Hino walks the red carpet
Having been a top contender for many years at the WesBank-sponsored FOCUS on Excellence awards, Hino keeps a tight hold of its leading nominee status.
The FOCUS on Excellence awards are commonly viewed as the Academy Awards for the commercial transport industry. “The awards really separate the serious transporters from the one-hit wonders,” says Ignatius Muthien, senior manager, Hino marketing.
Hino steps up to play the role of Major Blockbuster year after year and at last year’s awards was nominated for six out of a possible seven awards, winning three of those. This made the manufacturer the biggest winner of the event, scooping up more awards than any of its competitors.
This year, as a result of the reduction in the number of awards available, Hino has been nominated for four excellence awards. Proving they not only have amongst the best products on the market, but also the best support, Hino has been nominated for Best Medium Commercial Vehicle (MCV), Best Heavy Commercial Vehicle (HCV), Vehicle Distributor with best Sales Support and Vehicle Distributor with Best Service Support. As last year’s trucking equivalent of The Hurt Locker, everyone will be watching to see how the firm favourites fare in this year’s awards.
As with the Oscars, the awards are so important to companies in the industry because they are voted for by peers and customers. When asked what it takes to be amongst the best as consistently as Hino is, Muthien’s response is simple. “Service, service, service.”
He also believes it is vital to constantly communicate with the customers. “Even when things go wrong, such as the harbour strike and the rail strike – which seriously affected our ability to get parts to customers – it is important to stay in touch with clients, finding out what their needs are and letting them know what we are doing about it.”
Dominating almost a quarter of the market for mediums and heavies each, with 22,8% of the market share for MCVs and 22,5% for HCVs during September 2010, it is no wonder that Hino is consistently voted as the best in these sectors. And consistency really is a key factor in the success of Hino; despite the expected dip in sales after the 2010 World Cup and all the disruptions of the strikes, the company maintains its strong sales records month after month.
With many brands seeming to go technologically crazy at the moment, Hino stands out of the crowd by keeping things simple. “We like to keep our vehicles easy to operate, with not too many electronics; instead we focus on longevity,” Muthien explains. “The Hino brand is famed for quality, durability and reliability, and it is these aspects that keep customers coming back for more.” He goes on to say that he only really has to “sell” one Hino to a customer. “After that, the first Hino will ensure the customer buys the second,” he beams confidently.
Hino was not nominated for best sales and best service support for nothing either. “We are backed up by the largest geographical dedicated dealer network in the industry, with 52 dealers across Southern Africa. These are all run by highly skilled and trained artisans,” says Muthien. “The dealer network we have already established is extensive, and allows us to provide a committed service to operators across Southern Africa.”
Another feather in Hino’s cap is the recognition it has received from the Scott Byers Comparative Customer Satisfaction Model (CCSM). This independent study has ranked Hino as the number one vehicle manufacturer overall, and number one in sales and service. Clearly Hino is providing exactly what the customer wants.
Hino’s product line up currently consists of the 300 series, 500 series and the 700 series. Despite the rebranding of Hino from Toyota Trucks taking place only 18 months ago, Hino and its range has already become commonplace in the industry. The 300 series boasts a Euro 3 compliant engine and is ideally suited for building contractors, freight transporting and parcel deliveries. The 500 series is perfect for general cargo, construction, manufacturing and truck hire applications, while the 700 series is ideal for the long haul road transport, heavy duty transport, and the tipper for construction, mining and demolition work. As from first quarter 2011, the Hino 700 series will also be fitted with AMT gearboxes.
Casper Kruger, vice-president of Hino South Africa, is a natural perfectionist. He is thrilled with the way Hino has grown as a brand, and the efforts that have been made to make it, undeniably, one of the leading brands in South Africa. However, as Kruger points out, “Being the best requires constantly striving to be the best, and understanding that there is always more that we can do,” Muthien agrees, saying that every time a target is reached, a new, higher target is immediately set.
It seems that Hino’s approach to success is all about getting close to the customers, finding out what they want, and going the extra mile to achieve it. “We go out of our way to keep your wheels rolling,” says Muthien.
Being at the top can often be a tough place to be, with other companies nipping at the heels to get ahead, and top companies becoming complacent. However, Hino is handling its reign with grace, and has not let go of its focus for a minute. The company’s strive for continuous improvement means that this year’s awards are guaranteed to be every bit as fascinating as the Oscars themselves.