Guest Blog - Quadbeam Technologies -  How to Export from New Zealand

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Quadbeam Technologies is a small manufacturer of specialised Electronic Instrumentation, producing feature packed Suspended Solids Sensors and Turbidity Meters with a focus predominantly on the Dairy, Food and Beverage and Mining Markets.  Over 80% of our revenue is export.

Being a very small exporter from New Zealand can be challenging, but equally, rewarding.  Many of the key and successful things I learnt from being part of a successful team in a medium sized polymer component export business have been directly attributable to a small technical instrumentation exporter.

A few tips that I have found important with the on-going development of export markets:

 

Reduce Time and Distance.

Even in the “Internet Age” a common objection, not always discussed openly by customers, is “how easy is it really going to be dealing with NZ?”.   This is especially important in the USA, but also important in most other markets. Reducing the challenge of time zone and distance when operating from NZ can mean the difference of an order or not.

Apart from the obvious importance of a good website, it is relatively cheap and simple to have in-country phone numbers. The use of web based presentations and ensuring availability during the time zone of your customer have all helped reduce distance.

Another important point on reducing Time and Distance is by finding Logistic Solutions that are easy for your customer with quick market relevant delivery times.  It is impressive being able to deliver before competitors when you are sending product from NZ.  Through flexible manufacturing, some inventory and the use of couriers, we can often have our product with the customer before our competitors’ product would leave their factory.

Be prepared to travel to support your business.  If there is an opportunity or issue, show you are committed and get to where the action is.

 

 Maximise “New Zealand” assets whilst maintaining a regional focus.

Being small means you can be innovative, flexible and quick.  Where possible, by developing “partnerships” with New Zealand suppliers you can develop necessary scalability, outsource non-core expertise, whilst not over committing important cash. This means you can “package” your offer in a way that your customer is most comfortable.  By not limiting them to your rules can pay big dividends.

 

Perseverance and Commitment

Developing Export Markets can take a long time, can be extremely frustrating and very expensive. But like many things in life the more effort you put into something the more rewarding it will be. It is very difficult to make any real traction without significant commitment, time spent in market is critical, again and again.  Trying to do too much at a distance can be just that, trying.  Customers and Distributors will learn that you are going to be there to support your product.  Over time very important relationships will develop.

 

Review and Adjust

Regularly reviewing your performance against your business plans and financial measures is critical.  For a small exporter this can be challenging and quite different from medium size exporters.  Normally there just is not the resource within the business to pragmatically and objectively review your export performance in a small company.

If the program is working well, how can it be accelerated?  If the program is not going as well as expected, why?

Using external consultants and mentors on the surface can appear to be costly, however, just one or two questions or statements during a review meeting can be extremely valuable.

In my experience even though the whole review meeting(s) may be valuable it is generally only a couple of points that are really of great value.  The point of interest can have been there and evident, but difficult to see because in a small company you are often trying to cover so many bases.  Once identified, you can then adjust your product, your offer, your value proposition or whatever the identified point may be to be more specific to your targets giving improved growth.

About the Author: Geoff Letcher is CEO & Owner of Quadbeam Technologies and former General Manager of Gulf Rubber NZ.
 

I am sure this is very useful advice, from a seasoned and very successful exporter. Please share your feedback below, so we can continue to build the knowledge/wisdom on exporting 'from afar'.
 
Regards
 
Neil
 
P.S. for a guest blog on exporting to the USA, visit "USA - Land of Opportunity for NZ Kiwi Exporters"
 
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OK - So How Can a Business Coach Help!!?

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My aim here is not to sing my own virtues, but to provide some food for thought based on my last 9 years working as a Business Coach with a variety of SME companies, at varying stages of development - from start ups looking to commercialise ... through to more established businesses who are looking to springboard to the next level.

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Shared Knowledge & Experience

Periodically, I will be sharing content that I believe will be useful for my clients and other SME Business Owners and Managers out there who are serious about business growth, whether at home or in export markets. 

The content will be based on my 35+ years working in the international environment at various levels, including CEO, GM, various commercial management positions, and as a Business Coach over the last 10 years working with SME Business owners and their teams in the manufacturing/engineering field. During my career I have lived and worked in New Zealand, the UK, and North America; and I have gained a great deal of experience in these markets, plus South America and ASEAN.

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Regards

Neil

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