Doug Whyte, managing director at Aberdeen-headquartered subsea cable and connector specialist Hydro Group, discusses the importance of investing time and effort into educating global partners on your company’s offering, outlook and ethos, to ensure standards are maintained and successful results are achieved when moving into international regions.
Businesses are constantly looking to grow and diversify into new regions and areas, with a recent study, carried out by Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of the Bank of Scotland, reporting that a quarter of U.K. oil and gas companies have managed to actually grow during the downturn by diversifying into new areas and by adopting new technology, and two-thirds have made international expansion plans. An ethos and ambition that Hydro Group has followed for the past three decades.
However, to ensure successful results are achieved when crossing international borders, companies need to invest in educating global representatives.
Collaborating with global business partners and having an on-the-ground presence in an overseas region can help a company gain that essential competitive edge, and significantly support with developing client relationships.
It is important that, when a company moves into foreign regions, it retains business consistency and compliance over international borders, with the people employed to head up and promote a new division being proficient in company messaging and best practices from existing offices.
Having an international agent can help to expand your global portfolio and reach, and employing a local showcases your genuine ethical investment in a region. However, you must ensure they are adept in your company’s offering, ethos and outlook, and are portraying your messages in an accurate and representative manner. A mutual understanding of business culture is also essential.
This requires you to invest time and effort in training and communicating with your agents, so the company delivers a consistent service and quality product globally. Failing to do this could be detrimental to the entire investment, and lead to your company to being portrayed in an inaccurate and potentially damaging way.
At Hydro Group plc we recognize the importance in investing in local agents who are in tune with the language and culture of the region, having formed our Singapore based division Hydro Group Asia in 2013 as part of international expansion plans, which now has a staff of five and an annual increase of sales in the region of over £1.5million.
We know the benefit of having on the ground support in global locations, and of the importance in investing in making sure our business partners are conveying our products and services accurately.
Following our recent announcement of multiple new business partner agreements across the Asia Pacific region, allowing us to increase efficiency and ensure regular interaction with our customers as we continue to grow in the area, we invited nine of our new and established global representatives over to our facilities for a business partners forum.
With an investment of £2million in a new 13,700 sq ft bespoke facility earlier this year, business partners from Taiwan, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, France and America all visited our recently expanded headquarters to see and hear about the company’s activity, growth and future plans – information they were able to take back with them to share further.
Inviting agents and representatives to your office, manufacturing facilities or workshop to meet and feel part of the team, and see and understand first-hand the company’s offering and growth plans, can help inform and ensure the messages they convey when they return to their regions are on point. Resulting in the best business outcome all round.
Forums such as this can also lead to additional collaborations, with the agents having the opportunity to meet face-to-face to discuss potential business ventures – further benefiting the future of the industry.
Global expansion is key to ensure a company grows and evolves with the times and, as well as providing employment for locals, training up regionally based individuals and teams helps to develop staff equipped with your company’s skills and knowledge, resulting in company standards being retained.
Doug Whyte is managing director at Hydro Group, plc.