Are You Export-Ready?

Is your business ready to expand abroad?

Small population, high costs… Expanding beyond borders is one of the best ways for Australian businesses to overcome these growth barriers.

While exporting is logical for many industries (consumer goods, technology, food and beverages, creative industries) not many construction companies in Australia get involved with export development. Although Australian construction industry has a good international reputation for high standards and innovation, marketing their construction products and services overseas is often seen as a complex process by too many players. With the right strategy any construction business should plan for international expansion.

Capabilities and competences – the wining export combination

Many exporters think that because their products sell well domestically, they will find the red carpets overseas. It takes much more than a good product to export. Whilst one can argue that it is a combination of having the right product, price, demand, marketing, budget, etc that will make a strong export business, having the right capabilities and competences is key to finding success overseas.

Capabilities in construction can be assessed when businesses have solid domestic operations, which is pre-requisite for overseas expansion. A proven track record will help establish credibility in overseas markets. Moreover, it is important to be strategic about who you target overseas. For example, if you plan to compete on tenders, you should know that governments tend to prefer companies that have experience dealing with government officials in the past. Clients in East Asia generally prefer dealing with companies through existing connections, so partnering with a local agency or pursuing a joint venture with a local construction company may be a suitable strategic approach.

Competences should be defined by having the right people. A team with the necessary skills and mindset, with the understanding of the target markets, with ability to handle strategic business aspects of operating overseas, matching skills to associate the right country with the right product is an asset that no product features will ever be able to compete with. These export experts know that overseas expansion should be strategic and not just based on a gut feeling. They would understand, for example, that green construction and sustainable infrastructure are beneficial in countries like Singapore, while markets the like USA have a high demand in climate-specific materials.Competences can be hard to find for new exporters. If you find that you cannot dedicate enough time to training or hiring, then it is recommended you get in touch with an international representative agency to handle the expansion process for you.

Choosing the right country for your building products/services
“China is the largest population”, “US speaks English” or “I have a cousin in the UK” are too often the only elements taken into consideration, leading to a very certain failure.
The right market for your construction business should depend on more tangible factors. Businesses should be realistic about their type of product, their point of difference and size of organisation.

* Small businesses with a small range of products and limited uniqueness in proposition could find opportunities in neighbouring regions, such as Pacific markets (Vanuatu, Fiji, PNG, Indonesia).
* Regions such as the Middle East, Africa and the UAE are likely to see the largest demand in construction work. Companies selling commodity and large volume products, with strong bargaining power can look towards these markets.
* Finally, if you are a medium to large size business willing to navigate some cultural differences, Europe and Southeast Asia are viable markets given that they will both be experiencing steady growth in their respective construction industries.

How to boost your chances of export success?
Use strategic thinking in your export development plans.

Start by researching and comparing different market to define the best opportunities for your products/services.

Joint forces. A method called ‘piggybacking’ is essentially when you leverage local connections to partake in international projects. For example, if you are construction materials provide you may look to partner with an Australian architecture firm on their existing export projects. This will help new exporters increase their international exposure and better equip them for future global expansion.

Be open-minded and adapt. Understand the demand in your target markets and consider relevant adaptation to streamline your export process.
Focus and be persistent. It can be tempted to enter multiple markets at once. Focus your attention on a limited number of markets at a time. 1-2 should be enough to manage in one export plan.

Use experts. Don’t expect your home champions to win overseas markets. Exporting requires different skill sets. If you don’t have them internally, use export development consultants.

Contact one of our specialists today

Phone: +61 2 7903 0543