Calling all Trk’eneurs
Isuzu Trucks has come up with a new, fabulously different programme – called Trk’eneurs. CHARLEEN CLARKE found out all about it at Nampo …
The Isuzu Trucks stand had people stopping, staring and pondering, because there were a number of bits and pieces on the stand that were somewhat unusual; the seat out of a cab, for instance.
Lisa van Aswegen, customer care and marketing manager at Isuzu Trucks SA, explains that the display was intended to epitomise a new programme called Trk’eneurs.
In terms of this programme, which will be rolled out in official fashion later in the year, the company is focusing on the entire business of trucking … and not just the sale of a truck.
“Hence the engine, the seat and the gearbox on display at our Nampo stand. We are considering all the components and knowledge that go into the business of trucking. There is more to trucking than buying a truck. We want to understand the customer and his requirements and then deliver a solution that meets his needs.”
Practically, this can mean liaising with a variety of people. “In terms of our Trk’eneurs concept, we believe everyone in the supply chain is an entrepreneur – from the guy who refuels the vehicle to the person checking on the tyres. We are looking at ways of interacting with everyone involved in the process,” she explains.
This can yield dividends for operators. “Recently, for instance, we had an issue with a customer who wanted to spend a fortune relocating the fuel tanks on his truck. We chatted to a guy in the yard and discovered that his fuel hose was not long enough – which was the reason for wanting to relocate the tanks (a costly process).
“The operator could avoid substantial extra expense by simply installing a longer hose. It was a case of someone taking the trouble to speak to the person who actually does the job. Sometimes we all forget to do that!” notes Van Aswegen.
As such, the Trk’eneurs programme acknowledges the reality that sometimes people, who are not the most highly paid or rewarded, are the most valuable within a business.
“We are very close to our customers at the top level, but we need to add value throughout the chain. I always say: never judge a man until you have walked ten kilometres in his shoes. We want to connect with everyone in the logistics chain. Many people only talk to the person who signs the cheque. Yes, he is a decision-maker, but influencers are also very important. A person in the workshop may influence the purchasing decision because of parts pricing,” she explains.
Van Aswegen says that the driver’s role is also vital. “The cab is his workstation, after all, and, if he is happy, he is going to look after the truck. Recently, a driver, who was working at one of our suppliers, was really battling with his truck, because it had a manual transmission. We sold the supplier a truck with AMT and now the driver is utterly delighted. He knows he is not going to get into trouble for damaging the clutch. You should see how he looks after that truck; he polishes it until it gleams!
“Sometimes we don’t realise just how important drivers are. We need to communicate with drivers; give them knowledge of the costing, the fuel consumption and what they can do to benefit the whole supply chain,” she points out.
Matching the truck to the application is also essential. “The vehicle must be 100-percent right for the application. If it is not, the costs are going to be excessive and the driver is not going to be happy. For instance, give a truck with a long wheelbase to a driver who is delivering to supermarkets, where he cannot manoeuvre … and he won’t be happy.”
Product familiarisation is also very necessary. “Driver training is a very misunderstood term; it is what you get when you get your licence. We need to do road safety education and product familiarisation. Product enhancements are happening more than ever before … and drivers need to understand these developments, so that they can maximise the job that they are employed to do.”
The formal launch for the Trk’eneurs strategy will take place in October, when the exact framework and specific product offerings will be revealed. “We have some amazing ideas but we don’t want to encroach on time – because everyone is so busy. We need to work out how to communicate with everyone in the supply chain … maybe via online clips or infographics or competitions or events …”
We will obviously cover the Trk’eneurs launch in the pages of FOCUS … so watch this space!
Emerging farmers show interest!
More and more emerging farmers are showing interest in the products offered by Isuzu Trucks … some are even buying trucks off the stand! “This is a definite trend – we are seeing more and more black farmers at our Nampo stand each year,” confirms Lisa van Aswegen.
In fact, at Nampo 2014, an elderly black cattle farmer, from the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, asked if he could use two cheques to purchase a truck that was on display on the Isuzu stand. “He had money in the farm account and needed to top it up using his personal account – hence the two cheques. I said I would take 20 cheques if that suited him,” says Van Aswegen with a laugh.
There and then the farmer bought the FXR 17-360 that was on display. “He had visited every single truck manufacturer at Nampo, but he decided on our product because his father had driven an Isuzu, which proved to be completely unbreakable. His son, who was studying engineering, was with him and agreed that it was the best truck for the job,” Van Aswegen relates.
Of course it’s not only the emerging farmers who reckon that Isuzu produces the best truck for farming applications. “We have a lot of brand strength within the agricultural market – the fathers bought Isuzu trucks and now the sons buy them. The 17-360 (with 360 hp) is so well suited to farming; a trailer, double-decker or animal carrier can be put behind it. It has ample power to pull anything.”
Van Aswegen says that, in many cases, the farmer, or his son, drives the truck. “It is for this reason that AMT wasn’t adopted as fast within this sector – because there is very little clutch damage by farmers.
“Show me a farmer who cannot drive a truck properly! I don’t think there is one in the country! They drive from a very young age, and they are highly capable drivers. Having said that, we are now seeing more interest in AMT – so I am sure that it will soon become quite common within this sector,” she concludes.