What makes operators buy?
Contrary to popular belief price isn’t the reason why customers believe certain suppliers’ trucks are the best, stresses Scott Byers director, IAN BYERS.
After researching the relationship between various factors that impact on truck purchase decisions in the South African truck industry for the better part of 35 years, Scott Byers has never found price to be in the top five factors. This does not mean that price is not a key component under certain circumstances. The most important of these circumstances can be summed up in three sentences:
• When the customer cannot afford what they would really like to buy.
• When the purpose for which the truck is required means that it can be written off over the life of a contract.
• When the comparative offerings of two or more competitors are equally acceptable in all aspects except price.
Recently, while conducting the research for the Focus on Excellence Awards, sponsored by WesBank, Scott Byers had the opportunity to look at the topic of “price” from a different perspective. “Last year we began asking for the reasons respondents nominated who they did, as suppliers of the best trucks and buses in various Naamsa categories,” says Byers.
This year Scott Byers expanded on this experiment and learned a lot more about the importance of factors based on operational experience, rather than speculation. “In this analysis we can also correlate the Scott Byers Comparative Customer Satisfaction Performance Measurement results and the Naamsa sales results with the statements from the Focus on Excellence Awards data,” adds Byers.
Byers says we need to ask ourselves, “If price is such an important factor in the purchase decision, why have the cheaper options available not grown their market share?”
If the reasons for selecting particular trucks and buses as their choice of the best vehicle per class (medium (MCV), heavy (HCV), extra-heavy commercial vehicles (EHCV) and commuter buses) are analysed, the reality of the situation becomes apparent.
The primary reasons people select the vehicles they view as the best in their class relate to the quality of the aftermarket support they receive, from their supplier. These findings underline the challenge facing the supply side of the industry.
“Trucks make money when they are the correct truck for the specified application and they are on the move,” explains Byers. “It is the correct truck when the operator and the supplier both understand the detail of the application for which it is intended, and this understanding is clearly shared by the support team in the operator’s business and the supplier’s sales, service and parts people. This isn’t achieved by having the cheapest truck; people working together as a team to collectively achieve a common objective achieve it.
The Comparative Customer Satisfaction Performance Measurement results show clearly that those suppliers who have good reputations for after-sales service and parts support are also the market leaders in the segments they serve.
The good news is that the suppliers who are nominated as finalists for the Focus on Excellence Awards, sponsored by WesBank, are not there by chance but are voted for by their customers for a reason. That, in itself, is quite an honour.
Encouraging news for the suppliers is that they don’t have to strive to be the cheapest, but rather the best they can be in supporting their customers.