Choose friendly staff with consumer savvy
Problem Solver with Feargal Quinn
Q: Have you any simple advice about how to recruit good staff and where I might find them?
A: Very often, existing staff are a good source of referral for family and friends whom they deem to be suitable. They know the needs of your business very well and should be good at identifying people with the right traits.
Utilising work placements and internships can also be a very solid way of determining someone's suitability and feeding new talent into the business. Many companies also form relationships with colleges. In any event, the most important thing is to choose people for personality and consumer friendliness first, as you can always train them on the other work skills they need at a later stage.
Q: We run a medium-sized family bakery and are supplying some coffee shop chains and hotel groups in Ireland. Should we consider exporting? Our product is unique.
A: I was reading a report recently on Irish manufacturing companies and it concluded that manufacturers who had export markets on their radar from an early stage were likely to have a higher chance of succeeding in the long term rather than companies who limit themselves just to the domestic market. Of course that all depends on the suitability to export your product and there are many companies who have made a fine living from servicing the domestic market only. Differences very often can determine either success or failure. Will significant cost be added to your product through building a new supply chain into a foreign market?
You will also need to put significant thought into how you will manage this overseas market.
Sometimes it is possible to manage it from your existing base while in other markets you will need to partner with a local distributor, or if the market was of a significant size you might want to consider employing your own member of staff in that country.
Bord Bia has offices throughout the world and their role is to support companies like yours. As a word of caution, before you start out on your journey, you need to make sure that the management structures are in place within your business to support this overseas expansion into new markets.
If you don't have good systems and processes backed up by a strong management team, my advice would be not to go near the export market.
You will simply make a bad situation worse.