How Danish telemarketing company Alpine Saleforce has boosted its business by moving to the heart of Thailand’s popular royal beach resort
Danish telemarketing company Alpine Saleforce Ltd. has moved its operations to a new office building in the centre of Hua Hin on Petchkasem road soi 28.
Inside the new building is a spacious, modern and well-decorated office with contemporary paintings, a large reception, a meeting room, a kitchen and a pool table on the ground floor. Walk up the steps and you will hear upbeat music, laughter, clapping, cheering and staff speaking in Danish. A cafeteria is set in a small garden at the back of the building, where a Danish chef prepares lots of Danish favourites. If it wasn’t for Hua Hin’s tropical climate, you might think that you stood somewhere in Denmark.
“We have 35 Danes and a few Thai staff working for us now. At the end of March this year, I hope the number will be 50 and by the end of this year, I hope we will have 60 Danes working here,” says Rasmus Moller, Founder & CEO of Alpine Saleforce.
Rasmus Moller is from Aalborg in Denmark. Before setting up his company in Hua Hin in 2010, the Dane had travelled to Thailand many times and even lived here for a short period 12 years ago, when he was a professional Thai boxing fighter.
“I’ve always loved Thailand. I like the people, the food and the weather but I didn’t make enough money as a boxer,” says Rasmus.
Rasmus then decided to move back to Denmark to start a career in sales and marketing at a large telemarketing company in Copenhagen. Within two years, he became a partner of that company in 2004.
“I enjoyed the job as I could speak with a lot of people and offered them good services. I could also decide my own salary from the commission. It was a very competitive environment and I’m a competitive person so it fitted me very well,” says Rasmus.
In September 2010, however, Rasmus decided to move his entire department to Thailand. Alpine Saleforce Ltd. was then established with five staff in Kao Takiab in Hua Hin.
Starting up a business in a foreign country is a big challenge for anyone, and one of the biggest challenges Rasmus faced was getting his company BOI promoted. But after dealing with piles of documents and undergoing a lengthy application process, Alpine Saleforce successfully had the BOI registration in 2011.
“My company is allowed up to 100 work permits. Without BOI, I couldn’t have this kind of operation. I’m very happy to have achieved the BOI,” says Rasmus.
Alpine Saleforce Ltd.
Alpine Saleforce Ltd. currently serves two clients in Denmark; an electricity company and one of the biggest telecommunication and internet service providers in Scandinavia. The company is on contracts to supply new Danish customers to the two clients.
“I think what we are doing now is the beginning of a new industry in Thailand. For this business, you don’t need to be in your own country. Through the advanced IP system, we can service customers without having to be at home in cold Denmark. It’s a good benefit for our employees,” says Rasmus.
The company’s greatest asset
Rasmus says that Hua Hin is a good place to be for his type of business. In the beginning he was looking at Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket but in the end he decided to set up an office here because of its developed infrastructure, location – two hours from Bangkok – and the fact the seaside resort is pleasant and not polluted.
“I did not set up an office here to keep the cost low. The benefits are more for my employees. In this kind of business, my greatest asset is my staff. If they are happy, they perform well and it’s good for the company,” says Rasmus.
To provide good services to its customers in Denmark, the operation hours of Alpine Saleforce are the same as in Denmark, which means the company’s office hours in Hua Hin run from 2.30p.m. to 11.00p.m.
Despite irregular working hours, Rasmus says the company aims to support its staff to have a healthy lifestyle. Recently, he hired a person to be fully in charge of organising trips and recreational activities for staff to do together outside office hours.
“We have an Alpine football team. We take trips to the jungle together and we also have a couple of guys who enter Thai boxing fights,” says Rasmus.
As part of the benefits to its employees, the company also hired an experienced Danish chef to cook both Danish and Thai food for its staff.
The company’s success factors
According to Rasmus, the company’s vision is to be the world’s leading telemarketing company. So far, it has proved to make quick progress. From five staff in a small office in Kao Takiab in 2010, the company has rapidly grown to include 35 Danish telemarketers today.
Rasmus believes that the company’s success comes from its strong partnership with its clients, which derived from the company’s ability to develop its staff to perform at their full potential and thus achieve the clients’ targets with top quality customer service.
“I’m very proud of the team we have here. They have very good potential and they are very nice people,” says Rasmus.
Motivating staff to perform in a highly competitive and stressful environment is not simple. For Rasmus, money is just a short-term motivation.
“If you want high performance, you need to make people see something else rather than money. They need some meaning and greater goals than just money,” says Rasmus.
On top of training, good facilities and benefits for its staff, the company offers a career plan for ambitious young Danes. There are opportunities for anyone with outstanding performance to become a partner in the business.
“It’s a very clear career plan. Not everyone can do it but the opportunity is there. In the meantime, they’ll earn good money. It’s a win-win situation,” says Rasmus.
“I enjoy seeing the individual growth of each and every staff member, and I do everything I can to help them reach their full potential,” he adds.
Following the company’s rapid success, Rasmus says he is also looking to expand into a new market and to have a Thai partner.
“Maybe I will try to partner with one of the telecommunication companies here. I have a good knowledge from working in the telecommunication business in Denmark,” he says.
To keep up with the expansion, the company is now recruiting more Danish telemarketers both from Denmark and Thailand.
Expanding Danish community in Hua Hin
Staff at Alpine Saleforce is between 22 to 57 years old. Some of them have brought wives and kids to Thailand with them, and Rasmus hopes to create a small community for his staff’s families. But since most of them are below 35, the office is filled with a dynamic energy.
“A lot of Nordic people in Hua Hin are older people but we bring in some young blood here, which I believe is good for the community as well. They make good money and are bad at saving. They spend a lot of money at local businesses here. In one year I think we put in the town over 50 million baht and this number will keep growing,” says Rasmus.
Although Rasmus keeps the organisation flat and goes out with his staff a lot outside work, he has made some rules for them to follow such as obeying Thai laws of course, wearing smart outfits/long trousers and shirt to work, and never drink and drive.
“I want my staff to behave. They have to always remember they are guests in Thailand. Back in Denmark, I didn’t interfere with my staff’s personal lives but here they represent my company. Everything they do reflects on my company. I’m aware that I’m a guest here and I want to have a good footprint in Thailand,” says Rasmus.