Knock, knock…


Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg

How do you make yourself attractive for new business in a mature marketplace where suppliers rarely change and only compete on price? You find ways to make yourself much more desirable.

Sometimes, no amount of modern technology beats the human touch. This is especially true when it comes to drumming up new business, even if it’s in a technological field. That’s exactly what KAEFER in Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg) has been doing, with Commercial Manager Matthijs van der Veen and Business Unit Manager Eddie de Veen “knocking on doors” throughout the region armed with transparency and offering a relationship built on mutual trust.

Opening the door to organic growth

KAEFERs strategic goal in Benelux for the last 10 years was to grow from a position of strength in the southern part of the region to cover the entire geographical area. This would be achieved by first winning contracts in places where KAEFER wasn’t established and to then open a permanent location there.

One recent success was a four-year maintenance contract for NAM Shell, which included all of the company’s gas plants in the Netherlands. This involved many conversations between business unit managers, engineering and calculation departments, health and safety and, of course, Matthijs van der Veen and Eddie de Veen. The decision to go with KAEFER was based on the fact that as opposed to some much larger corporate competitors, KAEFER could make decisions and take action more quickly. Being a smaller, locally managed company makes KAEFER agile and also allows for a great deal of transparency. As Matthijs van der Veen, recounts, “NAM Shell was ready for a change and KAEFER was at the right place at the right time to establish an open and trusting relationship.”

Clients have the same need for transparency as we do.

Transparency is the way in

At the Sloecentrale gas-fired power plant in Ritthem in the Netherlands, KAEFER took on a variety of small jobs to get to know the client and the operation. This allowed the team to take a pro-active approach when it came to pitching for the maintenance contract for the facility. They knew the client well and were able to provide them with solutions to the challenges they knew they were facing. One prime example was DPMS – KAEFER’s Order to Invoice Solution. “Clients have the same need for transparency as we do,” says Matthijs van der Veen. “DPMS as an ‘Order to Invoice’ solution is the answer, since it offers real-time data and real opportunities for efficiency. For clients, scaffolding is a black box: a huge construction with a price tag that is built and then dismantled, it’s not transparent at all. With DPMS we can easily display the material used, the units needed, and people involved at the click of a button.”

Since maintenance contracts rarely change and there is usually not much difference between suppliers apart from prices, having a tool such as DPMS is a real unique selling proposition in the market. The team in Benelux knows the advantages well, having set up their own MS Access database for scaffolding six years ago. Now with DPMS, they are setting standards in project management across the region.

Saying ‘I do’

No matter how good your product and service, you need to get people to know about it and commit to establishing a relationship with you. According to KAEFER’s Managing Director in Benelux Chris Hunter, “it’s all about the long-term relationship approach with people in general and with clients as well. Trust comes from staying modest and letting our actions speak louder than words. It’s like getting married. You don’t get married every year if you understand each other’s needs and everything just works. That’s the level of commitment we aim for and helping to achieve a client’s goals is just as important as achieving ours.”

Relationships are just as important within the company as they are with clients. Eddie de Veen and Matthijs van der Veen function together like a well-oiled machine. De Veen knows the market, the people on the sites and just about everyone else around. Van der Veen takes those insights and turns them into tailor-made solutions that genuinely offer clients what they are looking for. It’s easier knocking on doors together and when there’s an opening, transparency, trust and tools such as DPMS are a good start to a great relationship.

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