The specific structure of a relocation department will vary depending on the size and location of the firm. The department will consist of a relocation director, and may be staffed by counselors and coordinators whose responsibilities will support the business generated from referrals to and from their department and its affiliations.
Internal Department Structure and Functions
Regardless of the specific relocation services offered, the relocation department will develop criteria for agent eligibility and ongoing training. Training materials for agents and staff would come under the relocation budget. Agents are selected from those who are specifically trained and qualified. Transferee packets are developed and maintained within the relocation department. All relocation activity must be tracked and reported.
I. Sources of Business
A. Broker Referral Networks
Most real estate brokers with relocation departments belong to at least one referral network. The relocation director is primarily responsible for marketing his/her brokerage around the network, thus encouraging incoming referrals from other brokers. The relocation department coordinates and tracks referrals of both incoming and outgoing business.
B. Relocation Management Companies
Another valuable source of business for the residential relocation department is incoming business referred by one of the larger Relocation Management Companies. These operate nationally, and may refer to any broker that offers coverage in a specific geographic market. The relocation director markets the services directly to these companies. All listing and buying referrals are incoming, which means that the relocation department can monitor activity very closely. Referrals may include group moves for which on-site counseling or group tours may be necessary.
C. Direct Corporate Clients
Many relocation departments develop and maintain relationships with their own corporate clients, and administer and coordinate some or all of the programs offered by those clients’ transferees. The relocation director or a designated marketing team may be responsible for developing these relationships. Any or all of the various relocation benefits offered by the corporate client can be administered and coordinated within the department, occasionally through partnerships with direct providers of household goods shipping, title companies, etc. Development of materials, tracking activity, and invoicing for services would all be the responsibility of the relocation department.
D. Inventory Property Management
The referral of an inventory property listing may require bids, overseeing of repairs, billing of utilities, and regular property status reports. Recording and reporting of such functions to the Relocation Management Company would be required.
Many relocation departments provide marketing assistance for properties that have been foreclosed upon by a bank (REO’s). Management of these properties is very similar to the management of inventory listings, as described above.
F. Affinity Programs
Many real estate companies offer affinity programs, which may be marketed through employers, associations, or groups. Participation in an affinity program enables the buyer/seller of a home to receive monetary and service benefits related to the transaction. Since real estate laws differ from state to state, there are limitations regarding specific benefits. Affinity programs are generally managed and administered by the relocation department.
II. Ongoing Education and Benchmarking
It is expected that the relocation director will continually monitor trends in the relocation industry as well as trends within the real estate brokerage’s geographic area. This can be done in a variety of ways; through membership in a relocation council, attendance at seminars, reading industry updates and networking with peers. In this way the relocation department can become a valued resource to both its own agents as well as its corporate clients.
Authored By:Nancy Sigel – Prudential Starck Realty
Barbara Springer – @properties