Why Domestic Pre-Decision Programs are Crucial for Your Business

by Jerry Funaro, CRP, GMS
Vice President, Global Marketing, TRC Global Mobility, Inc.

A recent history of domestic pre-decision programs

Pre-decision planning has been around for a long time, at least on the international side. For domestic relocations, most employers left it up to the employee and his or her family to determine whether or not the move was a good idea. The employee and family had to consider:

  • home sale and purchase ramifications
  • cost-of-living changes
  • whether the spouse or partner will be able to find employment in the new location
  • children’s education
  • healthcare availability
  • neighborhood navigation
  • the employee’s and family’s readiness and suitability for relocation

The results of this hands-off approach were not surprising: many relocations either never got off the ground or failed, resulting in job dissatisfaction, attrition, family issues and wasted business opportunities. The Great Recession and an uncertain U.S. real estate market further aggravated the situation, spurring more employers to extend pre-decision services for domestic relocations as well.

Prior to a domestic move offer, a pre-decision program provides an employee with services ranging from in-depth needs counseling, broker market analyses (BMA) or appraisals to establish the value of the departure home, destination mortgage pre-approval and a pre-decision trip.

The times they are a-changin’

Today, many U.S. employers have recognized that successful relocation depends on more than an employee’s technical competence. In fact, Worldwide ERC® data show that more than half of U.S. employers currently provide at least some level of pre-decision assistance. These employers are taking a more holistic approach; employees and employers are more likely to have frank discussions regarding the costs and expectations of a proposed relocation.

Benefits of pre-decision programs

As the name indicates, the pre-decision program occurs before a firm relocation offer is made. Properly managed, it allows the employer and employee alike to estimate the costs and other impacts of the move and for each side to decide if it makes good business sense. In addition, a well-structured pre-decision program can help companies to:

  • manage talent more effectively
  • identify candidates who are unwilling or financially unable to move
  • reduce the risk of failed relocations
  • increase acceptance rates
  • assess the financial impact of the relocation and budget
  • reduce the number of policy exceptions
  • speed cycle times due to more realistic departure home pricing

Pre-decision programs can also help prospective transferees to:

  • determine whether the transfer makes career and economic sense
  • gain a more complete understanding of the financial impact of the move
  • become more comfortable with, and invested in, their decision
  • pinpoint a realistic market value and asking price for the departure home
  • avoid unpleasant surprises

Potential pitfalls of pre-decision programs

Pre-decision programs have a few potential disadvantages: They add another layer of administrative process that can delay the start of an assignment. Some employees may find the process intrusive. Pre-decision programs can also bring extra costs, including charges for third-party pre-decision counseling services and additional services offered to meet uncovered needs. And if the typical BMA home valuation approach is used, your company (or your relocation management company) will need a pool of qualified and willing real estate agents, who may or may not charge for the service.

In part 2 of this blog, we’ll go into more detail about the pre-decision planning process, including an initial needs assessment and real estate considerations.

About TRC

Since 1987, TRC has delivered creative, cost-effective relocation and international assignment services across the United States and in more than 150 other countries around the world. TRC partners with its clients to develop competitive, best-practice relocation programs, drawing from a comprehensive range of relocation services including U.S. home selling, home finding and consulting services and complete international relocation services. TRC’s client base represents a wide variety of products and services and ranges from startup firms to Global 1000 companies.


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