UKTI CASE STUDY – TDI Tuning Ltd
With UKTI support, Chelmsford company TDI Tuning Ltd has increased its Japanese business by 25 per cent as demand grows for its tuning boxes, an easy-to-install device that can be incorporated into diesel engines to boost power, torque and fuel efficiency.
TDI Tuning, which was established in 2004, made the decision to expand internationally in 2012. With limited export knowledge, Sales and Marketing
Director Graeme King decided to contact UKTI for help and support. Graeme explains: “The majority of our sales originate in the UK but we wanted to expand our customer base and were aware of the potential for our products overseas, in particular Japan where there is an increasing demand for diesel engines. From our own research we’d established that the market was currently being served by very few competitors.”
He continues: “Up to that point we’d had limited success in Australia through internet sales and some interest from Japan, but this was by chance rather than through any proactive effort on our part. I’d heard about UKTI and was interested in the mentoring support and assistance they provided.”
Graeme was introduced to trade advisor Stephen Banks, who previously worked in Japan for three years. Stephen recommended the company sign up to Passport to Export, a twelve-month programme which provides new or inexperienced exporters with support to grow their business overseas.
“Through Passport to Export we received essential guidance from UKTI’s network of contacts on our route into the Japanese market, including key advice on advertising and segmentation, which enabled us to pinpoint our potential customer base with greater accuracy.”
He continues: “Stephen acted as a sounding board and his one-to-one assistance and advice have been invaluable. For example, he introduced us to websites such as Minkara - Japan’s largest car and automobile website for car lovers – on which we able to publicise our products to the right audience. He also flagged up the need for us to obtain more local knowledge and, acting on his recommendation, we employed our own in-house Japanese speaking member of staff, who has really helped us overcome cultural barriers.”
Stephen also helped Graeme re-assess his existing distribution arrangements in Japan.
“TDI Tuning already had two distributors in place but one was much more proactive and efficient than the other,” explains Stephen. “Acting on UKTI advice, Graeme decided to work only with the proactive distributor in order to gain greater control over the quality of distribution. It’s important that companies review their distribution arrangements regularly and set ground rules, rather than just hoping the relationship will turn out the way they want it to.”
The company also commissioned an Export Communications Review (ECR) in 2014, a UKTI initiative which helps companies develop an international communications strategy and overcome any language and cultural barriers. The ECR included a review of the TDI Tuning’s website.
“The review helped to identify some important design and content changes that would enable the website to work harder for the company overseas – which is vital when you’re an online business trying to appeal to a global marketplace. A crucial piece of advice was the use of the .com domain suffix instead of the .co.uk one we were using at the time,” says Graeme.
Since first getting in touch with UKTI in 2012 Japanese sales at TDI Tuning have shown steady growth. Graeme continues to receive support from UKTI East and is currently embarking on the Gateway to Global Growth programme through which experienced exporters can take their international strategy to the next level. The company is now looking to explore opportunities in Thailand, France and Germany.
“It has been rewarding to build an ongoing relationship with the team at TDI Tuning and watch the business grow. It doesn’t matter which country you’re looking at, or what industry sector you are in, or what stage of development your business is at, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) can help says Stephen.
“Having had no previous export experience, being able to discuss our issues and agree the best next steps with Stephen has been critical to our success,” said Graeme adding: “We cannot thank UKTI enough for its assistance over the years.”
To find out more about UK Trade & Investment services in the East of England contact your local International Trade team: Telephone 01707 398 398, email info [at] uktieast.org.uk or visit www.gov.uk/ukti
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: TDI Tuning Ltd’s Sales and Marketing Director, Graeme King