Gerard Geijtenbeek of Roldo Rent presented a view of the world of work and its effects on the moving industry
to the Young Movers conference in Malta.
Gerard Geijtenbeek from Roldo Rent, the European specialist in rental equipment for removal companies, presented a view of the world of work and its effect on the moving industry to the Young Movers conference in Malta in June. His conclusion was that the moving industry has changed so much in recent years that a different approach is needed for companies that wish to secure a prosperous future.
Gerard started his presentation by looking at some of the changes that had affected the workplace in general. The demographic certainty of an aging population means that we all have to work for longer and governments are removing compulsory retirement ages to allow companies to retain skills for longer and reduce the burden on pension schemes. The changing world population with, for example, the population of India likely to break 2 billion within the next few years will change world mobility forever. Environmental concerns dominate our lives, restricting movement and encouraging virtual relationships. And new technology gives us the opportunity to achieve a level of globalisation, from our own workspaces, that was inconceivable a few years ago.
Social and political factors too are changing the world of work. High energy prices are having a disproportionate effect on costs. The economic crises in Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and elsewhere, create uncertainty. Political unrest too, largely fuelled by high oil and food prices, hangs like a cloud over every one of us.
The young generation of workers are different too. Generation Y people, as those born since 1977 are called, have a different outlook and a different agenda from those who went before. Those of the Baby Boom generation (post war babies) were in fear of authority and thought a job for life was a good thing. “Generation Y people have 10-14 jobs before they settle,” said Gerard. “They have loyalty to their skills not to their employers. They operate largely independent of time and place, demand flexible employment contracts, require a proper work/life balance and have the ability to work anywhere – at home, at a coffee bar or in a communal office.”
These combined changes, , will bring: 30% less traffic, 5% less absenteeism, less paper, 40% less e-mail, 40% less office space and 30 minutes more productivity a day. This is according to several investigations on the Internet.
Survival tool: many companies see diversifying into other
services as an essential part of their business strategy.
Effects on the moving industry
Gerard believes that, for the moving industry it’s not all good news: it will result in heavy price competition. “At this moment in The Netherlands about 25% of office space is empty and, according to the OEV (Dutch moving trade association) the number of removals has decreased in the last two years by between 20% and 40%. As office space reduces because people work from home more, and as companies move less to combat high oil prices and combat of economic instability, the volume of office moves will reduce. Assuming the number of removal companies remains the same, you will have a heavy price competition.”
But Gerard believes that the outlook is worse than that because the number of small removal companies will increase. “In The Netherlands we did have around 300 removal companies until the crisis. Now, after two years of crisis we have over 500! You can imagine what that means for prices. All the guys that lost their jobs at a removal company will start their own. And, to make the drama complete, removal companies have serious competition from facility companies, cleaning companies, furniture companies. They all see their markets decrease and are looking for other activities. In The Netherlands there are 8,000 cleaning companies, in Germany there are 50,000.”
Gerard said that in 1998 in The Netherlands a remover could ask euro 30/hour but today that figure is more like euro 20/hour. In cities such a Berlin, where competition is even stronger, it’s as little as euro 14/hour. “The only reason so few removal companies went into bankruptcy was that they are family owned companies without high repayments and other obligations to banks and others.”
Diversify to survive
So some serious new strategies for the removal business are required.
Diversification is important, however most companies have already diversified their activities to some extent. Gerard says that the answer lies not only in diversification. “Nowadays you can indentify at least 20 different services a removal company can offer. Every company has to develop its own strategy to reach new target groups, to increase their level of quality, to provide other services, to look for new markets, to cooperate with other suppliers, etc. And, to compete with other suppliers outside the removal industry, a removal company will have to increase it’s quality level in general.” Gerard added that although a low price formula can be successful, few of those who have tried it have yet been successful. If future that might all change.
Nobody would dispute with Gerard the fact that the world has changed and the moving industry is changing with it. Many people will mourn the good old days when moving was moving and little more. Today however, the stresses may be greater but, handled with good business sense, so are the opportunities.
Editor’s Note: This opinion about diversification is echoed by another Gerard featured in this issue. Gerard Burke spoke at the Britannia conference. His message though was to make sure that you stick to what you know best and ensure all diversification is using skills and resources with which you are already familiar. Read his report on page 12.
After studying livestock and business management, Gerard worked for eight years as a teacher at agricultural colleges. His grandfather had started a moving company in Utrecht in 1924 and then sold it in the sixties. Gerard’s father worked as an independent moving consultant for moving companies and started a rental company in 1980. After he died in 1993 Gerard took over this company and expanded it. Today Roldo Rent provides rental moving equipment to over 750 moving companies in seven countries.