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The Export Department 1

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THE EXPORT DEPARTMENT 1. The export manager.—Many a firm is delaying the establishing of an export department because it finds it difficult to secure a manager. Thus far the majority of these positions have been filled by men of foreign birth whose education and experience more or less fit them for the positions.

The increasing attention which higher commercial education is now enjoying in the United States, and above all the more cosmopolitan outlook which the war has given the American people will make many American young men in the future turn to foreign trade for their career.

Too many , American houses seem to have the im pression that the mere command of a foreign lan guage fits a man for foreign trade. This, of course, is a mistaken view. An export manager must be thoroly familiar with the article to be bought or sold and know the domestic as well as the foreign market.

2. Study must be constant.—No one can become or continue to be an efficient foreign trader unless he is willing to read and study. A business man living in the United States, meeting constantly men engaged in buying or selling the same or articles, read ing the newspapers, discussing business conditions and tendencies at the club, finds it fairly easy to keep in touch with conditions affecting the domestic mar ket. And yet unless he reads the trade and technical papers and follows the market reports in the news papers, he will soon find himself slipping back.

To keep in touch with a market three or four thou sand miles away, subject to different laws, speaking a different language, and responding to different eco nomic and political conditions, constant read ing and constant watchfulness. Only a wide-awake man who makes foreign trade his life work and is willing to devote every waking minute to a study of its problems can hope to compete successfully with the European exporters.

3. The office the export field is large, a division of the territory is necessary. As sistant managers are generally appointed for the sub divisions. It is advisable, however, to shift these assistants periodically, if only for short periods, to prevent them from becoming "rusty" and to make each one of them an understudy to every other as sistant manager and also to the general export manager.

The same policy may be applied to the positions of lesser responsibility. The temporary loss in effi ciency is more than compensated by the increased ability, morale and spirit of cooperation.

4. The of the most respon sible positions in an export department is that of the correspondent. In the export houses in France, Hol land and Germany, it is looked upon as the stepping stone to that of manager.

Some firms make use of professional translators, or depend on the offices maintained by Chambers of Com merce, and by such organizations as the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, and the National Association of Manufacturers, but wherever possible it is better to employ a permanent correspondent. Letters take the place of personal visits ; they should, therefore, be consistent in their tone and language. Unless the writer studies the files of old correspondence, he is likely to fall short not only in style, but in subject matter. The ideal arrangement is to have one or more permanent correspondents, and let each corre spondent have his group of customers.

For accepting orders, a form letter is not enough. Even when a special blank is used, a separate letter should be attached to it, expressing the appreciation of the firm for the order. Most foreign firms like to know that they are not a "number," but that their orders are appreciated and receive personal attention.

5. "snappy" letters are beginning to lose their effectiveness in the United States; they never were popular abroad. With most foreign business men, politeness is a first essential, and a good graceful style helps a great deal. The let ters should as far as possible have a personal note. Circular letters, or letters which have evidently been copied from prepared forms with no attempt to adapt them to the case in point, are looked upon abroad as little less than insults.

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