The CEO joined a Growth Clinic in 2016, then he and his General Manager, plus a third member of the team began work completing Growth Modules in May 2018. The three modules provided information about how to grow all aspects of the business, from marketing and sales to innovation, product development, hiring and managing people. The Axiom team identified multiple areas where they needed to make changes so that they could fully capitalise on the increased defence sector investment.
Understanding the Customer
The Axiom team were reminded that they needed to understand what their customers needed and wanted – it was about more than just telling them what Axiom could provide. The small number of very large defence Primes had needs and requirements that were quite different from Axiom’s auto industry customers, and the time between meeting with a new defence customer and getting work from them could be one to two years, or even longer.
“It took a lot of time to build relationships with defence companies and understand their needs. What kinds of documentation did they need? It’s very different from manufacturing an automobile part and shipping it – there is a lot of due diligence and boxes to tick before you even get to quote on a defence project. But once you establish that relationship, understand what defence customers want, and demonstrate they can depend on you, it becomes a long-term relationship. And once you have demonstrated that you understand what defence customers need and can deliver it, those customers will open doors to other defence customers.”, said Craig Maynard.
Long-term planning and communication
Long-term planning was critically important to securing defence customers who are fearful of subcontracting to a small company that turns out to be unable to deliver. They want to see that the company has a long-term growth plan because their long-term success depends on working with well-managed, stable companies. So Axiom needed to have a long-term plan and demonstrate how it was going to grow and support its customers for the long haul, and Axiom developed a three-year growth plan as part of the Centre’s Program.
“Our future plans require us to think through how we’re going to expand to support all these defence projects over the next thirty years, and what facilities, people and machines we are going to need. We have to talk to and communicate with the defence companies about the projects that are coming up, their plans, and what they are going to need from us – and then predict how that will impact our growth. Their success and ours depends on good planning and communication.”
Managing the supply chain
Axiom identified that major defence companies are currently trying to reduce their exposure to supply chain risks, and that created an opportunity to add extra value for customers.
“Rather than the Primes managing lots of small companies and integrating outputs themselves, Axiom is able to manage parts of the supply chains in house and deliver higher-level finished assemblies to the Primes. A single point of contact reduces risk and makes our customers’ job a lot easier.”