Doing business in Thailand

When a company decides to set up shop in Thailand, there are some hidden perils that make it even more challenging. Those perils are deliberate sabotage attempts by Thai businesses who have not sorted out the formula to be successful.

When it comes to being successful there is a certain mind set that is the magic key. That mind set is common in the west, but not in Thailand. It does not matter if you are a big company or not, there are just some things that just have to be dealt with. The big companies are for the most part too big to be attacked, but medium and small businesses are prime target for attack or takeover.

The mentality the Thais have that cause their business to fail come directly from the nature of Thailand itself, and that is Thailand is a tourist destination. So in short tourists tend to be one time customers so the Thai mind set is to get them for all you can. In a way that makes all the business sense in the world if they are not coming back. However knowing when that does not apply seems to be the sticking point.

The western mind set is repeat customers, and that is the key to lasting success. Take for example a bar that is western owned sitting just across the street from a bar that is Thai owned. Over time the western owned bar will tend to prosper while the Thai own bar will tend to fail. The two main factors are customer service and price. For the difference of 5 Baht a beer not much will be said. After all 5 Baht is not much money. But if the service is terrible in the bar with lower prices, many will just view the 5 Baht as a good service fee and not mind paying a little more. The key here is not to piss off your customers.

Another factor that makes the male Thai own bar less successful is simply how they treat their customers. Many male Thai bar owners treat their customers the same as they treat Thai women. Needless to say, that is why many Thai women are interested in a non Thai boyfriend and or husband. For them Jai-dee (good heart) is very important. So pissing off your customers is another factor that will make or break a company. It would appear many Thais are oblivious to this or never were taught manners, so score one for western politeness. On a brighter note, female Thai own businesses tend to score higher marks in the customer satisfaction department.

So as Thai companies start to grow from small to medium size, that unfortunate mind set follows. Then the ‘eliminate the competition‘ mind set comes into play. Disinformation is a common tactic to cause a non Thai own business to fail. A short interviews with a few western counseling services, Connecting the Dots has found that when upper management comes in for help, it is almost always tied to executive stress. That stress comes from discerning what information is real, and what information is a deliberate false plant. When a lot of money and perhaps the fate of the company ride on that decision, you can understand the stress.

Many of the government requirements non Thai businesses need to do is not mirrored in Thai owned business. This too is seen as a way to give leverage to Thai businesses as the requirements can cost a lot of money and time.

So setting up shop in Thailand is a bit more challenging than other places. The road to success is mined with jealousy and greed. But if you keep your wits about you and remember the secrets to return customers, you will do well.

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