While for some, rain is depressing, for others it is invigorating bringing hope of better things to come. The latter belief was stated at Nelson Mandela’s funeral service when Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy ANC leader who chaired the funeral proceedings, said of the rain which accompanied the funeral: “In our African tradition, it means the gods are welcoming you and the gates of heaven are open.”
At the official opening of the new Hino Pomona dealership – which resides in the Imperial Group – the gathered guests were hunched under a tent watching a river run under their shoes as the rain poured down. While some were no doubt irritated by the deluge, others were smiling seeing it as a good sign for the future. One such person was Ernie Trautmann, vice president of Hino South Africa who took to the podium and said as much.
He pointed out that if this were an agricultural event, the farmers would be happy. “Once the ground is ploughed and the seeds are sown, the next thing needed is rain. And if the rain falls, everyone is happy. So the rain falling today is a good sign for the future of this dealership,” he joked.
The dealership indeed holds much promise for it is situated in an industrial area alongside the busy R21 freeway near OR Tambo Airport – an area that is rapidly growing in importance as more logistical warehouses are built in the area. The new site was owned by the Imperial Group and occupied in the past by the Tyco Trucks division.
The original dealership was located at a BP filling station site in Elandsfontein. This site later became the early headquarters for the Imperial Group. The dealership had two more moves – to Wadeville and Germiston – before settling into its new home in Pomona.
“Obviously, we want to keep the customers that have been with this dealership at its previous locations but we also see a great deal of potential in this area,” said Mike Darroll, dealer principal of Hino Pomona.
The revamping cost almost R2-million and the focus was on making the facility user friendly to ensure top quality customer service. There are 10 workbays and the height of the service centre has been increased to suit the taller modern trucks and trailers.
In a walk around the facility, FleetWatch editor Patrick O’Leary was thrilled to see that a brake roller tester and diagnostics tester have been added to the equipment brought across from the Germiston facility. Given the number of trucks we find with faulty brakes on our Brake & Tyre Watch project, it is our opinion that every dealership should have a brake roller tester and every truck coming in for a service should be tested.
Sidney Sanders, service manager of Hino Pomona, told me this was being encouraged and at the moment, on his urgings, 92% of all customers were requesting such a test. “And if they don’t do it, the customer has to sign an indemnity form saying he has declined the test,” said Sanders. Three cheers on this.
A parts department with a substantial holding in replacement and service parts is an integral part of the new dealership – and if a part is not in stock, it can be delivered on a same-day service basis from Hino’s central warehouse.
On this point, I must state that an indicator of the increased importance Hino Trucks has placed on fast and reliable parts supply was given last year when Calvin Hamman, Toyota SA Senior Vice President – Sales and Marketing, walked into the central parts warehouse and gave the instruction that if a container of Hino truck parts arrived at the end of the day alongside a container with Toyota car parts, the truck parts container would take precedence for off-loading over the car parts container.
This is in line with the strategy of Hino Total Support where Cost of Ownership is a vital factor. Reliable parts supply is a major factor in reducing downtime which all goes towards reducing the Cost of Ownership. It’s all about adding value and another important offering by Hino Pomona in this arena is 24/7 servicing available by appointment which is finding favour with fleet customers. According to Darroll, this is offered at no extra cost for overtime. How’s that for good?
The dealer also offers a mobile workshop which can service trucks at the premises of customers. Current throughput in the 10-workbay workshop is approximately 15-16 trucks a day. The dealership is staffed by 34 people with 12 in service, seven in parts, four salespersons and a sales manager – in addition to administrative staff.
In his address, Trautmann said the new location opens great opportunities for the dealership to grow its customer base and he challenged Mike Darroll and his team to win the Hino Dealer of the Year trophy within the next three years. He also stressed the importance of Hino Pomona as a strategic dealership in providing Hino Total Support to customers as Hino aims to increase its product range in the future and become an even bigger player in the local truck market.
Gert Koekemoer, managing director of the Commercial Vehicle Division of Imperial Auto, responded confidently saying: “We aim to be the best truck dealers in town.”
It’s all the right stuff.