The whole business world is busy depressing itself by repeating bad news stories. How many of us have joined in this process by talking about bad news in our business, and by the way did you hear about someone else who is having much worse problems? Talking continuously about lack of confidence in the future, or speculating that there must be a cliff out there that we are all going to fall over, does not help to find opportunities.
Undoubtedly there are significant issues regarding the construction market and the funding of major projects. I would be a fool not to take these factors into account whilst planning the business. However the answer for almost everyone lies in making the most of the opportunities that do exist.
The Part L requirements for Energy in Buildings (new construction or old) means that everyone has to react to obtain certification for their systems and implement new innovative designs or improve existing installations. In most cases the arguments for this increased investment can be made on several fronts.
- Environmentally since we all have a responsibility to reduce our Carbon Footprint.
- Financially since although the energy efficient system potentially has a higher first cost the whole life cost arguments are relatively easy to prove.
- Tenant retention or attraction at sustainable rentals is vital in order to meet the financial goals of building owners.
It is a fact that the engineering and architectural professionals in the UK have a global presence. They are highly regarded as innovators and market leaders in many countries. This is a major opportunity since good engineering solutions in the UK do work with a little amendment elsewhere in the world; it is just a matter of recognising the opportunity when you see it.
Having been involved in exporting for many years I recognise some of the pitfalls out there, such as the fact that until recently the UK has been an expensive base to export from, this is no longer the case. Recent experience at Trox has been that we can sell engineering from our base in Norfolk to Tokyo, Washington and the Middle East. Following on from this success we are now confident enough to increase our market presence by recruiting an engineer in Moscow and to add two foreign nationals to our export department in the UK.
Exporting is not always easy for everyone but there is plenty of help and advice available from Government through the UK Trade and Investment Department who will help in opening up markets, making the right contacts, understanding local regulations and in our case hosting a product seminar at the British Embassy in Moscow. All the commercial representatives located in each Embassy are very keen to help promote British engineering skills and products. Make the call now, either speak to your current clients who do have overseas business, or contact the UK Trade and Investment department and check out how enthusiastic they are to give real help and support.
In addition to the 2012 Olympics the UK Government has significant public sector spending plans even now. Particularly important are the health and educational sectors. As always though you need to be involved and obtain the knowledge of how these sectors operate and how business will be placed in order to define your route to this market. Once again there is plenty of information out there, and it is also more than likely that your existing customer base is already fully involved. However since it is not your conventional product that you would supply to your existing customer base you are not being considered. Understand the opportunity, define the product or service and make sure you have the right people and focus for success.
This country has a long history of engineering and innovation and it is important now even more than previously that research and development continues as a business priority. Both exporting and the new health and education opportunities will inevitably require some investment in product development or modification to existing products.
All market changes bring effects both positive and negative if you have an effective development programme and good market intelligence then a quick response to the positive opportunities pays benefits.
My final point is that saving money on product development and employee training can be seen as easy targets when things get difficult. However I can assure you that it is the engineering worth of your products and the people in your organisation together with their effectiveness and enthusiasm that will eventually make the difference.