16 Nov Brexit and new export markets present a steep learning curve for Jo
Contacta exports its products to countries right across Europe and we needed to be ready for the advent of Brexit. Preparations began months ahead of the 1st January 2021, when the free movement of people, goods and services came to an end.
Much of the research into the new rules and regulations was carried out by our Assistant Management Account, Jo Nakimuli, to make sure distribution could continue as smoothly as possible.
“We encouraged our customers and distributors to increase their orders prior to Brexit to make sure they had enough stock in case we experienced any issues,” remembers Jo.
“There was a huge amount of information to get through ahead of Brexit and it was very difficult to begin with. Not all of it was clear or specific to a particularly country. The information was often open to interpretation.”
The power of communication
The strong relationships Jo had built with customers meant she could discuss their understanding of what was required, and find a solution together.
“They could tell me how things were working at their end and what they understood they needed to do. When the transition came, things did largely fall into place apart from some shipments getting held up at customs. These delays were out of our control. We just had to wait. But good communication with our partners meant everyone was understanding.”
The situation was made more challenging for Jo when couriers she’d used previously suddenly stopped their international service and she had to find alternative providers.
A calm approach
But Jo has a cool head. She’s a highly experienced member of the team, having been with us for five years. Her role involves management of the accounts, processing invoices and monitoring the business’ cashflow.
She works closely with Chief Operating Officer at Contacta, Vince Gant, preparing balance sheet reconciliations, and month-end and year-end reports.
Alongside determining the way forward with exports to Europe, Jo has also been studying Customs requirements for new territories.
Contacta is now selling systems to South Africa, a country she hasn’t had dealings with before.
“With any new export market, I do a great deal of research so I’m prepared ahead of any transactions taking place. I can then talk to the customer about their responsibilities so we are confident the shipments can be received. Communication is so important. If they let us know their goods are delayed, we can look at what’s causing the hold up.
“The important thing is if there is an error somewhere that causes a delay, it isn’t repeated!”
A flexible approach
The transition to working from home during lockdown has suited her well. She says it works with family life, being mum to two children aged three and six.
“Since having my second child, they made it possible for me to work from home part of the week. Now I can work during the 45 minutes I spent commuting each way.
“Contacta have been very supportive in offering me flexible working hours. They’ve been brilliant.”