NEWS of companies closing plants or cutting staff to stay competitive regularly makes headlines and the fact there is currently a skills shortage across all sectors of industry in Australia is common knowledge.
Despite all the media hype, Australian manufacturers are taking up the challenge with impressive results, with local company Bryon Aviation a case in point.
At a recent seminar run by the Innovation Technology Network (ITN)* and hosted at Byron’s premises in Sydney, Rodney Lloyd, Byron’s business development manager, explained how communications played a major role in the company’s success.
Lloyd said the practice of cultivating relationships with people across all levels, from suppliers to customers, has led to further business opportunities.
“It is not just working with the purchasing officer, but also the person who will be using the product,” Lloyd told Manufacturers’ Monthly.
“Accommodating the needs of your customer and changing and moving with them is a good way of ensuring you have a strong customer base and there will be work available for you to do.
“This way, if another opportunity arises, you are in a better position financially to take it up,” he explained.
According to Lloyd, developing close working relationships through open communication and delivering results is the best way of marketing your company.
“Obviously the customer’s requirements vary and change according to market trends and we need to adjust as well.
“Sometimes you have to change the way you think of manufacturing design and processes to be able to meet those requirements,” he said.
This philosophy was reflected in the company’s development of its A380 service trucks.
Through liaison with the truck operators, Bryon identified key factors to improve the usability of the vehicles, investing in the design and diagnostic functions, resulting in the A380s being the most technologically advanced truck of its type globally.
“It’s about thinking outside the square. Looking at what a customer uses and what the competition offers and then presenting alternative solutions,” Lloyd said.
Bryon is able to offer clients a range of services in the aviation industry including research and development, manufacturing, maintenance and refurbishment, as well as testing and certification.
Lloyd attributed the ability to diversify and capitalise on business opportunities as the key factors which enabled the company to continue developing and expanding.
“We are always looking for opportunities, even if it’s only something basic in the beginning. It may lead to nothing, but it could also lead to larger opportunities for you down the track,” Lloyd said.
“It’s a matter of knowing you can provide them with good service and product; that you aren’t going to waste their time and you can offer them value,” he said.
When Lloyd spoke about developing new markets and opportunities during the seminar, communication again was highlighted as a key component.
He told Manufacturers’ Monthly he found word of mouth a successful and effective way of advertising the company’s products and services.
“Every industry is different. The aviation industry is quite small and we are very specialised in what we do so everything is based on turnaround times, quality of work and so on, and when you start achieving these it gets noticed,” Lloyd said.
He advised that responsive communication, open mindedness and polite persistence as the key factors in a successful business relationship.
“If you are a company that is like well, they didn’t return my call, and don’t get back to people you initially contacted, you might lose a lot of business opportunities that way,” Lloyd said.
In an industry where manufacturers often operate in a shroud of secrecy to try and maintain a competitive edge over their competitors, Lloyd presented a refreshingly open-minded philosophy in regards to other companies in the field.
“Working together; with and alongside companies that have the same goal.
“Look at the reputation and recommendations of companies you are thinking about operating with. If your customer is happy working with certain companies, then you should at least consider it,” he said.
“Sometimes your competitor can be your best customer. If you don’t consider it, or meet and talk, you may never know,” Lloyd explained.
* The Innovative Technology Network is a joint project of the University of Western Sydney and the NSW Department of State and Regional Development (DSRD). The purpose of ITN is to promote business efficiency and competitiveness through the uptake of new technologies and innovative practices. For more information about ITN contact 02 4620 3612 and Byron Aviation 02 8723 6400.