What a Moving Industry Insider Wants You to Know for Your PCS (with Katie McMichael)

PCS With Military.com What a Moving Industry Insider Wants You to Know for Your PCS (with Katie McMichael)

It’s easy to feel nervous about the entire military Permanent Change of Station (PCS) process when every step seems packed with risk that your belongings will be lost, broken or stolen. But have you ever stopped to hear from the people who have an insider view on the moving industry?

In this episode of PCS with Military.com, moving industry representative Katie McMichael offers a window into how the industry operates, the best way for military families to work with the people hired to pack and move their belongings and what military members and families need to know about this peak PCS season.

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The following is an edited transcript of this episode of PCS with Military.com.

Amy Bushatz: Any move, military or not is a complicated combination of a lot of moving pieces. And you're probably well familiar with the ones that you face on the military side. But if you're moving with a company packing and shipping your goods, the Defense Department and the military services only work as a go- between to orchestrate parts of your move.

The rest is done through services hired by the DoD for you from throughout the United States. And like so many things, each of those services relies on its own complicated network, a smooth move assumes all of the steps and stages are working. Like they're supposed to here at PCS with Military.com we believe that knowledge is power.

What if you could have insight into the parts of your move you don't often consider the challenges as well as tips and tricks for facing them. Today's guest, Katie McMichael is going to offer us some of that insight. She's with the American Trucking Association's Moving and Storage Conference, which means her expertise is in a non- DoD parts of your move, the moving itself, and the getting your goods to you on time.

We're so grateful she's here to give us her insight. Katie, welcome to PCS with Military.com.

Katie McMichael: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Amy Bushatz: It's so wonderful to hear from the non DoD side on this, and I'm really excited to just pick your brain a little bit and get the inside scoop on what's going on. So, thank you.

So. We start by asking all of our guests how many times they have moved with, or without the military, if they're a military family member sorta like, Hey, what's your street cred. So how many times have you moved with or without the military?

Katie McMichael: So without the military, I've moved, I want to at least five times, and I am kind of one of those consumers, I want to say that grew up to moving. So, coming out of college, it was the 'hey, everything fits in the back of my car. I'm moving down the street' and then graduated into now we're renting a U haul to move our things, to finally actually hiring movers, which, you know once I used a mover for the first time, I kicked myself for not doing it in the past because it does make it so much easier than doing it yourself.

Amy Bushatz: Oh my goodness. When that's an option, it certainly is fantastic. It isn't always these days. So, but we'll get to that. Especially for our military families, but you know, isn't that like the peak adulting right there, that's just the trajectory everybody goes into for adulting. It's like your taxes, right? Maybe you have somebody does them now for you, but you started by doing them out of the back of your truck, sort of, you know.

Katie McMichael: It really, it honestly did feel that way. When you have movers come and pack your things and move them, into your new house. I mean, there was a little part of me that felt old and like, I couldn't believe I was adult enough and old enough to actually have hired movers. So definitely get that.

Amy Bushatz: Talk to us about the American Trucking Association's Moving and Storage Conference. We were joking earlier. That's a mouthful. So we're going to need to know what it is. And what does it do and what do you do there?

Katie McMichael: Yeah. So the Moving and Storage Conference at ATA, we are somewhat new.

We used to be the American Moving and Storage Association, and a lot of our members realize that we have so much crossover in terms of issues with just the trucking industry as a whole. And aTA has these great things they're called Conferences, and what they deal with is specific segments of trucking that are a little more specialized and moving and storage is one of those.

So our association joined forces with ATA and formed the Moving and Storage Conference. And our goal, 30,000 foot level, is really based on advocacy. So we like to educate lawmakers. We work with DOT Department of Defense, obviously on, the DP3 program. And our goal is to really, you know, how do we identify, either things that are going well in the industry or issues and problems, and how do we address them? How do we fix them and how do we kind of bring, you know, help the moving industry stay healthy and thrive.

Amy Bushatz: So two questions: who are your members and define the DT, the D the three I'm like, I know what it means, and I need you to define it for me.

Katie McMichael: Yes. So our, so we represent asset-based moving companies, so we represent the moving companies that have the trucks.. They come to your house, they bring their crews, they pack up your things. So we have almost 2000 members right now of moving companies. Again, these are the guys that, they do everything from A to Z. And a large portion of them participate in the DP3 program or Defense Personal Property Program.

And our association, we actually have a specific committee within the organization that is just dedicated towards military moving and, okay, what are the problems that we're seeing? How do we fix them? We work with USTRANSCOM. We try and work with the service branches to really, work together, to find solutions to some of the common problems that I'm sure you've experienced in the move process that the DoD runs.

Amy Bushatz: Got it. And I'm just like from a 3000 foot level, that Defense Personal Property of you just alluded to it is run by the us transportation command. That's the overseeing section of the military. So guys, when you hear us refer to Defense Personal Property, that's part of TRANSCOM, just so you know, so if we start dropping those acronyms, like, you're picking up what we're laying down, cause I know acronyms can sort of lead one into the wilderness.

Katie McMichael: Especially in the military arena. When I first started at AMSA. And I was just barely kind of dipping my toe in the DP3 stuff, a coworker gave me a 25 page packet and all it was acronyms and what they meant. And he was like, you better memorize this. If you're going to sit in on these meetings and he wasn't wrong, then yeah. There's an acronym for everything.

Amy Bushatz: And I have been doing this for longer than I'm going to admit, and I still need a little acronym cheat sheet sometimes. So the struggle is real.

So it's absolutely no secret that military moves have been a huge challenge, well, they're always a big challenge, but they've been a huge challenge over the last several years. Can you give us an picture from an industry standpoint of why that is? What's happening out there?

Katie McMichael: Sure there are a couple of contributing factors that some are specific to our industry and then some is just trucking in general. I think one of the largest challenges we have is drivers. There is a driver shortage out there. I think the ATA estimates we're about 60,000 drivers short.

Amy Bushatz: So how many drivers is full strength?

Katie McMichael: It totally depends on the size of your company. And I think

Amy Bushatz: Like nationwide, if you're 60,000 drivers short, what is the goal?,

Katie McMichael: I'll be honest. I don't know what the goal is. Off the top of my head, I think the goal is that companies say, hey, we don't need , we're not sure drivers. So I don't know what the target, off the top of my head I don't know what the target number is.

Amy Bushatz: So you're saying that companies are saying, hey, individual companies are saying, Hey, we're short X number of drivers and that number adds up to 60,000.

Katie McMichael: Yeah, that's what we're tracking right now. So the biggest problem is just, there's not enough drivers for the demand and, as consumers, and when you look at a, again from a pretty holistic level, we do a lot of things online now. We're not, you're not running too you're not running down the street to Sears to get your clothes, probably like you used to do.

Amy Bushatz: No one's running down the street to Sears.

Katie McMichael: No one's even going no, one's even going to, CVS half the time to pick up your stuff. So there's just in general, the demand for truck drivers has gone up as we've all gotten used to ordering things online. And I think truck driving in general, as a profession has lost a little bit of, you know, maybe the respect that it got, maybe back in like the eighties. Quite frankly the respect it deserves. It doesn't get enough respect for how hard it is. So the driver shortage, I would say is probably one of the biggest contributing factors to why it's why the PCS seasons are getting tougher and tougher.

And it's because moving companies just they don't have the capacity to fulfill the amount of moves that are happening. And especially when you look at peak season, which is very compressed, that gets even harder. So the driver shortage is a big challenge and then specific to the moving industry, even what's becoming quite frankly, more of an issue for moving is finding the guys that are going to come to your house that are going to pack up your things, they're going to lift them, right? It's the heat of summer. It is a hard job to do. It is not easy. So industry really struggles. We struggle finding drivers, but then when you go to get crews, that's a challenge because when you look at the skilled manual labor, because that's what they fall into. I think, you as somebody who is PCSed you don't want anybody that just walks off the street, right?

Amy Bushatz: That's a big problem.

Katie McMichael: Yeah, you want to these guys need to be background checked and most companies will train them. They will train you to, hey, we're moving this dresser. How do we pad this correctly? We're going at home. How do we, how do we train these guys to, interact with the customer? We don't want to, we don't want to scratch walls. We don't want to scratch their floors. And that's something too, I think that is under- appreciated in the moving industry is, there's some times that, oh, you just got to find manual labor.

It's not that easy. These, you know, you have to find manual labor that can pass background checks and they also have to be trained. Because a moving company does not want to consumers goods to break or be dented. Nobody wants claims at the end, the consumer, the customer doesn't want it. The movers don't want it.

So we have this added challenge of you know, you're finding this manual labor, but it needs to be of a higher skill than say somebody that maybe just works in a warehouse or is mowing your lawn. Or, and again, it's nothing against those types of professions. It is, it's just, we need, the moving companies need a little bit higher caliber. And I think sometimes that gets forgotten when we talk about just labor challenges.

Amy Bushatz: Right, okay, like from the very basic, like, you have to be able to lift stuff, which not everyone can do, I'm, you don't see me moving my own beds and I'm pretty strong. Also I will add, we have moved ourselves, just across town, but I don't think it, I don't think the distance when you move yourself particularly matters for this point, which is we broke our own stuff and I would not have bet on that before we packed it. Like I was like, I'm going to be fine. We're being careful. It's my own stuff. I'm wrapping it well. No 100% broke my own stuff. Not hugely, but enough that I sort of had that moment where I was like, oh.

Katie McMichael: Yeah, cause I mean, you wouldn't think of it. You just don't, and even me, and that's where like me coming, I kind of came into this industry first as a customer, a very uneducated customer. And then when you see behind the scenes, They train guys, okay. If you have a box of dishes, this is how you down to this is how you should wrap a glass or wrap a plate. There is people that put a lot of thought into best practices for packing just about any item in your home to try and limit that damage.

So it is pretty impressive. When you look at it from the other side, it is pretty impressive, how much they can do and not break it.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah, no I completely, I can completely see that. But on the flip side, it's exactly what you're saying. It's hard to find people to be doing that. So now you must have people, like you can't just not show up. And so then you're hiring people who maybe haven't been trained or who maybe are not taking the kind of care that other people, if there was lots of people who really cared available, would be. And so now we have a lot of breakage and this sort of frustrating experience as the consumer or the person being moved. Where you don't see the challenges that got to this point. All you see is the stress you're under and the people who are in your house. And so now you're frustrated because you're like, who are these guys or women where did they come from and why are they being allowed to be here?

Katie McMichael: Yeah. It's moving, it's just a stressful time for everybody. And I think when you add these labor challenges, especially now you can make $20, $25 an hour working in a warehouse it's air conditioned. So you know, the people that make a career out of being a crew leader or a driver in the industry, they do take pride in their work, but you just hit that peak season where everybody's slammed. We're now short people. So you have more jobs to do in a smaller amount of time because we don't have as many people as we used to have. And I think from a customer standpoint, industry understands, you could have, you could send out the President of the United States to come pack your things. It's still a stressful process and you're still not going to be happy during it.

And you know, and everybody understands that it's just, it's not, it's unfortunate that you know moving and storage companies are in the business of helping people just during a really hard time.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. I think if the President of the United States, no matter who that individual is, showed up to pack my house, I would be confused.

Katie McMichael: Right.

Amy Bushatz: So was the labor shortage, like this labor problem? You know, we hear a lot about labor problems after 2020 COVID stuff. And in this particular time. Was this a problem before that has it been sort of trickling in or is it just like bam now.

Katie McMichael: Yeah. So it was a problem before COVID, but I would say COVID really exasperated it. I think that it COVID was sort of like this lit match where, there was all the, there was all the shutdown orders. So a lot of the people that were in the industry during that time, they found other things to do. And they're not coming back into the moving and storage industry because they've found a new career or some, you know, whatever it is.

So it just has, we're now having to recruit new people. You're trying to get, your, the old labor back. I think COVID just, it really made it a challenge because you lost a lot of people to other industries during that time, and it's a competitive market just to find labor. I mean, every time you turn on the news, people are, companies are all saying, it's so hard to find people.

Amy Bushatz: So we're talking about shortage of people doing the packing loading, shortage of actual truck drivers. And we're talking about these challenges. Okay. So this has caused a lot of frustration. We've got that. But let's talk about what's happening behind the scenes, maybe to mitigate this as much as one can. So what's going on to address these problems?

Katie McMichael: Yeah. So our conference, so ATA as a whole organization, which we're part of they're doing a ton on driver recruitment driver training. We're really looking hard at apprenticeship programs. So we're having to, how do we figure out how, how do we figure out how to get kids coming out of high school or even after high school, to want to be truck drivers? So it's a lot of, I think, recruitment efforts right now. Again, like I said, apprenticeships, recruiting kids out of high school, getting people in early to realize you can actually make a really good living in this industry. If you stick with it and go through the training.

So that is where a lot of the efforts are. And finding ways to streamline the process, make it easier to be a truck driver. So getting, not lowering the standards to be a truck driver, but there are ways to make it, easier, not as much red tape, things like that. So I, as a whole, working with Congress, working with DOT to try and identify those avenues, and then just as an association, as a whole is promoting the career.

And that's just a big part of it is just promoting it to people. And I think specifically to household goods, there's a lot of truck drivers that don't want to get into household goods because I can drive freight and I can just drive door to door and run the same route. I can live here in Virginia and I can do Virginia to San Diego, twice a month. And I know where I'm driving. I don't have to get out of my truck and it's nice and easy.

And they say, I don't want to do household goods because getting into household goods means I have to run a crew. It's not just me now. I have to supervise a crew of guys. I have to go into a home. There's a lot of paperwork involved with household good moves. I have to have customer service skills because I'm now dealing with a family that's moving in a stressful situation. I have to make sure that all of the goods are packed, that we're not denting up the house, that things aren't breaking. So that's an added challenge for, to find household goods drivers. Because you're not just sitting in a truck, I'm driving from point A to point B. And it's irregular route. You could be going anywhere, you don't know where you're going next week because it depends on where's the person moving to. But I've also, I think for a lot of people, that's actually everything I just mentioned is can be really enticing to the right person because maybe somebody just find, maybe there's people out there that say, I don't want to be a truck driver because it's boring. Household goods is a perfect place to come. You're not driving the same, you're not driving down the same highway two or three times a month.

You get to go to new places. You get to see new places. You could be going anywhere in the country any day. You get to interact more so than a regular truck driver. You're talking to consumers, you get to be more of a business person as a truck driver, you're running a crew you're finding ways to improve your process.

So I think some of the things that people view as downsides to being a household good driver or labor for the right people, I think it's very enticing for them because it's a little bit more exciting. So, you know, we just are trying to focus on how do we get that story and that message to the right people that would be interested in that.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. Yeah. So talk to us then about this because that sounds like a really long game, which is great. becuase that's necessary too. But talk to us about the upcoming season. What is your forecast for 2022's moving season? What do people need to know?

Katie McMichael: Yes. So the challenges that industry had and faced last year with just this extreme labor and driver shortage, we predict to be the same this peak season.

So the biggest thing that we are trying to do right now is set proper expectations with TRANSCOM and with the customers. It's not probably going to be feasible to move on the exact day that you want, especially when you look at May, June, July. So setting the proper expectations of this whole process door to door is going to take longer.

And to the extent that people are able to push their move dates, towards August, September, October, doing that now, and being proactive about realistically planning your move benefits everybody. So, the best thing we can do in the immediate future, especially for this peak season is set proper expectations that we just don't have the capacity to move everybody in that squeeze compressed timeframe. So to the extent people can just adequately plan for that and just understand, it's just going to take a little bit longer.

Amy Bushatz: There are so many challenges to that. Like I'm thinking of all the counter-challenges to just being flexible, right, that are not in the customer's control. Like my orders came today and I have to be there tomorrow. What I think I noticed that was really unique about last year was the experience people are having that not only could they not move in the zone in the timeframe that was ideal. So I'm like, oh you know, I want to move on a Saturday. Not only was that not happening, but people were finding out last minute that they had to pack and move themselves, that the movers that they thought they had scheduled, or that they we're told would be scheduled were not in fact scheduled. Or that there was no mover available within quite a large buffer of, I have orders for a month and a half from now, and there are no movers available. So th that was hard in particular, because one that sounds terrible. And two, because it was unexpected, right?

So the military community is used to being under a lot of stress, although we don't love that. Um, and we're used to being very resilient, even though that word is overused, and flexible and moving with the flow of whatever that is. The challenge with last year, I think, more than anything else was that those things were surprises.

So with that said, are you saying that you expect that kind of challenge again this year? So just to the people can be prepared?

Katie McMichael: Yes, I would say that challenge will likely exist. And the main reason that challenge challenge exists is most- and I will say this, there is not a single transportation service provider that participates in the program that enjoys when this problem happens.

As much as it pains the customer, it really does also pain the moving company. So, and that's something I really want the customer to understand is that nobody is trying to do this intentionally. This is as much of a pain point for you all as it is for industry. But one of the reasons that the specific problem that you mentioned, is prevalent is most of the drivers that moving companies use, not all, but a very large percentage ,are what we call independent contractors.

So they're truck drivers, they have their own business. So a moving company- and the reason there are a lot of independent contractors in this industry is because of that irregular route that we just sort of talked about. You're not staying in the same place, you're going different routes. So, and you're also having to run a crew.

So these independent contractors, they have their own networks of crews. And it's just kind of how the lifestyle works .So moving companies, what they faced a lot last year is, all it takes, it's kind of a domino effect, all it takes is for one move, something to happen, to affect the rest of the summer.

So right at an independent contractor, they're moving somebody, something happens and they call the company and say, Hey, I know I was supposed to be picking up this person in two days. I'm just telling you, I can't, you know, something has happened. I'm not going to be there for three, or I'm going to be late by a week.

So then that impacts the next person's move, which impacts the next. So once you, it only really takes one unforeseen problem. And then that driver, every job that the company has booked, and they booked these jobs in, the spring for the summer and every everything's set up. So when a moving company accepts this job, it's not that they don't necessarily have a driver or an agent ready to come out there, but it's these last minute challenges where say, John Smith calls, moving company a and says, okay, I'm going to be late. In a normal scenario where you don't have a driver and labor challenges, you probably have a list of five or six other people you can call to fill in for him. And that's what we're lacking now is we don't have the bench of backup people to be able to call to, to step in and fill that because we have such a driver and labor challenge.

So, we don't want that to happen. That is never the intention, but you know, for any customers this summer just know that, it may happen and companies really do, they really are doing everything they can to find somebody to cover the shipment. And they're also just not gonna send anybody off the street to cover your shipment, because it would be worse to have a move that is done on time, but has done really poorly. Versus, you know, maybe just waiting a couple of days to get a crew out there that's trained.

Amy Bushatz: Do you recommend then that people just plan to move themselves? Like just, there's more than enough moves to go around to the drivers that exist. So if you want to move yourself, go for it. Is that what you're suggesting?

Katie McMichael: That's such a, that's really a personal preference. I think. I would never, the DP3, it is a good program. I think when you look at there were problems this year, but when I think you look at, I think majority of the moves did go well, it's just that majority, it just, that amount that didn't go well was larger this past year than a normal year.

So I would never like tell somebody just move yourself, just plan on doing that. It's just that the problems in a normal year, they're just a little bit they're bigger last year and it'll probably be the same this year. Okay. I think the best things is just going into the move process. Just with an understanding that there's a lot of challenges this year. If you happen, if something happens to, impact your move, just communicate with your mover as much as you can, they can walk you through options and every moving company that I work with will, will try to find some solution to help you out. So it's more of just a kind of mentally preparing yourself that this is what industry is facing and we want the moves to go well. And we, it's likely your move probably will, but just an understanding that, that, the clump of moves that had issues, it's just a little bit bigger than what it used to be.

Amy Bushatz: Yeah. So it takes two to tango the cliche. What should the Pentagon be doing to help with this problem that maybe isn't happening? I, like drivers shortages that this domino effect all at least now, especially since we've seen how they go, all of those things are predictable. What is TRANSCOM doing or not doing to help with this that you may think they should be from the industry standpoint.

Katie McMichael: Yeah. You kind of touched on it a little bit earlier, but I think a big part of this is with something we call demand smoothing. And you mentioned earlier, right? That you get your orders and you have to be there at this time. So we have really encouraged the services to be very intentional with giving their orders. So we understand a lot of this is driven by the school system. So if you have kids, you don't want to be moving during the school year.

So finding proactive ways to maybe identify people that don't have dependents. That maybe you could give them orders so that they, you know, they're moving in December or January or February, then when the demand isn't high. And then that kind of takes it out of the summer months. So demands smoothing is something, I think that industry has always really encouraged DoD to look at and be a little more intentional with. We've been working with TRANSCOM and quite honestly, they've been really great these past couple months and preparing for this. We've just been talking to them about a lot of just let's do a better job of educating the customers this season on the challenges and what to expect and things like that.

So really trying to focus on better communication and just better prepping for setting proper expectations. Because that just takes a lot of the friction out of the process and that's what we would really like to see removed.

Amy Bushatz: That makes a lot of sense. You know you mentioned earlier getting creative a little bit we know best is the mother of invention. One thing that's had a lot of discussion around it in the past is adding like the industry adding, tracking to all shipments. Some companies do that. Some companies don't, but now some families are doing it themselves by dropping in an Apple Air Tag, which basically, if you don't know what that is listeners, functions as a tracking device.

And they put it in their household goods. And of course this is not brand new that people are doing things like this. There are lots of tools out there that are similar to Air Tags, but it's gotten a lot of attention recently. So what do you think about that practice? Is that something you recommend? What is the industry think about that practice? Give us the scoop.

Katie McMichael: Yeah, so that has, it's definitely been kind of the buzz. We saw all the reports and the one thing that just really struck me as you start seeing, you hear the story and you start seeing this increase in, hey, like, let's do something like this is, I think the Air Tag situation is a symptom of a larger problem, which is just there needs to be better communication and that, you know what it's like, what is driving people to feel that they need to put an Apple Air Tag in their shipment to track it. And when you're reading the reports and you're hearing some of the things that you know, some in the military families are saying, it's just, I, I want to know where my things are. You know, It's been a while. I'm not sure when they're coming. It's, there's some anxiety around that, which is very understandable. It's your life's goods. You're going to want to know where they are and what's going on with your shipment, but it kind of boils back to something that industry has identified and that they're working on improving on.

And I know a lot of companies have, been talking about this, especially after last season on improving this season, is just better communication to the service member. A service member should obviously moving is stressful. But a service member we want them to feel comfortable that when that truck driver drives away, we want them to feel comfortable that their goods are being taken care of and that they are going to be at their destination on whatever the date is.

So there's a, I think breakdown in communication and a little bit a breakdown in trust, which again, for some, there are people out there that they've had bad experiences, and I don't want to discount that at all. But I think on industry, on the industry side, we're really working on improving communication with the customer so they feel at ease, so that they don't feel stressed so that they don't feel that, they would need to take measures like these to ensure that their goods are being taken care of. We, industry does not want customers to feel that way. And if customers do feel that way, and maybe as a result of how challenging last season was, we need to do a better job of communicating this season, so that, that stress isn't there. You know, because tracking shipments, like you said, some companies have the technology. Some do not, it sounds, I think we're used to kind of Amazon where, okay. I can open my Amazon app and see exactly where the truck is. And it's pretty nifty technology, but going back to some of the things we touched on earlier, we're not the logistics of our industry is not regular route.

When you look at the efficiency of getting shipments moved, it's not like an, it is not like a, an Amazon package where it leaves the warehouse. There's, a hundred packages in the back of the truck. And all the guy has to do is walk around and throw the stuff on the front porch and leave.

Nobody wants their household goods just throw it on the front porch. Right, that's that is not ideal. And moving companies work with each other so much. It's really funny for how competitive the moving industry is, they work with each other so much, especially during peak season to get, especially military family stuff moved.

They're calling their competitors, they're working with their competitors, say, Hey, can you help me with this? Can you take this shipment, can you do this? They really do collaborate with each other. It also leads to some obstacles with kind of tracking with each other because if one company's using one system, but the other company isn't, how to, and they are, taking part of the shipment from, for a certain leg of it. How do you as a customer, you're not going to be able to, you can't track it the whole way, unless it's one system that everyone in the country is using.

Amy Bushatz: Thus the Air Tag. That's the whole idea.

Katie McMichael: Yeah. So the Air Tag you know, people put it in there, but even there's challenges, you know, with things like ear tags, because they only work within a radius of the Apple network. So. What happens, you know, if a customer is looking and it's, you know, you're driving through the middle of nowhere in Colorado and the driver has an Android, it's not going to show up.

So that's sort of why, when you take a step back from the frenzy of that story, I think, and look at the real issue it's customers are feeling stressed about their shipments once they leave the house. So how do we as an industry work on alleviating that stress. So customers are feeling much more comfortable during the process.

And I think a lot of that goes back to finding ways to improve communication with the customer. So that they're getting updates on what's happening with their shipment and setting proper expectations from the outset so that everybody is sort of on the same page more. So I think that sort of when you look at the problem is think the Air Tags are just a symptom of a greater problem that industry I can say is really working very hard to improve upon for this upcoming peak season.

Amy Bushatz: We like to be really practical and this whole conversation has been very practical, but I'm hoping you can give us some tips and tricks for people getting ready to face this upcoming season. And who are going to be working through move in 2022. What do you recommend in terms of tools or even things to know when working with their movers or getting ready, physically practically ready or mentally strong. Give us just a couple of tips if you don't mind.

Katie McMichael: Yeah, sure. I mean One thing we always stress is as soon as you get the orders, the sooner you go down to your transportation office and, put in your request for moving the better it is. Don't wait get on that process.

As soon as you get your order. You know, the next day start talking about, okay, I'm going to a transportation office and we're going to start getting this plan. That is a, that is really I think an undervalued tip is, don't wait until the last minute to start going through this process.

The sooner you can put your orders in, because what that does is it helps industry then plan for the demand, if we know. The sooner this happens, then industry can say, okay, it's looking like I'm going to need X amount of people during this week or this month.

So that's a really, I think practical tip that just helps everybody. And then, also in addition moving is stressful. So, you know, just, I think mentally preparing yourself that we're all on the same team.

Again, I can tell you movers, they do not want you guys to have a bad time. They legitimately do not. They really care about the customer. They really care about this going smoothly. So I think one thing we would love to see a little bit more of is just, it's not it's not a moving company versus the customer.

Like we can just be in the mindset of we're all in the same team to get this fixed. I think that just makes the process mentally less agitating and if somebody and you can always reach out to me if a mover's mean to you and I will call them, but shouldn't have had that problem.

Well, yeah, just from practical stuff, we always encourage people, if you have, once you know you're moving, go through your home and find things that you know are like your valuables or anything that's like priceless. We always and this is something we recommend outside of even DoD this is just good practice for if you're moving period is take those priceless items or valuables. And to the extent you can put them in your trunk or in your car, we always encourage people to take them with you, because that also alleviates stress too, because the things that mean the most to you are then already with you, they're not in the back of a truck. So that takes away some of the stress too. If you have your most valuable possessions with you, I know that's not always possible, but if it is that is, you'd be surprised how much mentally that takes off of you when you're worrying about your shipment.

Amy Bushatz: Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. And going back to the trust piece that you just mentioned, I think that's the tiny problem with the Air Tag thing. I am, listen, I love tracking things. I wear two running watches when I run, over the top. Okay with tracking for like my life and in general. So I completely am one of those people who had put an Air Tag in something. It is tempting to put an Air Tag in your stuff because you don't trust the person there.

And if you're going in to this situation and having movers in your home and all and putting yourself on a truck, under this attitude, I don't trust this process at all, and I am highly suspicious of all this people, these people that's a whole vide. And I think that there's something to be said for being careful, and you can use trackers like that, but not having that attitude of that y'all are out to get me. And it's, cause it's a balance. Like there's nothing wrong with wanting to track your stuff or know where your stuff is. But what isn't going to do, anyone, any favors is going into this process with an attitude of everyone's out to get me so I need to cover my butt.

Katie McMichael: Yeah. And too, if you make the decision, Hey, you know, I think I do want to, put something in here, you know, you can be upfront with your TSP about it. Say, hey I just, I have some anxiety over this move. I, you know, dropped an Air Tag in here. Movers are, they're obviously not licensed therapists, but you know, they're experts in this and they can help with that. And if you're at the point where you feel the need to do something like that and you see something and you're like this, you know, I just have questions, always call your TSP because having that one point of contact makes it, and that's something that was an effort I think that TRANSCOM it might've been a little bit before I stepped into this role, but I know TRANSCOM, you know, they really say, okay, there's, you know, we want to go to one point of contact for the move, because it's so confusing for customers because there's all these people involved and there's all these phone numbers and shows up, there's a driver, then there's the agent. And there's the TSP. So there was this effort to go towards, okay, there's one point of contact. And I do think that makes things go smoother. So if there is, if you notice something, call your TSP and say, hey I feel like there might be a problem here. I need you to look into this, let them do that for you.

You should not have to, as a customer, you shouldn't have to do that. So, let them be the one to work with the driver that they contracted out with. Put that onus on them. That's what they're there for. That can also just, again, take some of that stress and anxiety off of the, you know, consumer.

Amy Bushatz: Hmm, that's a, that's great advice. Katie, you've had a lot of really insightful things to say to us today about the trucking industry and sort of that inside scoop we were looking for from you earlier. And I just, I really appreciate your time and, and your clarity in this conversation. So thank you so much for joining us on PCS with Military.com.

Katie McMichael: Thank you.

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