In the modern economy, almost every business has to operate on a global level. Whether you are buying or selling materials, finished products, or services, you need to be aware of the issues present in a global market.
Don’t Get Lost in Translation
For industries and businesses where dealing with people from other countries is the norm, it’s important to have multilingual support. This demonstrates that you are committed to international business, and can create happier customers through superior customer service. Having multilingual employees, or encouraging the learning of other languages, can pay off at home and abroad.
Not every country follows the same rules for units of measurements, and many countries follow different sizing schemes. Sometimes it can be as simple as converting metric to imperial units. Some systems can be a bit more difficult to deal with – for instance, clothing and shoe sizing differs from one country to the next, and there is often no rhyme or reason as to converting from one system to another. If your products will be exported or used by customers who are familiar with a different system, make sure there’s an easy to follow conversion chart.
Helping Your Workers and Customers
Stay up to date on global news matters – Demonstrating that you are keeping an eye out for things that may affect travel or business conduct and alerting your customers and employees immediately allows for alternate plans to be made. Also stay abreast of compliance changes and regulations. Many countries have strict policies regarding business practices, human resources, and import and export regulations. Make sure you know about changes that may impact your customers.
A poor experience can deter a customer from doing further business with you, or from operating in different countries at all. Knowing all of this can improve experiences, and lead to smoother business interactions across borders. Here at Liftomatic Material Handling, we are committed to providing the best experience possible for our drum handling customers, whether you are a business based on the other side of town, or on the other side of the world.
With a booming industrial economy in cities like Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Shanghai, and with a migrant labor force of 300 million (in other words, the entire population of the United States), China is facing a demand for higher working wages that has never been seen in the course of human history. Tens of millions of blue-collar workers are demanding higher pay – as is only natural – and there is little that multinational corporations can do to entirely curb or stonewall their demands – unless by means of automation.
Already we’re beginning to see a 2.0 model for Chinese manufacturing that reduces overreliance on human capital in favor of automated production machinery and materials handling systems. When we at Liftomatic first visited Chinese factories back in the olden days of the 1990s, we came upon staggering levels of redundancy for Chinese workers. I remember personally one factory we toured, where we encountered a worker whose sole job was to keep the key to the fax machine. In America, that employee would have been laughed right off the factory floors!
While that level of egregious waste has long since been trimmed in Chinese factories, automation and roboticization are relatively recent developments. With automated production processes allowing for greater production levels that in turn use less overall expenditure of long-term capital (the initial expense of buying the machinery eventually offsets the costs of maintaining an increasingly demanding workforce), Chinese and multinational factory owners are discovering what we in American manufacturing have long-since known: that automation and optimization pay off handsomely in terms of ROI.
At Liftomatic, we’re an essential part of that paradigm shift away from manual labor in Chinese assembly plants. Our advanced drum barrel and materials handling equipment is a fundamental part of saving money for Western companies that would otherwise have to pack up shop in China and search for greener pastures. If you’re an American, Canadian, or European company currently involved in China, it’s something you should seriously look into. Quality automation is an absolute necessity for business survival in places like the Pearl River Delta, especially in this coming generation of industrial activity. Just a bit of friendly wisdom from the folks here at Chicago’s (and Shanghai’s) own Liftomatic.
The city of Guangzhou, part of the up and coming Pear River Delta of China.
.… most likely didn’t grow up in China. As we’ve been discussing in our recent series of blogs about our longstanding work in that country, China has seen unparalleled, explosive growth since the bad old days of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. Ever since the Chinese Communist Party designated the “pursuit of wealth” to be a “national virtue”, Chinese entrepreneurs haven’t needed much else encouragement. Whole cities have sprung up overnight in the Pearl River Delta. A decade ago these megacities were little more than fishing villages. By 2020, some estimate that the Pearl River Delta of China – an urban region encompassing the major cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, Zhongshan, and Zhuhai – will have a resident population of approximately 42 million people. Keep in mind this isn’t even taking into account the next-door cities of Hong Kong and Macao!
What’s our reason for talking about all this? Well, in a word: money. Namely your hard-earned, North American investment money. The reason that Chinese workers keep migrating to cities like Shenzhen (a megacity that sees an hourly population increase of 318 new residents) is because of the factory jobs that have sprung up there like mushrooms and wildfire. One third of the products manufactured on Earth come from the Pearl River Delta. But just like any city (or cluster of cities) that builds its reputation on manufacturing, the initial unskilled labor pool quickly acquires skills and specialized capacities. The quality of the manufactured goods rises, and there is a corresponding demand on the part of the labor force to gain access to higher wages, the same as with major manufacturing hubs in the U.S.A. like Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, or Detroit.
How will North American multinational companies – especially ones already doing business in China –cope with this seismic demand for higher wages – one that is already making its first few earthquakes felt? Well, one solution lies in the automation of manufacturing facilities, just as has been done in the States. But that’s just for starters. Stay tuned for our next blog from Liftomatic for more details…
The Internet abounds with an overload of websites – supposedly written by “experts” – about the “correct” way of doing business in the People’s Republic of China: that there is a specific, procedural “etiquette” one must follow to the dot if one hopes to get anywhere with one’s Far Eastern counterparts. Not to name specific names… but there are whole English-language websites devoted to the concepts of “Confucianism” and “losing face,” and how an awareness of these factors increases one’s chances of scoring a big contract. We can say, from over two decades of personal experience that while adhering to some of these guidelines can sometimes be of great use, there are exceptions to the rule. In fact, we can personally recollect so many exceptions to the rules as to state with some degree of certainty that there is no one pertaining set of rules. Adherence to soft-spoken Confucian “understatement” in a loud and fast-talking city like Wuhan, for example, may very well get you laughed out the door in a most un-Confucian sort of way.
The fact of the matter is simple: the “etiquette” of doing business in China is very much the same etiquette as doing business anywhere in the modern world. Profit is king. Content is king. The means by which these qualities are delivered, whether by way of a handshake or otherwise, are of little import. So long as you are polite, and friendly, and adhere to the corporate “bottom line” rule: i.e. so long as you bring valuable content or an ingenious product to the table; something by which both parties in the room can profit from; than you can go far in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan, Ningbo, Shenzhen, or wherever else you care to name. The same as you would in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, or Sheboygan, U.S.A. Globalization has had its impact on doing business with China to such an extent that there is very little lost in translation when it comes closing the deal.