use. They are published globally so each office can see where it scores within that system.  There is a healthy level of competition to ensure that we are providing the high level of service that we believe is necessary.” 

Where the need for improvement is identified, Crown uses its full-time trainers to work with local teams to ensure that best practice is maintained. “We vet and regularly train crews in packing, handling and customer service, we also monitor their performance by analysing breakage and claims ratios, and by performing regular site visits,” said John.  “Around 10 per cent of our office staff are expats themselves, helping them to have empathy with customers too.”

As the line between corporate and migrant service becomes more blurred, Crown is beginning to offer traditional mobility services to its private customers.  These include property services, school search, cultural training, etc.  “We are not just a mover of boxes,” said John.  “We are more a provider of expertise, information and guidance. Our tag line is ‘Go Knowing’: when people make the decision to go they have the information they need to understand the process.

John has recently joined Crown from a smaller, UK-based international mover.  It’s a different kind of environment.  The whole international moving industry works on relationships and reciprocation.  Crown, however, operates within its own network.  It’s a different dynamic.  “The key,” said John, “is having real conviction about what you are doing.”

Photo: Crown Relocations; John Morris.

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