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The challenge of expanding nationally for a global company

Company case-study: The challenge of expanding nationally for a global company

Most successful companies choose to expand nationally before going down the international road. Lisa Bentley- co-founder of KiwiOz Childcare, an Auckland-based international nanny recruitment company- is doing the exact opposite and the process brings on more challenges than one might expect. So what are the real differences between going global and expanding local?

Location, location, location

When all the lights turn green and you start the process of expanding, choosing the location of your new business is key. When KiwiOz started in 2002 in the UK, opening an office in Auckland in 2009 was a natural choice. The demand for Kiwi Nannies from London families was high so it was logical to have an office that would provide the UK one with a steady stream of candidates. And with the resources now in place in Auckland, it made sense to also offer the nannying services for local families.

This time the objective is quite different as the main goal is to expand the national service, not to provide more international candidates for the UK or Sydney office (opened in 2011). Lisa’s analysis of the situation was that “A lot of (her) Auckland clients also work from Wellington so there was a natural pull there. Christchurch has had a tough few years and Queenstown is a small market so Wellington seemed the best fit for (them) as a business”.

Even though you are staying within New-Zealand and your customers and suppliers are probably the same in your new chosen location, their needs might be different. Deep knowledge and understanding of your customer-base should be the motivation behind the decision making process, and not assumptions. These could be more easily made when growing within your own country.

The backoffice/ working processes

When opening a company internationally, you expect the working culture to be different, maybe even the working processes. So you do your research, you try to adapt and adjust before and even after the launch, so it all works out well for your employees and for yourself. Moving from a New-Zealand town to another, the working culture is expected to be the same. However, you should beware that, the people you will hire will be different and the team cohesion might also be different. And even though you probably want and need your processes streamlined with other existing offices, your new staff may react differently to them or even adjust them to suit their own needs and more importantly their customers need. From Lisa’s perspective it is vital “to ensure that you are accessible for your new team leader for the first year so they can run things by you as they go to ensure you are putting the best foot forward in your new market”

The expectations

Once you have done your research, picked a location and staffed your new offices, the hardest part then starts: making it work. The expectations when opening a new branch of your business abroad or in your country may not be the same. When taking your business overseas, you expect that it would take time to build a customer base, to get the word out there that you are in business. On the plus side, because you are new to the market, there are no expectations and you are setting the standards from a blank canvas.

When expending to another New-Zealand city, even though you are new to the market and need to build that customer base, it is very likely that some, and depending on your trade maybe many, customers may have heard from you and have already formed an opinion about your business.; good or bad.

So you either have to live-up to the expectation and try to make sure the inevitable hiccups you will have at the start go by seamlessly, or break potential negative assumptions. Which can be a hard task to complete. Fortunately, KiwiOz is in the first position, being New-Zealand’s most referred nanny agency and having just been named finalist of the Westpac Auckland Business Award in the Customer Service category for the second year running in Auckland. Lisa certainly seems to have done her homework so there is every chance that KiwiOz will have the same success in Wellington that it enjoys in Auckland.


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