In this month’s feature of the ReloQuest blog Learning Through Leadership, we were fortunate to receive valuable, straightforward commentary from Mr. Craig Donovan, Senior Vice President of Lexicon Relocation. When asked the following questions, Mr. Donovan provided us with first-hand insight regarding relocation and the world of Global Mobility.
The ReloQuest team would like to express our gratitude to Mr. Donovan, for contributing his time and sharing his knowledge and advice in our blog series. His honest motivational answers shed light on the challenges faced in relocation and the ethical way to do what is fair for all concerned.
1. Mr. Donovan, it is said that even geniuses make mistakes. Albert Einstein said, “The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.” Please share with us an experience that you have learned from. Give us an example of how a mistake proved valuable.
“I joined Lexicon Relocation five years ago; my role was to create a more formalized supply chain structure for the organization. I advised our existing supply chain members all future communications and face-to-face meetings should come through me so I would be able to get a clear perspective on current practices. Suppliers did not need to visit our regional offices any longer as they had in the past because all decisions would come through corporate headquarters.
What I had not taken into account was the importance of the day to day operational relationship between our teams and the supplier teams. Later I came to change my department’s name to Global Network Integration in part because of the importance of integrating our suppliers into our Lexicon culture. By stopping, briefly, the office visits I had disrupted that thing that we take most pride in: the relationship on a day to day level.
We now conduct various ‘LexNetworking’ events throughout the year at our regional offices. Suppliers come and network directly with our operational staff. We can coordinate our team’s time and availability, and this process continues growing our valuable and mutually beneficial relationships.”
2. Name mobility trends that you feel should be top of mind for those involved with employee relocation.
The two words I think of as top of mind mobility trends are Speed and Choice. The traditional timeline of employee and client communication has shortened and become more direct. The greater use of technology overall has exacerbated this (“If I can order an Uber in 1 minute, why can’t I get a moving truck here tomorrow?”), but can also be part of the solution.
The technology generation is about “Just the facts, ma’am,” and that means Relocation Management Companies must create easy-to-use interfaces with our customers and provide choices. You can’t just state you cannot book a full-service rush move on July 3rd. Alternately, you may be able to say; I cannot get you a traditional HHG move, but I can offer crate and freight, pack, and hold at a warehouse, or another non-traditional method. You are providing options and quickly offering solutions.
3. How would you describe your leadership style and how does it translate into your everyday work? Has it affected your corporate culture?
My leadership style is to create a strategic vision and then let my team determine, implement, and execute new best practices and processes to achieve that vision. To me, it is important to not micro-manage your team, or even warn of potential pitfalls. The best education is from trial and error and failure. If your team is afraid to try new things your organization cannot evolve and grow.
At Lexicon Relocation, we pass this theory on to our suppliers by volunteering to be project pilots for ideas they bring forward. I would prefer a supplier try something new and fail than never try new ways of looking at our business. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” may be the safe route, but to me, this approach demonstrates complacency and stagnation.
4. What are some of your initiatives regarding technology?
Our first key initiative is using technology to increase the efficiency of our end-to-end products for our teams and our suppliers. We are targeting a significant level of API-integration with suppliers (like ReloQuest) through our operational platform. This effort increases the efficiency and accuracy of items that previously required input into two different systems. Because this process reduces overhead costs, this technology allows us, and suppliers, to realize marginal revenue growth without increasing direct costs to our clients.
The second key initiative is to afford greater digitalization for those relocating employees that want it, or for our clients who will require it by policy. For those individuals with limited policy benefits, it is important we create a value-add experience and reduce the obstacles to providing a worry-free relocation. We need to put the best tools and options for various services, under their intuitive control. There are many moving pieces to relocation. Historically, Relocation Management Companies have backed away from trying to support limited benefit employees. We are building processes, supported by technology, to close the gap between what a lump sum employee needs and what a Relocation Management Company effectively delivers.
5. Here’s a chance to get on your soap box–if you were to host a conference what topics would you feel need industry attention? What issue is perplexing to you?
If I had the opportunity to host a conference needing industry attention, my focus would be on the role and importance of on-the-ground suppliers to the mobility industry. Every Relocation Management Company around the globe has, and relies on, a network of suppliers for delivering a variety of services. Many of these relocation providers have attempted to convert the art of customer service into a commodity. Each company is trying to maximize revenue, but we must be cognizant of how thin we make margins, and who’s margins we cut.
Where we can, we need to increase revenue through efficiency and ease of process. It is critical that suppliers that are face-to-face with our clients’ relocating employees deliver their services without consideration to whether this opportunity is a “make money client, or not.” We all want to be compensated fairly, so as a Relocation Management Company, each company needs to do a better job or determining fair market value of services rather than the cheapest. Every service a Relocation Management Company coordinates and plans are essentially part of an experience for the relocating employee, and experience based on various services of “lowest to bid” is bound to fail.
6. What is your career related passion in life? What is it you enjoy about the Mobility Industry?
My career-related passion in the Mobility Industry is mutual respect. I want to be respected by the suppliers I work with. I want them to view the way I work with them and feel that I was honest, upfront and fair, even when I must discuss a difficult subject. I enjoy the people and companies I work with, but never want to confuse that ease of relationship with the need to perform to high-quality standards.
What I enjoy the most about working in the Mobility industry are my ‘Relationships.’ The Mobility Industry attracts a particularly open and friendly group of people. Whether you are a client or a supplier, we are all work in Customer Service. This work is our shared bond. No matter how high up the food chain you are, everyone at some point is delivering service to someone else. Doing so is not always easy, but it’s what leads to a certain shared camaraderie in our business.
7. What is the most important decision you make every day as a Mobility Specialist?
The most important decision I must make every day as a Mobility Specialist is to question everything we do and how/why we do it. Not that I am contrarian, but with an expressed purpose of making things better for my company, my suppliers, and my clients. Whether it produces a faster process, higher revenue, or enhanced service; (and in a perfect world all at the same time), my daily decision is not to let today be like yesterday or tomorrow like today.
Mr. Donovan’s Bio:
Craig is responsible for overseeing Lexicon’s worldwide network of preferred suppliers and the real estate inventory programs. To provide the greatest value for Lexicon’s clients, he oversees the processes, selection criteria and evaluation metrics to manage and measure the global supply chain as well as ensure best in class personnel and structure to reduce marketing time and loss on sale of inventory homes.
Craig has more than 20 years of experience in the relocation management industry. He joined Lexicon five years ago and previously worked at another relocation company for 17 years in various service groups and multiple US locations.