Sarah Cole, Managing Director of Universal Commercial Relocation, was interviewed by Colin Wyatt, who hosts the Moving Matters Podcast.
In the interview, Sarah discusses how she became involved in the industry only 20 years ago (next year) after leaving her role as a commercial property specialist within the legal profession to start a family.
Universal, formed in 1978 by Sarah’s father is a 2nd generation commercial moving specialist based in Greenford, Greater London, servicing mainly the London area, with a fulltime staff of approximately 25 and running a fleet of 8 vehicles.
Sarah also discussed her role as Managing Director of ISS (Information Storage Solutions), the document archiving side of the business which was started by Sarah’s mother (Margaret) in 1986.
During the interview, Sarah provided insights into how much she enjoyed working in what is predominantly a male dominated industry and has never found any challenges with that. Sarah has found that there are a lot of women within management roles of organisations but would encourage more to get involved with the BAR initiatives.
Working from home was discussed and how it has and continues to affect the commercial relocation industry and Sarah highlights that even before the pandemic companies were looking at the office space occupied and how they were using it, from a productivity, wellbeing, and a sustainability point of view, but it was such a huge and risky ask to undertake the stress test. However, the pandemic became that stress test and forced people overnight to work from home and leave the office behind. Sarah believes the future is with companies ultimately having a hybrid solution, shrinking the physical space but keeping separate office space for staff to participate in, but affording staff more flexibility about how to undertake their work.
Sarah provides an insight into Universal’s many accreditations which she believes is fundamental to business because office moving is business critical and the accreditations helps the client to manage the risk.
The interview discussed Sarah’s challenges to date and the desire to always move with your client needs and to look ahead at where things are heading, as Universal always try to add value to their clients whilst supporting them.
One of Sarah’s highpoint, which was back in 2015 was when Universal were awarded the British Association of Removers Commercial Mover of The Year (CmoTY) for the first time (having been a finalist twice before), and especially so as the awared was presented at conference (BAR) in the city in which her parents were from, Belfast. Subsequently Universal have won the BAR CMoTY Award on another two occasions in 2017 and 2019, recognition of the quality of service Universal is founded on and the huge contribution to the company made by staff.
We discover that the one change Sarah would make to the industry is to raise our profile, selling our services better and making clients aware how specialist we are and the professionalism we bring, as she believes as an industry, we undersell ourselves and there is often a race to the bottom in terms of pricing.
The interview concludes with a funny moving story regarding Margaret Thatcher and a union card!
The recording of the interview with Colin Wyatt, Moving Matters with Sarah Cole of Universal Commercial Relocation can be listened to on The Moving Matters webpage