13 Questions to Ask a Potential Rental-Finding Partner

Diane Ayres, CRP - May 01 2017
Published in: Ask the Experts

Since 2005, Worldwide ERC®’s reporting on transferee volume has shown that 46 to 62 percent of the corporate transferee population has been renters. In today’s marketplace, renters compose well over 50 percent. Identifying the best rental-finding partner would be top of mind for any employer who has this volume, or for any relocation management company RMC) looking for a competitive edge.

Here are 13 critical questions and deliverables you will want in your wheelhouse so you can find the best rental-finding partner for your company and offer your transferees a successful rental program: 

1. What is your geographic coverage? How much of your business is domestic vs. global (inbound U.S.)? 

It’s important to take into consideration what your needs are. If you offer policies that cover both domestic and inbound U.S. transferees, you’ll want to make sure your rental-finding partner is versed in both. Or if you need only domestic coverage now but may have a need for global assistance in the future, you’ll want to make sure you settle on a partner that can meet your future needs.

2. Has your company historically provided products and services to relocation management companies and/or individual companies? If yes, for how many years? 

Are they capable of working with the range of clients that suits your company best? Are they able to adapt and customize services for various sizes and types of businesses? Some may be qualified to handle individual volume, but can they adapt to your needs if you have larger, group moves to one specific area?

3. What metrics/key performance indicators do you regularly track? 

Do they have the ability to analyze and provide you with ongoing data and reporting that substantiates service outcome, success rate, and metrics that will support you? This can be especially helpful to you as an RMC with regard to your own client relationships and a beneficial tool that demonstrates the effectiveness of the rental assistance program. Clients who offer no rental-finding benefits often aren’t aware of the market challenges for renters, or they aren’t aware of the cost savings they can experience in other areas if they offer a quality rental-finding benefit that expedites securing a lease. They need data that demonstrates the value of offering rental finding. There are few rental suppliers who can offer this. As the RMC, you know this, and you know that helping clients receive tangible value through quality, quantifiable metrics creates the value clients need to make policy changes. 

4. What are your average transferee satisfaction scores for the last three years? 

Did you know that many RMCs and clients don’t ask renters about their experience finding a rental unit? Understanding that more than half of corporate transferees are renters, you can improve your value by having feedback to substantiate service effectiveness. To demonstrate effectiveness, it’s important to identify program strengths, determine flaws in the program, seize opportunities to be proactive, and determine whether you want to suggest a program to management or to clients.

5. What types of technology does your company employ that will add value to the process? To assignees? 

With technology at the forefront of many mobility management discussions, it’s important to understand what rental-finding partners offer. Be sure to dig deep. Ask for engagement factors, success rates, and references from users who have experienced the technology. You’ll find that flashy technology doesn’t always equate to quality results. A number of technology tools are in the market because companies have felt pressure to produce something that transferees can access electronically. They may not offer the kind of functionality and information needed to help renters be effective in their search. This is partially because few suppliers are in tune with this specific segment and what renters need. They may know the apartment management market, but they may not know the customer moving to a new city, busy with a transition, and having to search for a place to live. It’s critical that you partner with a company and understand all the dynamics involved before you pay an access fee for technology that doesn’t meet the needs of your transferees. 

6. How do you manage the communication process with the transferee from the time of assignment throughout the service? 

Are they hands-on, managing the process, or is it outsourced to someone else? Are they directly in contact with the transferee throughout the assignment and during the service, advocating for their success? If they’re not actively involved with management of the process, how are they adding value?

7. How do you manage communication with the RMC or mobility manager once a transferee is authorized for service? 

What process do they follow to keep you informed along the way? Are systems in place to provide key status updates to you? Are the updates providing valuable information about the experience and rental-finding outcome? If you’re always asking for updates from your supplier, that could indicate that key process management components are missing. If the status updates contain little substance, it can be a sign of a supplier’s culture of low accountability in terms of performance expectations. 

8. What is the process if a rental isn’t found within the initial service agreement period?

This is by far one of the biggest differentiators among rental-finding suppliers. Does the supplier continue to support the transferee until a rental is found? Or once the agreed-upon service is complete, are transferees on their own to find a rental? The added support may cost more, but it provides the best overall success rate of any rental-finding program. If the metrics, satisfaction ratings, and identifiable value are important to your decision, this question and what you learn will be key for you. 

9. What is your operational team structure? 

Does the supplier have the team members in place to provide the assistance to meet your requirements, from the primary leads, research, and customer care to the accounting functions that your company requires? 

10. What are your pricing policies?

Is it “one size fits all,” or do you customize plans based on the intended outcome and needs of the service?

It’s good to know what service options are offered: area tours, professional rental tours, full and/or half days, self-tours, and lump-sum-policy-only options. What is the range of services offered, and can services be customized?

11. What measures and/or processes do you have in place to ensure your supply chain is offering the appropriate level of service and meeting the needs of the transferees at every level?

Are there policies and procedures that suppliers are expected to uphold? Make sure that the work ethic of your supply chain aligns with the same standards as the rental-finding company. Is there a teamwork approach? Are suppliers trained with an expectation of service outcome results? As with any supplier, it is important to have strong procedures and sound expectations from the rental-finding company. With this process in place, you can expect ethical behavior and the best service for the company and transferee.

12. Describe your company culture and the policies in place to be certain all associates understand and follow ethical behavioral guidelines and anti-corruption and bribery policies.

Do they follow a company playbook or have a mission statement? Do they appear to follow that statement? What drives their employees to do what they do? Do they have a passion for their work, seek to provide best-in-class service, and have a genuine empathy and concern for others? The core values of the company should be apparent and speak to you once you begin talking about service needs with a rental-finding company. 

13. Describe your internal policies and procedures to ensure all systems are maintained effectively, and that sensitive data is secure at all times.

Security is a major concern at all levels in today’s business world. Do they offer assurance that your information and that of your clients is secure? Are their systems and operational procedures regularly evaluated?

All of these are key questions to guide you as you begin to consider, review, and talk with potential rental-finding partners.