Wednesday 4th July saw the South Wales Chamber of Commerce host the Accessing More Supply Chains business breakfast at Celtic Manor Resort. The event started with an overview and detailed outline of the International Convention Centre which will be opening in June 2019.
Following this, there was a panel discussion chaired by Centurion VAT owner Liz Maher that saw participants engage in debate over the threats, opportunities and realities that are presented by efforts to utilise new supply chain opportunities in the modern-day Welsh economy and beyond. Questions and views were also expressed from the floor to widen the discussion.
The following top ten tips came out of the discussion:
- Business remains a relationship-orientated industry. People buy into people, meaning networking is vital. Creating, developing and maintaining relationships with buyers is critical to developing long-term success.
- Reliability is everything. Making sure your downstream supply chain is robust is critical to modern day industry.
- Being able to react to sudden changes in demand is hugely important. Often, a breakthrough comes when a contractor is let down by an existing supplier and they need to find a fast alternative quickly – being the supplier capable of plugging an essential gap is a guarantee to starting a new relationship off on an immediate good footing.
- Six points of contact are often needed to secure a new client, so new supply chain opportunities are often slow burners. It is important to not become disheartened – tenacity and the ability to optimise the prospect of meetings is invaluable.
- Word of mouth remains a priceless commodity within modern day business – so membership of organisations such as the Chamber continues to grow in importance.
- “Meet the buyer” events don’t usually lead to immediate work opportunities, but they remain a significant element of creating a database of contacts and incrementally building new relationships.
- A proactive approach to gaining clients is critical. Learn about your target contractor, look at where they might be and get to those events – sitting and waiting for things to happen is the easiest way to ensure that they don’t. It is important that entrants into a new sector take quick wins in the early days to build up capacity and cash flow resilience.
- Social media can be a powerful tool to engage and get your brand known, especially in start-up stages when marketing budgets are tight. With one-to-one relationships critical to the success of securing new contractors, optimising your LinkedIn presence is particularly beneficial.
- You should seek to leverage the strength of existing contracts and relationships. Gaining testimonials from clients and asking for referrals into project contracts is an excellent way for building trustworthiness among new clients.
- Offering advice to potential clients as to how they can maximise cost-saving opportunities and manage your element of the contract can be useful in building rapport and confidence in your business.
Alongside the vast opportunities for accessing supply chains, the following barriers to entry were also identified:
- Procurement requirements are often very onerous and not commensurate with contract value. The chamber can, and will, help this by raising awareness of the issue and working with the public sector to facilitate change.
- The buyer side and the procurement teams within larger Tier 1 or Tier 2 businesses do not always work in alignment with one another, meaning suppliers must be mindful that what the sales team are demanding might not be what the procurement contract suggests.
- Project opportunities often give very short deadlines, meaning it is hard for SMEs to get proposals to prospective clients before their closure.
- Procurement frameworks are sometimes hard to break into. On this important issue, the Chamber is continuing to deliver support to its members and can highlight the best resources and opportunities for overcoming this barrier.
The South Wales Chamber of Commerce remains committed to providing events and workshops that facilitate opportunities for Welsh industry and continues to lead the way in tackling the biggest issues that businesses face in the modern day.
If you would like to learn more about our upcoming Chamber events then you can do so at https://southwaleschamber.co.uk/events/