Our guest blogger today is David Hymers, Managing Director of 2013 Queen's Award winner Totalpost Services Plc. David tells us why exporting doesn't have to be so difficult.
It was fantastic to be granted a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade earlier this year. We want to take the opportunity to let other businesses know that export is open to all. If we can expand internationally other businesses can too.
Since it was announced that we had won a Queen's Award for Enterprise in April we have seen a 20% upsurge in business and a 25% increase in staff. We already have a company in the US and have opened companies in France and Germany within the last 6 months. We are currently in the process of launching a subsidiary in South Africa.
But it’s not just about physical efforts into other countries.
Perhaps the most important factor is that we are extremely proud of the products we produce and the service that we offer. Quality is paramount and providing a helpful and friendly service to customers is something that is engrained across the business.
We manufacture and distribute franking machine cartridges from our UK base which are then supplied worldwide and we are confident to provide a 100% guarantee on these products. Additionally we provide mailroom equipment and X-ray security screening machinery. Although we have several big competitors in these markets, it is the fact that we are able to offer a personal, flexible and hands-on approach which has won us continued customer support.
All these factors of quality, trust and good business practice have helped to quickly grow our reputation internationally and have accelerated our growth.
So, as a UK manufacturer, how did we get here?
1. Identify relevant markets
It is important to first assess which markets may be most lucrative to expand into for your industry. Over the last 3 years we have concentrated on export growth of the mailroom consumables division. We focused on France, Germany and the USA first because they are the largest worldwide postal markets. Although Totalpost also supply to almost all European markets, altogether this represents some 38 overseas countries.
2. Examine routes to market
Identifying some initial routes to market through existing, established suppliers gives an easier route into other countries. For example, we identified four main routes to market in each country of:
- existing mailroom distributors
- major stationery buying groups
- major telesales organisations for general ink and toner
- catalogue companies
3. Utilise on the ground experience
Speak to those that are already in the market. We always speak to existing contacts or develop relationships via trade shows in order to gather as much knowledge as possible.
4. Test and approve
We do a great deal of testing and seek industry approvals before launching new consumable products. We look to get products tested by overseas contacts and work with them to ensure the product is perfect before launching.
5. Set targets
It is extremely important to monitor success which allows decisions to be made on future strategy. For example it was our aim to increase export growth year on year. Our proportion of export to turnover has increased, being 22% in 2010 and, 31% in 2011, and it has increased further in the last year.
These steps allowed us to establish business in these countries which then enabled us to grow enough to justify opening businesses internationally.
To find out more or contact us for further advice please visit www.totalpost.com.