Behind the Scenes of a Domestic Military PCS

Moving is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. This is especially true for a military family – even though you’ve likely moved many times, it’s always difficult to know what to expect.

In our 100 years of moving people and their families, and 70 years of facilitating military moves, we’ve learned that even military members who have PCS’d many times over the years don’t truly know what goes on behind the scenes of their move. Military moves are more complicated than civilian moves and require a high level of expertise in both the moving industry as a whole, and the military system.

That necessary expertise is why Suddath’s Government Services employees, many of them veterans or military spouses themselves, work closely with the Department of Defense to coordinate with agents in your local area to service your PCS move.

Let’s start at the beginning, with one of the first questions we hear.

What is a TSP (Transportation Service Provider)?

This is probably the biggest disconnect we see with military moves. Even people who have moved many times don’t truly understand their TSP’s role. It’s totally understandable – military moves are complicated, and there is a lot to deal with on the member’s end.

Ideally, you will never even need to know the difference. But when the move isn’t ideal, it can really help to know the role of each person or party involved.

At a high level, your TSP is mission control. They are not physically handling the move but dealing with the complicated logistics of a military move.

This means coordinating a network of thousands of agents all across the country to execute your move. For military moves, move management or coordination companies are required to work exclusively with Department of Defense-approved agents or service providers that fit within certain government standards.

In a typical move, the types of agents a TSP coordinates with includes:

  • An Origin Agent
  • A Hauling Agent
  • Destination agent
  • And any third-parties needed to handle any specialty items

What happens once my move is assigned to a TSP?

When someone is assigned to Suddath® as their TSP, our team begins by assigning the packing and origin services to one of our high-quality DOD-approved origin agents within your local area. They in turn, should schedule your pre-move survey, advise us of the details and ensure they have adequate material and labor for your pack out.

A common misconception about moving from state to state is that your shipment will travel directly to your new destination. In reality, your shipment will be loaded on to a truck with other families’ who the interstate hauling agent is also servicing.

Since this is an agent, and not an employee of your TSP, the other shipments may or may not be Suddath-assigned moves. However, a Suddath operations coordinator works with the hauling agent for the soonest possible delivery to your new destination home.

We ask for flexibility in your delivery date, as there are many elements beyond our control that can impact the planned schedules, including:

  • The nationwide driver’s shortage which has been well publicized in the national and military-focused media.
  • Recently implemented federal regulations that restrict drivers daily hours of service. This limits the amount of time they’re allowed to be on the road.
  • If you reside on base, access can be problematic as wait times at the service gate can often be two hours or more. Anyone entering will be given an on-the-spot background check, which causes the long wait, especially during peak moving season. It can also cause a driver to meet their limit for daily hours of service – for example, if they only have an hour of time left, but the gate wait time is two hours, they will have to return the next day.
  • And finally, local agent capacity, especially in peak season can reach saturation levels in May, June and even July. In smaller military communities, there may only be one or two DOD-approved agents who are handling a large amount of shipments at one time.

What do I need to bring with me on my PCS?

Remember, in the instance that a delay may occur for any of the above reasons, you should always bring important items with you, such as medication, important documentation, uniforms and some additional clothing.

Another question we get a lot is, why hasn’t my delivery been scheduled yet?

We cannot schedule delivery until we have verified that your shipment has arrived at the destination warehouse. Because it is likely arriving from a different agent, the destination agent will not schedule a delivery until your shipment is physically in their possession.

This is for a few reasons, but mainly because it’s possible that the destination agent can change while your driver is en route, due to daily capacity restrictions at the originally scheduled warehouse. If your originally scheduled warehouse is experiencing capacity issues, we would reroute to a warehouse that would have a better ability to deliver your goods in a timely manner.

Your flexibility and feedback are important

We are constantly evaluating the quality and performance of DOD-approved agents. That’s why we rely on our military customers to be our eyes and ears – your feedback is vital to helping things run smoothly. By working with your move coordinator to make us aware of quality issues, we can address them head-on and provide the type of relocation management services all our customers deserve.

And finally, we ask for your flexibility. We know moving is a very stressful and personal experience, but we are required to work within the military business rules for the household goods program and many times, those rules limit what we can do or how we do it. Read more about the rules and restrictions.

Rest assured knowing that our professionals will do everything possible to accommodate your needs within the rules of the program.

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