18 www. bus- ex. com January 10
Customer focus January 10 www. bus- ex. com 19 competitors fall foul is getting the local contact- you've got to know the best people and you've got to know people who are going to work with you. And you can't join up with another company who doesn't understand Western ways of working." Being headquartered in Europe helps to smooth the whole process out, MacDonald believes. " If a client has a query, they're not waiting on the end of a phone or on an email from somewhere in the middle of the desert." Even for European clients who are based outside of the UK, travelling to Scotland is often less of a logistical operation than flying out to the Middle East, especially when proceedings are still at the preliminary or assessment stage. Being European, the company can also help to bridge certain cultural differences- it can explain to its Western clients why something isn't working or moving forward, for example, and this makes the whole experience more comfortable and reassuring. " They're dealing with people who understand their mentality and their way of working," MacDonald says. Clients can also benefit from MacDonald's experience, which enables him to predict where the next flurry of activity could be. " The Aberdeen and North Sea marketplaces are getting quieter. The North Sea is getting to be very much a mature asset- companies don't see the future of their growth there," he says. " They're still working and doing business there; but every company needs to expand in order to grow and they see the Middle Eastern market, which has got more oil than anywhere else in the world, as being where they can do that," he says. MacDonald is at pains to point out that one strategy does not work for everyone. " We have quite a few companies coming to speak to us- we take some and we don't take others," he says. " We will not take a company into the Middle East, wasting their time and money getting there, as well as our time and money, if we know it's going to be a very hard product to sell with 20 different competitors. " But there are a lot of companies that are similar to those in the Middle East and we can help them out," he continues. " From Aberdeen and the North Sea we get a lot of new technology and a lot of Middle Eastern companies are interested in that. There's more and more companies looking to expand into that area," he concludes. - Jim MacDonald is managing director of MacDonald Energy. www. macdonald- energy. co. uk that it's like inventing the wheel all over again," he explains. " They listen to various people but there's no vehicle as such to take a company into that area and actually help them develop as a business- which is where we come in. " We've seen all the pitfalls- been there, done it, worn the t- shirt," he continues. " We've looked at where certain companies have gone and said, ' No, don't do that, because we know people who have done that and it's never worked'. We try and take them through the maze so hopefully they can start doing business a lot quicker than if they tried to do it themselves." MacDonald says many agents purport to open doors for Western businesses in the Middle East, but all too often fail to deliver on their promises. " Some companies will listen to people who are all- singing, all- dancing and who will take them into the Middle East- but at the end of the day, to get the business, they've got to be partnered with a local company. But they [ the agents] don't have that end company, so they hand it on to someone else and that's where it all falls apart," he explains. " There's a lot of people who just want to take your money," he continues. " You get lined up with a company and when you're in the country, they say they'll work with you and show you great business- but as soon as you get on a plane, you're forgotten about. That's the risk and that's what happens with a lot of companies. They spend money coming into it but they get the wrong advice and go the wrong way. They leave the country thinking great things and they find out a few months down the line that nothing else has happened because they've got tied up to the wrong sort of company." MacDonald has experienced this himself, first- hand. " The only times these ' agencies' will work for you is when you're in the country," he asserts. " There are agents out there working 30 or 40 different companies and they'll only work for the ones who are paying the most money." MacDonald believes his proposition differs greatly from the overly exuberant efforts of his competitors. " There isn't a company that does what we do," he says. " There's quite a few people who will take companies overseas and market them out there. But they don't have the end company, so they have to hand it on." By contrast, MacDonald owns interests in Middle Eastern companies, including ones based in Oman and Qatar. " We have a Brazilian company now as well," he confirms. " Where our " From Aberdeen and the North Sea we get a lot of new technology and a lot of Middle Eastern companies are interested in that"