The value of growth
TruckStore Centurion is now the go-to address in southern Africa when it comes to used trucks, vans, buses and trailers. And it seems its praises are being sung far beyond our borders as well …
Increasingly, truck manufacturers have been positioning themselves more robustly in a sales arena where, for much of the recent past, one only found the independent re-sellers that parked used trucks in lots alongside the main highways and byways and flogged them out of hand.
Now the seasoned truck business has a fresh lease on life. With a strong focus on delivering volume-based used truck business, Mercedes-Benz South Africa has produced a winner in this field.
TruckStore Centurion’s exponential sales volume growth, of more than 50 percent from 2012 to 2013 and equating to just below 700 units sold, is a sterling result. By all accounts from the team in charge, it will be the base from which to launch a further 20 percent improvement in figures for year two.
Wearing the only TruckStore badge on the continent, and thus representing all Daimler’s truck brands across several national borders, has proven its distinct advantage. Roy van der Walt, manager sales and operations at TruckStore, who together with Oliver Marte, general manager TruckStore SA, has been with the TruckStore South Africa project from the get-go in 2009, thinks there was a clear need in the market for this type of retail service.
“As value-chain offerings and cost of ownership are becoming increasingly prominent in the business, this expansive one-stop facility takes all the hassle of buying used commercial vehicles out of the equation. It offers a quick and easy perfect match to budget and specifications via our on-line and in-store tools. Then, the suitable vehicle and trailer (reliably classified on age, condition, mileage, and service component of the vehicle) can be delivered anywhere in the country or abroad,” he says.
The facility’s customers also enjoy the fact that if finance is required it can be provided in-house by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. “The medium to large hauliers from all over the continent – and locally – are blown away by the total service they get when they visit us for the first time,” notes Van der Walt.
“We are extremely happy with the fact that we have exceeded target expectations in our growth, especially where dealer cooperation is concerned with regard to trade-in support. After all, we only exist to support new vehicle sales,” says Marte. “In its first year of operation, TruckStore locally is ranked number seven on the global TruckStore network scale in terms of country volumes.”
In the past year, TruckStore chalked up some significant sales support to the Mercedes-Benz South Africa dealer network, with trade-in deals from the largest hauliers in the South African transport firmament such as Imperial Logistics, Crossroads Distributions and Ngululu Bulk Carriers. This support also extended across the border to Namibian stalwart FP du Toit, who recently replaced a large fleet. VR Cargo in Mpumalanga also grew its Mercedes-Benz Truck Fleet significantly.
Further afield, it seems the African continent is quietly booming. Its long-awaited promise of economic growth is starting to deliver and it is becoming a growth area in an ailing global economy.
“We are selling vehicles into neighbouring countries as well as into areas as far afield as Zambia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Abu Dhabi and the Middle East. As we are familiar with the export process, we find that we can help many first-time buyers through this complicated process and we tailor-make the service for them, depending on how much assistance they require,” explains Marte, keenly outlining that the long-term expansion plans for TruckStore are firmly on track.
He confirms that the growth in sales has resulted in new jobs being created. “Our social investment in staff, through training and education, is growing and we are proud of our technical apprentices and sales cadets, who we are currently developing to gear up for future expansion in our staff complement.”
Enhancements to increase speed to market are also important and the company’s latest software innovation will enable the dealer network to offer professional and quick trade-in and related services. Plans are also afoot to extend the reconditioning facility to improve throughput of vehicles.
Shaping a sales synergy
TruckStore welcomes trucks of all shapes and sizes through its doors. Its synergy with the Mercedes-Benz South Africa commercial vehicles dealer network gives it business clout, and the replication of the ground-breaking concept, that originated in Germany twelve years back, changed the rules from the outset.
TruckStore buys and sells vans and buses as well as trucks and trailers, dealing across the complete range of commercial vehicles and marques. The financial backing of Mercedes-Benz means that no fleet is too big or too small for TruckStore.
Its simple yet modern building and facilities in Centurion are designed to offer customers pleasant surroundings, while its user-friendly website menu navigation and intelligent search function make it easy for customers to view the vehicles on offer, each with prices and detailed descriptions.
A gold, silver, or bronze medallion indicates the vehicle position – this holds true for used trucks, buses and vans as they are categorised according to their price-performance ratio. Those in the gold category fetch a premium price and come with a comprehensive warranty, while the trucks in the silver bracket – usually vehicles with mileage up to 600 0000 km – are cheaper and come with the option of a comprehensive one year/100 000 km TruckStore warranty.
The in-house team of 32 is complemented by a back-up team of external providers to assist with additional services such as panel-beating or valet services. If vehicles are deemed not suitable for the TruckStore retail target market, they are put up for sale at auctions, with prospective purchasers opting to fix the trucks themselves.