What better way to kick off 2015 than with a celebratory story on the world-class performance of a team from South Africa which won the first international UD Trucks Gemba Challenge Aftermarket competition held in Japan towards the end of last year.
BB Truck and Tractor Polokwane took top honours out of 185 competing teams from around the world to become the 2014 UD Trucks Gemba Challenge champions. This is the first year the challenge was conducted on an international scale, as previously it only took place in Japan.
The Gemba Challenge is specifically aimed at aftermarket employees of UD Trucks and teams consist of two technicians, one parts expert and one service expert. Gemba is a Japanese term meaning to focus on where the real work is taking place. It is all about satisfying customers’ needs through speedy response and feedback, yet still maintaining high standards.
Another team from South Africa, McCarthy Commercial Vehicles Alrode, also participated in the finals in Tokyo and were true ambassadors of their dealership and UD Trucks Southern Africa, finishing eight in the world. Second and third position went to teams from Japan.
The final round tested various skills and disciplines through practical and theoretical evaluations of the nine finalist teams.
“The aim of the competition is to showcase the high skills levels available in the UD Trucks markets and in the process, establish a measurable standard of service and skill across the world,” says Gert Ebersohn, general manager for aftermarket at UD Trucks Southern Africa.
“The Gemba Challenge also aims to ultimately deliver direct benefits to dealers in the form of improved knowledge and skills of their employees, which will subsequently lead to an enhanced service experience for our customers. We are extremely proud of our South African dealers’ performance in this global completion.”
In South Africa alone, 33 teams participated in the first round of the completion. Each team had to navigate through a stringent series of tests that relied on teamwork, co-operation and knowledge of UD Trucks products.
“UD Trucks South Africa is thrilled with the work all the South African teams have done but especially the two finalists,” says Rory Schulz, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa. “BB Truck and Tractor Polokwane is also currently the UD Trucks Dealer of the Year, further evidence of the dealership’s calibre and quality.”
UD Trucks is constantly developing, strengthening and training its already comprehensive regional dealer network. The 65 UD Trucks dealers across southern and eastern Africa are always ready to support customers with manufacturer-endorsed sales, service, parts, as well as financial and fleet solutions.
“This win by BB Truck and Tractor is once again proof that we have one of the leading dealer networks in the industry who, with their vast knowledge, skills and high service levels, are able to offer our customers simply the best support. We highly value our dealers’ continuous investment in and commitment to the UD Trucks brand,” says Schulz.
FleetWatch views this win as really significant as we are often seen as being behind the rest of the world when it comes to the maintenance of our trucks. This win proves that the skills are there but it is up to the owners to utilise these skills and stick rigidly to maintenance service intervals – both within and after the warranty.
An encouraging trend on this front, as spelt out by Schulz at the company’s annual press conference held earlier this week (see story in next week’s newsletter), is that the number of customers attaching maintenance contracts to their extra heavy truck purchases increased from 38% in 2013 to 66% last year. Across the entire UD trucks range, this increased from 18% in 2013 to 28% last year.
It’s a wise move as the performance of the two South African teams in the world championships shows that these customers are in the right hands when it comes to maintenance.
FleetWatch extends huge congratulations to the BB Truck & Tractor Polokwane team on their newly acquired World Champions status as well as to McCarthy Commercial Vehicles Alrode for coming 8th out of 185 teams from around the world. Not only did you do your companies proud but you also did South Africa proud. We salute you.