The Hino Total Support programme, with its self-explanatory slogan of becoming a Partner of the Customer, which was rolled out globally two years ago by the leading Japanese truck manufacturer, was the main driver for the success enjoyed by Hino South Africa in 2015, according to Vice President Ernie Trautmann.
"We are delighted at the enthusiastic manner in which our staff and dealers have embraced this holistic programme which encourages the building of trust and meaningful relationships between Hino Japan, Hino South Africa, the Dealers and their Customers," Trautmann explained.
Sales in 2015 hit an all-time high of 4 094 units in a year in which the overall local truck and bus market fell by 3%. Hino also had record parts sales in 2015. We are particularly proud that we did not change our 2015 sales target during the year and stuck to the forecast set in October 2014 despite the slowdown in the market. This allowed us to increase our share of the total market from 12.2% in 2014 to 13.4% last year.
Hino truck sales benefitted from the introduction of more models in the popular Hino 300 Series range, which included more Automatic and Crew Cab Models.
"We also put a big focus on improving the parts supply to and from dealers. We continued our strategy of ongoing evaluation and comparison of our parts pricing with that of competitors and repositioned the prices on a number of major items. The sales volume of these repositioned parts rose by 17%. This is an ongoing process," added Trautmann.
However, Trautmann is particularly proud of the consistency Hino has shown in the quarterly Scott Byers Comparative Customer Satisfaction Monitor (CCSM) where the brand has held the No. 1 position in the combined index of sales, parts and service for the past five quarters, having moved from No. 4 to No. 1 in the third quarter of 2014.
"Our performance in the CCSM is the best way of showing that our Hino Total Support programme is paying dividends," explained the Vice President of Hino SA.
"We are also pleased that the rating of our company in terms of its relationship with its dealers, revealed in the latest National Automobile Dealers' Association (NADA) survey, showed a marked improvement," added Trautmann. "Hino SA received the Most Improved Award as well as a Gold Certificate for achieving a score of more than 75%. Hino's rating of 81.8% was an improvement of 8.9% over the 2014 figure when Hino was awarded a Silver Certificate with a score of 72.9%. Hino was second in the Commercial Category, only 0,7% behind the first placed manufacturer".
Hino SA had a number of successful customer interactions during 2015 which included Brand Experience days, the annual Nampo Show in Bothaville, driver instruction days and the Bring it Back initiative which involved Hino SA refunding customers who took their trucks for Certificate of Fitness testing.
"A major step forward came with the total redesign of the Hino SA website," said Trautmann. It is easier to navigate, far more comprehensive with plenty of added value such as listings of approved bodybuilders. It is also more compatible with the Toyota SA Motors website. The response from people trolling the web for information on our company and its products has been amazing; a big improvement from the results achieved with our previous site."
"The objective for Hino and its dealers is to stay positive this year which is starting in an environment of doom and gloom. We believe our customers already know they are benefitting significantly from the Hino Total Support programme, driven by our pledge to stick to our promises, goals and objectives which is a good start," continued the Hino Vice President.
"The year has already started very well for us with Hino notching up its 25th consecutive finish in the gruelling annual Dakar Rally and this year marked the seventh consecutive win for the Hino 500 Series in the class for trucks with engines smaller than 10 litres.
"We will continue to work closely with Hino Motors in Japan and our dealers to develop Vision 2020 which was announced last year as our ambitious strategy to become the No. 1 truck brand in South Africa by 2020. The key here is building trust between all the parties involved so that we have a unified front in tackling our challenges."
Hino SA currently has 65 dealers, 19 of them exclusive truck facilities, and is looking to rather strengthen the existing network than add more outlets. The company has already plugged gaps in certain areas with dealers able to provide parts and service back-up which is important as Hino SA increases its thrust into the extra-heavy truck market with long haul operators a prime target..
A new initiative for the dealers will be the introduction of a learnership programme to encourage younger people to enter the truck retailing business. It will be a one year development programme with the focus on selling and is a joint venture between Hino SA and the dealers.
A new strategy in after-sales will be monitoring the cause of Vehicle Off Road (VOR) cases at the dealers so as to be able to develop countermeasures to minimise downtime for customers.
The company will continue with its programme of holding stock of popular bus models converted from truck chassis which proved a success in 2015. During the year about 200 Hino truck chassis were converted into buses, mainly of the commuter variety.
There will be even closer cooperation this year between Hino SA, its dealers and Toyota Financial Services (TFS) in providing customers with truck finance and optional service and maintenances plans. The number of Hino buyers using TFS increased rapidly and in December TFS financed 48% of Hino's sales versus a target of 20%.
A new initiative from Hino Motors Japan which will benefit the local company is to encourage information sharing among its various distributors worldwide, such as details of best practices. In this regard a team from Hino SA visited Tokai Motors in Taiwan early this year.
Trautmann says Hino SA is now involved in service reporting to Hino Motors Japan, in addition to the previous vehicle and parts sales reporting, which will put the local company in line for a possible third award in the annual regional distributor of the year competition.
In conclusion Trautmann said the Hino SA forecast for total truck sales in 2016 is 28 000 units, which is lower than the predictions of the industry. He says a worrying factor is the number of 2016 sales which appear to have been pulled forward into 2015 probably due to forecasted high price increases in 2016.