Used vehicles done properly
Used vehicles, and specifically their dealers, tend to attract a lot of “bad press”. Scania Used Vehicles is changing that, though.
Used vehicles – and their salesmen – are always all painted with the same brush. In the case of the vehicles, they’re high-mileage rust buckets that will fail on you at the very first load. Their salesmen: greasy-haired sharks out for a quick buck.
Who, then, could be better to sell you a used vehicle than someone who once bought a high-mileage rust bucket – which failed at the top of Van Reenen’s Pass on the first load – from a greasy-haired shark?
This man is Ronald Melville, used-vehicles sales manager at Scania South Africa. “I was lied to when I bought that vehicle; I battled from then on, because it was continuously problematic,” he tells us. “It was the wrong vehicle for the application, totally unreliable and the dealer didn’t care. It’s also what happens when you don’t buy from a reputable dealer …”
This kind of first-hand experience is what has allowed Melville – who has been with Scania since 2005 – to give honest guidance to his clients. “It’s fine to make the numbers, but transport is a trust business and you have to do it morally,” he notes. Clearly, this attitude bodes well for business.
Melville likes to form relationships based on reliability, affordability and efficiency, he emphasises, noting that the support offered by Scania South Africa – wholly-owned by its Swedish parent company – makes this much easier to achieve.
“There is a great support function. As soon as you can support the product, productivity and efficiency can go up. Once you can help a customer become efficient, he’s not going to run far from you,” Melville explains. “We like to connect reliability to that – especially given the reputation associated with used vehicles.”
Scania’s approach to its used-vehicle operation involves investing in the vehicles themselves, so that they are in top condition, as well as in the technicians responsible for their new lease on life and post-delivery support – especially regarding cross-border operators.
The company offers different “ranges” of vehicles. Some trucks are off full-repair and maintenance contracts, but have been fully maintained by Scania. These are offered with premium packages including extended warranties.
Then there are vehicles that have had only a service contract. All vehicles are sold with roadworthy certificates and warranties dependant on mileage: either six-months/100 000 km or three-months/60 000 km. It also sells vehicles from other manufacturers, with the option of an aftermarket warranty not carried by Scania.
Melville says it best: “We clean up the vehicles and go through them thoroughly in the workshop – we don’t just add a splash of lipstick!”
Melville explains that most used-vehicle customers are new to the industry, “not many big operators buy a lot of used vehicles,” he says. “A new operator will buy his first truck from us and probably the next two. Then, generally, after the third he’ll buy new.”
Melville says it’s interesting to see how the market fluctuates, with most used vehicles sold in the second half of the year. “We get a lot of ‘seasonal buys’ – farmers, for example, normally take higher-mileage vehicles that will still be good for a long time because they only use them in-season,” he explains. “Vehicles from the mining sector work a lot harder, but we disclose this information. If you’re going to be running high mileages, your vehicle will go through its second life quickly, so sometimes it’s better to buy new … Each vehicle sells on its own merit,” he continues.
In this regard, education is something Melville emphasises. His staff regularly attend training courses. “We need to sell customers the vehicle they need, not the one we want to move. We’ve got no problem disclosing information [about the vehicle’s past] and we give a lot of direction and support to these new entrants.
“I want to see our customers succeed and be a partner in their success. I want to say, ‘there’s somebody who’s made it … I started with him on his journey’,” says Melville.
If ever there was a man and a company to disprove the idea of greasy-haired sharks out for a quick buck, it’s Melville and Scania Used Vehicles.