GUEST BLOG: "Why fight for a slice of the pie when you can have it all?"

Craid Powell's diary: International expansion

The plan has always been to grow the firm quickly, reaching as many markets as possible. After a really positive first 18 months we decided to go international, the question was which markets to enter?

I spent months researching different markets focussing mainly on the level of competition. We found competitors had established themselves in the larger European markets such as France, Germany and Spain and thought, "Why do we want to compete for a smaller piece of a large pie when we can go elsewhere and take it all?"

I compared a range of markets on areas like population, householder ownership, population density and internet usage, all of which are key to an online business which relies on local tradesmen going out to fix people's homes.

We found the Scandanavian markets ticked all the boxes and decided to go for it, launching our site and acquiring office space and two staff in Finland earlier this month. The plan is to do the same in Sweden and then once we've established that these markets are stable, we aim to launch in Denmark later this year.

Ultimately our aim is to be operating the site in five different countries by the middle of 2012.

The funny thing about going to other countries in Europe is that we're all so different yet all exactly the same. Everybody wants to find tradespeople as easily as possible and to get the best deals on offer, however communicating this to customers differs greatly across countries.

For example, it's not as simple as just translating our site into Finnish and Swedish. As one of our local experts pointed out: the phrase on our UK site which reads, 'Local UK tradespeople' would in fact translate to, 'Finnish only tradespeople.' We're a business built around personal relationships and so are extremely careful to avoid anything which could damage our reputation.

We will be the first site to offer this type of service in Finland and we believe the model will transfer perfectly. Our aim is to be the biggest site of its kind in a variety of smaller markets, avoiding the saturated countries.

It might sound a simply strategy but it's surprising how many firms shy away from using it.

It's been a fantastic first 18 months for the company and we're really proud of what we've achieved. The plan now is to help as many tradespeople as possible increase their workload whilst at the same time making it easier than ever before to find people to fix your home. We want to do this on as big a scale as possible and will continue to attempt to grow both in the UK and abroad.

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