‘Pandemic’ was the word of the year in 2020. A very likely contender for 2021 will be ‘supply chain.’ In our industry which is supporting the relocation and business travel needs of the globally mobile workforce, businesses need a reliable, professional network of local, last-mile experts for sourcing temporary and long-term housing and coordinating critical services. These service partners are the linchpin of the customer experience. Depth, breadth, quality, and assurance of supply are indicators of how reliable and scalable your core supply chains are. If core relationships are stressed, the customer service experience will likely be at risk – and that’s not a risk Dwellworks or any of our clients are willing to take,
For a look at how Dwellworks has effectively delivered service without disruption throughout the pandemic and in preparation for the ‘return to mobility’, we checked in with the leaders who manage our supply chain operations: Jeff Wynes, VP, Global Supply Chain, Destination Services and Debbie Woodley, VP, Global Supply Chain, Temporary Living.
How are your teams? And how’s business?
Jeff: Business is busy, and the team is great. Our global Destination Services supply chain team includes associates in the Americas, EMEA and APAC. We have truly never been busier. Even when customers weren’t physically moving, there has been a non-stop need for advice and insight on a local level. No amount of national reporting on Covid-19 takes the place of wanting to know, “in my destination, my schools, my city …what are the rules, what’s going on?” Our Consultants have been adaptable and remarkable in every country where we operate, delivering through both virtual and in-person engagement.
The very nature of the job has flexibility and adaptability built-in. The job of our internal team is to source the great local folks who do this work, offer them resources and guidance, facilitate intra-network discussions, and create the baseline content that the experts adapt with their valuable local insights. We provide a platform, myDwellworks, where all the work gets organized and reported on, so we can track performance, provide feedback and keep improving. We literally have a front-row view to how the mobile workforce is adapting and what they need to succeed. Understanding those needs, for tens of thousands of moves every year, in nearly 20 countries, gives us perspective and analytics for our clients at a really unprecedented scale.
Debbie: How’s business? Can I say exhilarating? After the doldrums of mid-year 2020, we experienced a 300% rebound in new requests for housing by mid-2021. Every imaginable global pandemic scenario notwithstanding, business is ‘up and to the right’ because furnished apartments have truly become a preferred option. Hotels are still largely a public space. Apartments are private. The need is there and we’re finding solutions for people every day, not without some challenges, but making it happen in 100+ countries and thousands of localities.
Our global team is focused on nurturing and sustaining the quality relationships we had in place before the pandemic and on expanding the network to address new markets and growing volume. Our partners interact with us through epic, our powerful sourcing and reporting system, and our job, very simply, is to stay in close contact with our partner suppliers. Monitoring availability, external impacts on pricing, quality of service, managing changes and extensions. 2020 was very quiet; 2021 has been all about gaining momentum, leveraging our expertise, and partnering with our suppliers and operators to stay ahead of the curve. And so far, we have.
What’s the size and reach of the supply chain you and your team manage?
Jeff: Big and global. At Dwellworks Destination Services, our network of local experts, in a full demand environment, is over 1500 service professionals, operating in 17 countries. The US is the world’s number one relocation destination, so not surprisingly nearly half of our service Consultant partners are here, with proportionate coverage in other key markets, like China, Hong Kong, the UK, Ireland, Germany, Canada and many more throughout the Americas, EMEA and APAC. And by coverage, we mean national coverage. Our service promise is if your clients are moving people to a country where Dwellworks has service delivery capabilities, then we cover that entire country…major metros as well as smaller towns and villages.
Debbie: Our temporary housing footprint is even bigger. It has to be. Our business model is to provide a single point of temporary housing solutions management to clients and their traveling and relocating workforce anywhere in the world. As a global solutions partner, we have resources in 120+ countries through 3000+ service relationships and 50,000+ properties. We don’t own buildings; we are not asset managers, and we are not property operators. Our fantastic suppliers are all of those. What they aren’t, is global supply chain managers. Their job is to deliver incredible experiences at competitive prices and great quality; our job is to source and organize global options for clients without friction or delay.
How do you manage to be global and local all at once?
Jeff: As a business service, we offer economies of scale, global compliance with GDPR, data security on all systems, including mobile phones, obligatory Code of Conduct compliance, anti-bribery and related protections, plus the simplicity and security of a consistently excellent service experience in literally hundreds of business locations around the world. From our perspective, that’s a very smart and efficient commercial choice.
While the business framework is all about risk management, the service experience is all about creating value for the employee and family. It’s very personal and very local. We onboard people who love what they do…they love their cities and towns, they thrive on building local relationships with landlords and schools, they dive deep into micro-local knowledge: the most efficient licensing bureau, the most customer-friendly social security office, the local senior center with the newest facilities, the pet hotel with the most accommodating hours. The service is finding a place to live and getting people settled. It takes a unique blend of organizational skills and empathy. And that’s what our team sources for, successfully, on a global scale. The experience is backed up by the system, and the system is adaptive to the inputs of the local experts.
Debbie: Ditto to all that, and when it comes to temporary housing, not only do we need great, engaged, available, flexible, responsive supplier partners, we need to manage that capability on a truly global scale. The level of compliance in temporary housing meets all the standards Jeff noted, plus HSSE regulations and covid-sanitation protocols and duty of care.
We’re now also engaging our suppliers on best practices in sustainability so that in addition to offering properties that are safe, compliant and attractive, they are also sustainable in terms of carbon footprint and best environmental practice. Adoption across the entire supply chain will take time, but the conversations are underway. Our partners know our clients have evolving criteria and to earn business, they need to be responsive, which is where scale comes in. Clients simplify their travel and relocation management by using Dwellworks Living as a centralized source of supply, and suppliers respond positively to aggregated, consolidated demand. The customer experience happens in selection, quick confirmation, following up with a personal touch, and 24-7-365 access to live service support. The global scale makes the investment in the local personal service possible.
In our next interview, we’ll explore the unique value proposition of these service supply chains. For more information, contact us