Employee relocation remains a key talent management strategy for organizations that must deploy employees to locations for an extended period of time. Increasingly, the mobility practice of placing an employee on a temporary assignment is now preferred to permanent relocations.
To meet this growing need for assignment support, CORT, a Berkshire Hathaway company best known as the market leader in furniture rental solutions for the past four decades, developed the nation’s first and most comprehensive suite of assignment and rental relocation services. CORT is leveraging its core strengths in the rapid deployment and management of rental furniture, its ApartmentSearch.com apartment search services and destination-area services to empower the world’s mobile workforce with solutions that reduce costs and ease the transition to a new location.
Case Study: APX Alarm Overview
One such company is APX Alarm Security Solutions, one the largest providers of residential security solutions with hundreds of thousands of customers across North America. CORT taps its extensive database of available apartments from its ApartmentSearch.com service, broad range of rental relocation solutions and international reach to secure temporary housing and furniture for the employees and their families relocating for APX Alarm.
Each summer APX Alarm deploys teams of thousands of sales representatives, technicians and installers for a four to five month assignment in approximately 120 markets across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. The logistical demands of finding and securing housing for these employees have become increasingly complex.
Since 2000, CORT had supplied furniture for teams in many markets, and had consistently impressed the management team with their exceptional customer service and operational expertise. By 2005 CORT was securing 50 percent of the program’s housing needs through its long-standing partnerships with property management firms and apartment communities.
“From our previous experience working with CORT, we knew them to be extremely professional and reliable, which is critical for a project of this scope,” said Suzy Zeller, manager of APX Alarm’s housing program. “Their familiarity with our needs, their geographic reach, and flexibility to work in markets where they did not already have a presence were the key factors in our decision to work with CORT.”
CORT began managing all of the program’s housing and furniture rental needs with the launch of their rental relocation services in 2006. Through this suite of services, CORT offers a range of solutions to help corporations recruit and retain top talent, rapidly deploy project teams and key employees, effectively manage assets, help companies develop business continuity and disaster recovery plans and much more. With services including apartment locating, housing and market orientation tours, car rentals, hotel and extended stay reservations, moving and storage solutions, spousal support services, utility connections and renters insurance, CORT can customize programs which simplify transitions through a single point of contact.
CORT develops a dedicated team of locating experts to identify properties in each market that meet the housing management team’s criteria. After presenting their recommendations in an online report, the APX Alarm housing management team reviews pictures, property specifications and lease options to decide which properties best meet the needs of their team.
These online reports have evolved to such a level of detail that APX Alarm often makes housing selections in each market without physically visiting the properties. While CORT has offices in the nation’s top metropolitan markets, occasionally summer teams will be deployed in areas where CORT does not currently have a presence. In these instances CORT visits the market to research properties and expand their database before making housing recommendations.
CORT also negotiates lease terms with apartment communities and provides furniture and, occasionally, housewares rentals. Utilities and other services are bundled per market in a monthly lump sum bill. For example, 20 nights of hotel stays and utility bills in Dallas will be billed through a single CORT invoice. Utility connections are one part of CORT’s suite of rental relocation services. CORT arranges for utilities to be turned on prior to a sales team’s arrival and turned off after their departure.
CORT also built upon Zeller’s feedback to enhance their process of reporting suitable properties in each market. CORT began creating web pages for each market, rather than submitting potential properties for review on a one-by-one basis. CORT and Zeller have also worked together to create unique furniture packages based on combinations of furniture that APX Alarm consistently requested for their employees’ apartments.
CORT leveraged its longstanding relationships with apartment communities and the volume of employees seeking temporary housing to negotiate housing packages with regional property management companies. Regional housing packages reduce the number of markets that must be visited and researched on an individual basis and allows the property management company to send one credit application and master lease to CORT in exchange for a lump sum security deposit. This process streamlined the logistical challenges for APX Alarm, providing recommendations to secure as many as 300 units with one agreement.
“Working with CORT is a dream; without their help we could never pull this process off so smoothly,” said Zeller. “They provide so much of the back-end work that takes the most time, and if we were to try and do this work in-house we would more than double our workload.”
Goldman Sachs conducts an annual review of the summer housing program to measure the program’s efficiency and the effects of outsourcing the project versus managing the program in-house.
“Year after year, CORT came in as the best hybrid option that provides costs savings, ease of use, level of support and service offering,” said Zeller. “Most of our employees have no idea how we manage this process, they just know that it is simple and taken care of when they arrive. CORT makes this process possible, and the complexity is transparent to our employees."