From a vision to a company, part 3

First steps across the border

As a young entrepreneur, I took the opportunity to look closely at the clients who used our services. Not only to understand where their needs and expectations might lie with regard to our work. But also from the perspective of “HOW do they do what they do?” This was, slightly modified, my new “learning by doing”.

What I observed strengthened my decision to expand our offer – beyond the horizon of the equally appreciated and familiar Munich. It was not only because of the good neighbourhood of the Upper Bavarian location that our path then led us to Austria, where we set up our first branch abroad in 1984. The move seemed temptingly simple: same language, similar culture. Even in terms of currency, the pre-euro era offered few obstacles: The conversion “7 shillings equals 1 DM” was stable.

The first learning: what appears to be a level path on the surface harbours many a dip and slope along the way. Whereas at home in Munich we were able to improvise quickly and without complications, in Austria longer distances had to be walked and more time was needed. The challenge that arose from this became the next big step in the development of our company: processes and procedures must be defined and monitored. Otherwise, the smooth integration of orders into the overall business will not succeed, and the integration of new employees into the Sasse team will also become more difficult.

The requirements and customs of another culture – no matter how close to our own – also came increasingly into focus. Now I had already got to grips with the mentality arc between Berlin and Munich. But this time it was a question of finding or developing ways that were feasible and acceptable for everyone in the team. A whole series of emotional facilities had to be managed.

The different legal systems in the two countries also proved to be a tough challenge. As a young company, you don’t really have these things in mind when you first step across the border, especially the regulations regarding social security and labour rights. I learned a lot then for later decisions: with all enthusiasm, one should also listen to caution. 

Where we were not surprised: That a regional management is required. I already learned that what “location, location, location” is for real estate experts, that is “proximity, proximity, proximity” for facilities management. Proximity to those who work for the client. Proximity to the customer who wants to be connected with us. Proximity to the country and people who influence, if not shape, our work. Task thus recognised, implementation mastered with some effort. We were ready for the red-white-red world. To which we are still connected today, with constantly growing passion and willingness to perform.