THE GANTREX "INTRODUCING" SERIES #14
Focussing on cost without considering value can be a very expensive mistake.
Throughout the global Gantrex operation, we are committed to delivering value and outstanding customer experience. But with cost being an ever-sensitive issue how do we do this and most importantly what does value really mean for our customers? In this Introducing Series interview, we let Saud Khan, General Manager of our sales operation in the Middle East explain, as he builds upon the theory that sometimes ‘cheap can be expensive’.
Let’s start by getting right to the point. Saud, what in your experience is the difference between cost and value?
To answer this, I would thank our Group CMO who made tremendous effort in making us realize what value selling is against selling on cost . Put quite simply cost is money and value is benefit. We normally look for cost the moment we buy, not necessarily thinking about the value a less cheap product could bring in the long run. Approaching a significant project purchase in this manner can prove to be very expensive if the product fails. There are a number of adages that we hear such as Cheap is Expensive or Buy cheap pay twice and all, certainly in our industry are true, borne out by numerous costly project headaches caused by poor quality product. As a business we don’t sell on cost. We sell on value. Costs can go up and go down, depending on market forces and other factors but by selling from a position of value we are able to establish trust and transparency and create long-lasting relationships with our customers. Our leadership are committed to this approach and have made tremendous efforts to build a culture across the business based on selling on and delivering real and measurable value to our customers. This in turn leads to increased product quality along with enhanced product and service performance, coupled with continuous improvement and innovation, that serve our customers applications more effectively.
How easy is it for our organization to demonstrate this?
In short, customers are not just buying our product, but they are investing in value. This means they are investing in engineered product, continuous local support, reliability, consultancy service, warranty and more. We continuously review and build upon our service offering. With our own dedicated R&D department, we have teams rigorously working on inventing new solutions that help customers in their day-to-day operation, not only here in the Middle East, but around the world. We work closely with our customers, getting to really understand their requirements and we are told that this is one of the key things that sets us apart from competitors and why customers come back to us time after time.
These are some of the benefits or value that customers see when they choose to partner with Gantrex. We don’t just sell products, we build relationships.
On that basis, can you share an example of where your team has delivered real value for a client?
There are many examples that I could share but perhaps the best one would be a project we worked on with an Aluminium smelter where the customer had continuous problems using square bars for cranes, and had tendered for a complete like-to-like replacement. Instead of responding to the brief with a like for like solution, our team worked with the client to help them understand the benefits of having our Gantrex soft-mount solution design, providing technical assistance and insight. A good example of what I refer to as value-selling. Although the cost of replacement with our engineered solution was comparatively more, the customer could see that choosing a value solution over pure cost would solve their issues permanently and ultimately save cost down the line removing the likely need for ongoing repairs.
Thanks to the continued focus on providing the best service and quality products to our customers, I believe we are inching close to the very best level of customer satisfaction. Not only that, but we are also increasing our presence and engagement by conducting webinars, seminars, track consultancy services and more to the end users, designers and consultants.
What are you looking forward to in the year ahead? Are there any major projects that you are able to share with us?
One major project that I am very excited about is our new strategic Port Crane Services offer; a huge amount of work is underway on this currently and I am very confident that it will be well received by the market. We also have some significant projects in the pipeline with DP World Jeddah, one flagship project Etihad Rail for columns on track, plus another innovative governmental project called Waste-to-Energy. Besides this I am looking forward to reconnecting with clients and partners as the markets start to open up again following Covid . I am eager to get back out there and meet with our customers, participate in exhibitions, conducting seminars and just get back to the people side of the business.
Staying with the people theme, how would you describe your leadership style?
Leadership to me is all about bringing out the best in my people. Guiding my team to achieve the company goals is a given, but I also take great pride in helping them achieve their personal targets. The way I look at it, every employee is an asset to our organization, and everyone has the ability to be innovative within their roles. By nurturing their ideas and suggestions and supporting them, we add immense value to the organization and also help to create happy, satisfied colleagues enjoying a rewarding career.
And what keeps you in this industry? What are you most passionate about?
My biggest passion is to grow the market presence in the region. When customers think rail, they should think Gantrex. In our industry, customer requirements are sometimes tailor-made and if you don’t understand what the need is, you’re going to deliver the wrong solution and ultimately a poor level of service and customer experience. It’s essential that we stay close to our customers, visiting them regularly to understand any needs or issues they may have. It is also vital that my team understands what the market is, what the customer needs are, and I work meticulously with every team member to optimize the value we provide.
Can you explain more about your market and any specific market forces that could affect perceived value?
Customers these days look for one stop shop solutions, automation, digitalization. We are continuously working on increasing our service offerings beyond the traditional ground track or overhead systems. This is leading to enormous service opportunities and we are seeing that our customers are open to best value solutions from experts. There has also been a lot of government spending on infrastructure development in the region. This opens up opportunities for development of ports which contributes to a big part of revenue to our business. Apart from this, the region is investing more on new technology and self-efficiency which in turn is creating a lot of industrial activity within the Middle East.
So, a positive future forecast! With that in mind, what advice would you give to someone looking to enter this industry and take advantage of a bright career future?
One thing I have found throughout my career is that hard work never goes unrecognized, and in the long run it will definitely pay. Manage things in your own way but stay professional. Take responsibility for yourself and the job that you do. Never underestimate how much you can learn from a book to support your practical experience. You can develop many technical skills from books, schools, trainings courses and the like, but remember if you don’t take responsibility for the work that you do and the career journey you want to follow your knowledge may be in vain.