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What are the real costs of an export manager? Salary and Travel

What are the real costs of having an export manager in your company? And are there cheaper ways to manage you international distribution network? In this article we show that you can better have part-time regional country managers who once in a while travel to your headquarters.

Export manager salaries

Salaries may differ with the number of years of experience, and obviously with the country you are based in. We made a comparison for various parts of the world:

W-Europe USA China India
Average salary $62.000 $95.000 $37.000 $15.000
Salary of an experienced manager $77.500 $118.750 $46.250 $18.750

Countries like Australia and Japan are comparable in cost level with the USA, Singapore and Hong Kong with Western Europe, Africa may be comparable with India for the most part, Eastern Europe and Latin America are on average on the cost level of China.

This is only part of the equation. On top of the salaries employers have more costs, for example for worker’s insurances or specific taxes. And a manager also requires attention from his boss, the HR department support departments. This overhead needs also be taken into account.

Travel costs

Travel costs are flights, hotels, taxis and meals. And since you have to optimise travel time as well, and keep your flexibility, it’s mostly not the cheapest options.

For air travel, a big difference is whether to travel business class or economy. Most companies have a policy that if your flight is longer than 6 or 8 hours, that traveling in business class is allowed. For shorter regional flights economy is chosen. Seniority level, and whether you have to work directly the next day may count as well.

If you have an effective export manager, he or she will travel at least 6 times a year to one of the regions he or she is responsible for and will also do a number of regional flights there. If the flight is intercontinental, the duration of the trip may easily be two weeks.

We have calculated intercontinental business class fares for a moderate 3,000 USD per return. Local flights for 500 USD per trip. Hotel costs for 10 nights per trip for only 150 USD per night. Even in ‘cheap’ countries you may pay high prices for hotels, especially if you want to meet people there. And finally we calculated an 150 USD per travel day for taxi’s, food, drinks and other expenses.

Total costs for employing an export manager

We have combined the salary levels in four parts of the world, and added up all costs. See the table below. We also calculated an hourly rate out of it, based on 1600 hours of work per year.

W-Europe USA China India
Average salary $62.000 $95.000 $37.000 $15.000
Salary of an experienced manager $77.500 $118.750 $46.250 $18.750
Additional employer costs 23% 8% 12% 10%
Overhead 10% 10% 10% 10%
Salary costs $103.075 $140.125 $56.425 $22.500
Travel 6 times business class $18.000 $18.000 $18.000 $18.000
Travel 6 times locally economy $3.000 $3.000 $3.000 $3.000
Hotel costs 6 x 10 days $9.000 $9.000 $9.000 $9.000
Other expenses locally $10.800 $10.800 $10.800 $10.800
Total costs $143.875 $180.925 $97.225 $63.300
Hourly rate based on 1600 hours $90 $113 $61 $40

Which means that for a USA company if you can find somebody to do the job for you for less than 113 USD per hour, it is better to outsource the activities. For Western Europe this is around 90 USD per hour, for China and India lower.

Export managers are effective for only half of their time

Export managers are mostly the most effective when interacting with your distributors or agents, so being abroad. But typically they spend most of their time at your office, since travel is expensive and tiring.

Of course there is also paperwork to arrange and alignment with other company departments, but since cultural differences within the company are limited, communication can also be done be email or phone. This is not the case with distributors on other continents.

If you add up travel time, less effective email and phone communication with distributors abroad, and relative unfamiliarity with the culture of the target countries, export managers are only effective for about half of their time.

The alternative: working with locally based country or regional managers

The alternative is to have a network of regional or country managers, who just visit your company one or twice per year, for the rest are visited by you once a year, and who manage the country or region from within. This does not need to be full-time. You can also hire such a country or regional manager part-time with Alliance experts, in over 20 countries around the world.

This has a number of advantages:

  • The area manager better understands the local cultures.
  • Time differences are minimal, so better contact with the distributors or agents.
  • Travel costs are much lower.
  • Management of the local agents or distributors can be much stricter.

And especially for companies from the USA or Western Europe who want to export to ‘cheaper’ regions: you benefit from the lower salary levels and daily rates in the target country.

If you work with us, you will benefit from a locally based country or regional manager, who on the one hand will understand your business quickly, and with whom you can easily communicate. On the other hand he or she knows the culture, the local languages and has an extensive network already. This way we can work more effective than any export manager from abroad.

How to make the calculation?

We would be happy to make the calculation with you and show you the benefits. Please contact us through our network of local specialists.

This entry in exports, featured was updated on November 23, 2021 by specialist.