As the ReloQuest blog Learning Through Leadership continues we are privileged to receive informative, frank, commentary from Mr.Bradley Hamelin, CRP, GMS Director of Global Solutions at Relocation America International, Greater Detroit Area. When asked the following questions, Mr. Hamelin provided beneficial advice along with an authentic account of life experiences and industry knowledge from his 21 plus years of Relocation Industry Expertise–sure to inspire colleagues and mentees alike.
1. Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by people that have a great personal story to tell or have overcome great challenge; people like Gunnar Esiason (the son of former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason). Gunnar was born with cystic fibrosis, an often fatal genetic disease which I have a personal connection to as my sister was born with it.
Gunnar refuses to give into the limitations of his disease. He went to college, coaches hockey, and is a tireless advocate/ fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (cff.org) and as his Twitter profile says “He’s still searching for something he can’t do.” Whenever life presents problems, I’m always reminded of people like Gunnar and that things could always be worse.
2. Global mobility professionals can educate talent managers on procedural, regulatory and cultural norms for expats. What internal communication processes and technology platforms you have integrated that have proved most successful in delivering a smooth transition and successful relocation, and how did the benefits help with efficiency?
RA International Connect- we developed our app with the end user (the transferee) in focus. It’s a technological extension of our consultants and builds upon the relationship we endeavor to build with each client we touch. Rather than make the focus of the app be about RAI and our capabilities the emphasis is on our consultants since they are the single point of contact with the transferring employee. The app has brought convenience and efficiency to the relocating experience we offer.
Reloquest- we’re very excited about our partnership. Thus far it has delivered what we expected it would. It has provided our transferees a greater choice of furnished options at significant cost savings that we can then pass along to our clients. Temporary housing benefits are key drivers of mobility cost and having a tool to not only source but also analyze client spend in this area is fantastic.
Touch Management System- currently in development. TMS is a transferee caseload management system that will offer our consultants greater efficiency in working with their families so more time can be spent building that relationship.
3. Is there a topic in Mobility that you would like to offer a commentary on? What are your mobility objectives for your department?
A number of years ago, an article appeared in Mobility Magazine which still sticks with me to this day. The title of the article was The Erosion of Service in the Mobility Industry. The article outlined how service levels have declined in the mobility industry over the years due to a number of factors the largest of which is the pricing model relocation management companies are utilizing. In my opinion, I think this is one of the single biggest challenges the mobility industry is facing and will continue to face in the future.
How do you deliver best in class service at a time when corporate purchasing departments are demanding ever aggressive fee structures in exchange for their relocation business? It’s a question we all as service providers grapple with and one that will continue to present many RMC’s with a constant challenge on how to drive efficiency without impacting the corporate client and service levels.
4. How would you describe your leadership style and how does it translate into your everyday work? Has it affected your corporate culture?
I tend to see myself as a coach not as a boss or supervisor. I tell my team of consultants this all the time (ask Loraine). Part of my job is to give my team the tools they need to be successful with their clients and transferees. Sharing my experiences and knowledge and empowering them to make the best decisions in the interest of the client is my style and one that makes for a fun and relaxed working environment and culture at Relocation America International.
I enjoy sitting with my team during the work day and getting my hands dirty so to speak. Even though, I do have a great knowledge base to draw upon I also don’t pretend to be the smartest person in the room. I do a lot of self-reflection and am still learning myself.
After almost 21 years in relocation. On the rare occasion, there is a service issue I always look to see if there was something I could have done or some knowledge I could have shared which might have prevented it.
5. What do you do to manage your time? How do you maintain your mental and physical stamina? Are there organizational tools you couldn’t live without?
Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook, I think helps to build mental stamina. I’m a great listener, but unfortunately, I’m not a great note taker. I’ve been told that I have a strong memory although I couldn’t live without my Outlook calendar. It allows me to manage my time effectively and keep track of almost everything. Every meeting, call, or event regardless of the significance gets an invite or entry.
Physically I maintain my stamina by riding my bike to work. I have a long commute (it’s 44 miles round trip), but I find it gives me time to think, strategize and it also keeps me in shape. Some days are tough (Metro Detroit traffic can be brutal) but overall it’s relaxing and fun.
6. What advice would you offer to a millennial just starting in the Mobility Industry? Can you give them three rules to guide them?
You have to pay great attention to all the details of each and every move. If a transferring client seems especially stressed there is almost always an underlying reason. It’s a good idea to find out what that reason is and strive to address the soft issues/details of their relocation, so the relocation experience gets turned around. What I’ve discovered is that sometimes a dose of humor or relation of a personal story goes a long way in helping people let their guard down.
I also recommend that mobility professionals not be afraid to be themselves. If people feel comfortable and can relate to you as a person rather than an email address or phone number, then building trust is easy. Trust between transferee and consultant is essential to any positive relocation experience.
You also have to actually care about the well-being of the people you’re relocating. If you don’t, you won’t go beyond what’s expected of you, which will show up in lower client retention and transferee satisfaction.
Always be learning. Developing a strong appetite for new information and processes is a key ingredient to success. Don’t ever think your job is finished; there is always more you can learn which will help you grow into a leader within the mobility industry.
7. What is your career related passion in life? What is it you enjoy about the Mobility Industry?
I know it may sound cliché, but my career related passion is client and transferee service. It’s what I’ve built my career around and what my focus is each and every workday. What processes can I improve? What should we be doing or what should we stop doing to make the client experience that much better? Are there old school practices that might work better than technological ones? Are there new suppliers that could provide an even better experience that I don’t yet know about or do business with? These are some of the questions I ask myself constantly.
It’s my belief that if you take care of the client first and make them the center of everything you do then revenue/profits will follow suit. I’ve been a transferee myself, and I know first-hand what it’s like to pick up and move not only from another country (I’m from Canada) but also to another state.
I enjoy the scale and closeness of the mobility industry and the tremendous amount of knowledge sharing that goes on. Whether it be at a local, regional or national conference, a visit to a service partner or thru Relocation America International’s social media platforms I find that my constant need for knowledge is always being met by someone I meet or happen to run into at one of these events, visits or online interactions.
I’ve been fortunate to have met and worked with some of the brightest minds in my 21 years in the mobility industry, and I value these relationships greatly.
8. Let’s talk technology—why is it vital to the mobility Industry, and what benefits have you seen from integration of technology to meet your client’s and corporate needs?
Mobile technology is a vital part of any transferring employee’s relocation experience. With more of us anchored to our smartphones, client’s need immediate access to all of their policy information, expense management, and other related relocation information.
Our mobile app, RA International Connect acts as an extension of our consultant, not a replacement. When planning, and building it, we wanted to make the app experience one where the transferring employee almost felt as if they were interacting with their single point of contact mobility consultant.
The flip side of this is that just having a mobile app is not enough. You have to pay attention to it by actively reading reviews and continually updating it based on user feedback. Having mobile technology languish just for the sake of having it is almost worse than not having one at all.
Brad Hamelin Bio:
Brad Hamelin, CRP, GMS directs the delivery of global mobility services to Relocation America International’s corporate client base. He is responsible for service delivery, policy consulting and providing support and advocacy for Relocation America International’s portfolio of Fortune 500 clients. He manages a team of Global Mobility Consultants to meet quality standards, assists the business development team with RFP requests and manages Relocation America International’s supplier network.
Brad has 21 years of relocation and account management experience having worked for two different relocation management companies as both a Director of Client Services and a Senior Client Services Manager. He is a Certified Relocation Professional (CRP), Global Mobility Specialist (GMS), and maintains a State of Michigan Real Estate Salespersons License. Brad is a graduate of the University of Windsor, Ontario and a resident of Rochester, Michigan.