Delivering the goods
As a nominee for six out of a possible seven awards in this year’s annual FOCUS on Excellence Awards, Hino is proving the success of its recent shift in corporate strategy, although the manufacturer vows it will not rest on its laurels.
“We appreciate that our customers think highly of us,” says Casper Kruger, Hino’s general manager. “The FOCUS on Excellence Awards are based on customer satisfaction. It’s an honour simply to be nominated as a finalist, because it means that we are delivering good products and a good service to our customers, but we are also well aware that there is still room for improvement. Being the best requires constantly striving to be the best, and understanding that there is always more that we can do.”
Hino has been nominated for six awards: best medium commercial vehicle; best heavy commercial vehicle; vehicle distributor with best parts support; best truck supplier; vehicle distributor with best service support; and vehicle distributor with best sales support.
“We have been nominated for our two highly popular truck ranges, the Hino 300 and the Hino 500, both of which perform well in the local market,” confirms Kruger. “But the nominations we are really proud of are the four related to our service protocols.”
Hino changed its business model earlier this year to become a dedicated truck business. Previously operating under the name Toyota Trucks, Hino has remained a division of Toyota South Africa, although its core focus is now exclusively trucks and the business of trucks.
“We are passionate about our business, our product and our service,” reveals Kruger. “Our job is to deliver the best trucking experience possible.”
According to Kruger, while a win in any or all of the categories would be a bonus to the manufacturer, not winning would be a signal of where the gaps are that still need to be addressed in the company’s service strategies.
“The nominations alone are a good indication of how well our dealers are performing,” he says. “We need to support our dealers, but we rely on them to be our soldiers on the ground as well. They support our customers, help them to meet their goals and ensure that downtime is minimal.
“But the ability to do all that relies on specific processes. If these processes are lacking in any way, it’s important for us to recognise the gaps and address the problems.”
For Kruger, the customer is king, and any satisfaction indexes, from Scott Beyers’ quarterly comparative customer satisfaction monitor (CCSM) indexes to the FOCUS on Excellence Awards, are a means for customers to respond to manufacturers in a meaningful way.
“Win or lose, these nominations are a good way for us to respond to our customers,” elaborates Kruger. “We have made a number of promises while we have been restructuring our business. It’s now time to prove that we mean to deliver on those promises.”
In fact, Hino’s commitment to better customer service is no secret: it was the driving force behind the entire restructuring of the company, and the reason behind the manufacturer’s far reaching footprint: 53 dedicated dealerships stretching across Southern Africa.
“The dealer network we have already established is extensive, and allows us to provide a committed service to operators across Southern Africa. Our core focus is to provide an excellent service, and it’s a vision our dealers clearly share,” says Ignatius Muthien, senior manager: Hino marketing.
The only area Hino did not secure a nomination is in the extra-heavy vehicle segment. “Until this point we have been a small player in this sector,” admits Muthien. “But that’s about to change.
“Our Hino 700 range, while not yet a big player in the local market, has been well received since its launch,” he continues. “We are currently adding models to this range as well. It’s a small market for us, but it’s one we’ve had our eye on for some time and will be focusing on in the future. Watch this space.”
Perhaps the nominations for next year’s finalists will support Muthien’s confidence in Hino’s growth in this segment.
One thing is clear, however: although Hino’s slogan is “the road ahead”, an indication of the manufacturer’s focus on the future as well as keeping trucks on the road, it is also equally clear that the manufacturer is already one of South Africa’s leading truck businesses after less than one year under the Hino brand.