Introspection — not market analysis — should be a company’s first step in considering the Chinese market, says Mina Hayes, a native of Hong Kong and the director of corporate planning at Hayes Microcomputer Products, Inc.
“The more you truly understand yourself, the more flexible and ready you are, the better position you will be in to respond to situations, whether with your customers or with the market,” she told 100 or so attendees of a seminar sponsored by the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism (GDITT), the Georgia Power Company and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
Hayes’ activities in China are a case in point, she added. “At Hayes we did just that. We sized up what we were ready to commit to and what we were not ready to commit to,” said the former director of strategic planning for US West. Mrs. Hayes is the wife of the company’s founder, Dennis Hayes.
At first the Hayeses decided against entering into a traditional “joint venture” which would have required a local manufacturing facility. Now they believe, however, that there is sufficient local demand for products produced in China and they are in the process of selecting a suitable site.
“First, we wanted to make money and be profitable very quickly…the operation must be able to sustain itself,” she said. “And second, we looked at what was necessary to maintain the consistency in quality service and support for our customers since it is a key competitive strategy for Hayes.”
When Hayes first entered China in 1987, it focused not on the number of PCs or installed phone lines there, she said, but rather on who had foreign exchange, and the ministries which were most ready for its technologies and products. “We went in to the easiest entry and most opportunity, which may not be the highest opportunity potential in some people’s mind,” she added.
The company is a privately held, global computer communications company that produces a range of computer communications products including high speed modems, communications software, facsimile, local area network operating system software and LAN adapters. Its world headquarters and manufacturing facility are located in Norcross, Ga. with reasearch and development centers in San Francisco and Waterloo, Ontario.
Once the Hayeses decided to operate in China, they moved the company’s regional office from Singapore to Hong Kong, which, Mrs. Hayes called, “the perfect gateway to China.” And they persuaded the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications to enter into a new sort of “joint venture” to set up its technical training and service station.
Most entrants to China have a direct presence through joint-ventures in manufacturing, but the Hayeses were unwilling to commit to such a substantial investment at that time. “We were able to demonstrate and convince them of the importance of understanding and learning soft technology,” she said. “We introduced the concept of quality service and customer satisfaction.”
Mrs. Hayes also told the attendees that they should not be deterred by various myths about China — most particularly, the one that China’s rules and laws are overly complex. Nor, she said, should they be overly impressed by the necessity of working through established networks.
When presented with a requirement that customers who wanted to buy products would have to use certain pre-approved contracts or agreements, she realized that the warranty and service clauses were inappropriate for Hayes products.
“So, what I did was use the American way,” she said, “by putting five pages of addendum at the back of the contract which conformed to our requirement. We did not make any changes to the original agreement. We just worked with what they had. And everything went smoothly and they accepted it.”
For more information about access to the China market, call the trade division of the GDITT at (404) 656-3571.