“Don’t do this to me!” That was the Customer Service Manager’s reaction when I first presented my idea. With the increasing number of local skilled competitors in Latin America, our dominant position in 2011 was in jeopardy. They were simply closer and could offer a cheaper service. Therefore, I decided that we needed to establish a local technical team to cater to the clients. However, in the current economy, creating an infrastructure by hiring people didn’t seem the way to go. Then it hit me that by reaching agreements with skilled, local maintenance companies, we could share the training costs and appoint them as our official technical service.
That way we would provide a cheaper and closer service, and those companies would get additional revenue. First I spoke to our Customer Service Manager. Bearing in mind that most of the work would be carried out in that department, I believed it was necessary for him to get involved rather than to impose this idea. Without his cooperation, it would simply not work. At first he was completely against the idea. He argued that an outsourced technical service would be a huge load of additional work, and that skills could only be achieved through long-term experience.
I made him realize that at first it would need a lot of work, but that when they would become trained and self-sufficient, they would be a priceless help and would ease the extremely tight schedule our technicians were subjected to in Barcelona. We agreed it would be him who would establish the training requirements, no matter how demanding he thought it should be, and it would be up to me to get the expenses approved. We drafted together a proposal describing how this service would work, how it should be contracted through us and invoiced by us and how the training would be carried out. Our joint approval would be necessary to schedule and later pay for the outsourced services to keep a technical and a commercial control on it.
Through contacts’ recommendations, I found two skilled engineers, one in ARGENTINA and another in PERU, that I thought met the requirements to represent my company. I negotiated a pre-agreement which involved competitive hourly rates, confidentiality and conditions of operation previously defined with the Customer Service manager. We also agreed that we would divide the training expenses. My boss immediately agreed to the idea but asked me to put together more information to economically justify the project, in order to approve the capital. Instead of speculating about potential sales and expected market response, I decided to compare the real average costs of guaranteed services in the previous years to the theoretical costs if the agreements would have been in place.
Thus, the difference justified by far the costs of training. We presented the complete document and, not only was it approved immediately, but the other heads of department were instructed to implement this idea in their own markets; and our Customer Service Manager proudly added “International” to his title…