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Inhouse Mobility Blog

Case Study: Integrating Relocation Services and Solving Problems (International Household Goods Moving)

Case Summary

A client in the pharmaceutical industry needed to relocate an executive level assignee (Mr. A) with a wife and two children from San Diego to Munich The assignee was English, but had lived in Japan and California for many years. He met and married his Japanese wife in Tokyo. The services required were international household goods moving services, Area Orientation Tour, Home Search, Furniture Rental and organizing a a short term accommodation. The household goods move proved to be the most challenging element of the relocation.

The Challenges

  • The assignee was travelling between Tokyo, San Diego and Munich and his wife remained in California until moving day. The assignee worked directly with us on the Area Orientation and Home Finding in Munich and his wife dealt with the household goods move. The wife spoke very little English so the pre-move survey needed to be conducted in Japanese
  • The chosen property in Munich was considerably smaller than the house in San Diego and on delivery some large items of furniture would not go through the doors and up the stairs
  • The wife insisted that she wanted to move immediately into her new home on arrival and did not want to spend a single night in a hotel

Our solution

Our first priority for the removal was to conduct the pre-move survey in Japanese. We contacted our local partner who although they did not have a Japanese speaking surveyor did have a Relocation Coordinator fluent in Japanese who accompanied the surveyor to translate. She was also able to explain that Munich houses are much smaller and that the volume to be shipped would therefore need to be limited to a maximum volume equal to a 40 foot container.

The wife explained that she preferred to have an initial shipment of personal effects and selected furniture, but beds and sofas and should remain at the California property so she could stay with the children in familiar surroundings until departure day. She also requested an air freight shipment of essential personal effects to take place at the same time as the second shipment. As this was absolutely key to the wife, two sea and one air shipment were approved by the client. There were therefore four consignments:

  • Sea freight shipment (#1)
  • Sea freight shipment (#2)
  • Air freight shipment
  • Storage of items in California

We arranged an Area Orientation in Munich and booked short term accommodation for the assignee as once the move to Munich was confirmed he needed to spend more time in the Munichoffice. The family however did not want to move until the end of the summer break and it had to be timed around the daughter taking part in a horse riding competition in California. We therefore arranged the Home Finding so long term accommodation could be secured for occupation at the end of the summer break. The date of the first removal was planned so the shipment would arrive at the same time as the lease commenced. (Second sea freight, air freight and storage to be packed immediately before the family left California.)

All went well and the assignee moved into the new house just before the family arrived. As beds and sofas were not due to arrive until a few weeks later (in the second shipment) the Inhouse Global Mobility Consultant organized set up of rental furniture to cover this need. The family moved in and all was well.

When the second delivery took place it was soon clear the large sofas from the US would not make it through an internal door and up the stairs. We proposed two options:

Option1: An external elevator would not work so the only option to deliver the sofas was to hire a crane, which in turn would require closing the street – this is extremely expensive and a 6 week notification period is required.

Option 2: Leave the rental furniture in place and store the sofas until the family moved again – much more cost effective and less disruptive.

The second option was chosen and the family kept the rental sofas.

How Inhouse Added Value

  • Although cost saving was less of a priority for HR than taking care of the family, we still contained costs by using the language resources of our US partner rather than going to the expense of hiring a translator; providing a cost effective alternative for the sofa problem; avoiding hotel or serviced accommodation costs for the family by making sure the house was furnished and ready for them
  • We integrated relocation, removal and furniture rental services to make a complex relocation run smoothly -> Communication through our Single Point Point of Coordination was highly appreciated by the assignee and family
  • We came up with creative solutions for the problem areas we anticipated in advance and for the “on the day” sofa problem
  • Every aspect of the relocation was closely managed and as a result both the assignee and HR were very satisfied with our service


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