Pretesh Singh, the dealer principal of Hino Pietermaritzburg, a member of the Bidvest McCarthy Group, may be quietly spoken and modest, but he is nevertheless justifiably proud of the achievement of his dealership in coming out top in the category for commercial vehicle dealers in the 2017 NADA/Sewells-MSXI Business of the Year Awards (BOTY).

Sewells-MSXI SA analyses and evaluates the detailed operating financial data from more than 1 000 local motor dealerships every month as an important tool for the senior management of participating dealerships. Sixty of these are commercial vehicle dealerships.

All dealers that submit their financial statements to Sewells-MSXI each month qualify to participate in seven categories in an annual contest and are ranked in equal-sized groups according to the value of their operational assets. They are then ranked from highest to lowest using Return on Average Assets (ROAA) percentages without repeating any of the previous vehicle brands.

“It was very satisfying winning the commercial vehicle category of BOTY after having made this achievement one of our dealership goals for the past three years,” explained Singh. “We have been the winner of the Hino Dealer of the Year award in the internal Bidvest McCarthy competition since 2014 and now we have won BOTY our sights are set firmly on winning the national Hino Dealer of the Year title.”

Hino PMB with truck

Singh says that participation in the Sewells-MSXI monthly financial performance analysis is a very important aspect of his dealer management programme. He also attends the quarterly Sewells-MSXI meetings in KwaZulu-Natal and says these information-sharing get-togethers are also very fruitful.

“We benefit from being a member of the Bidvest McCarthy Group in terms of training and support, while Hino South Africa’s management team has a number of very effective dealer

management and development programmes that are extremely helpful.

These initiatives are driven by the global Hino Total Support programme which is proving very successful as it focuses on building strong relationships between Hino Japan, Hino South Africa, its dealers, suppliers and thousands of customers,” explained Singh.

The success of this thriving business in Pietermaritzburg is based largely on parts and service with 100% of absorption coming from service. This means that providing top flight service with an excellent parts supply are vital, as is customer retention in a very competitive market. Some of the Hino Pietermaritzburg customers have been dealing with this company for 15-20 years, while most conquest sales result from this dealership’s outstanding reputation in ensuring it has completely satisfied its customers.

Singh does all this with a comparatively lean staffing of 21 people, many of whom have been with the company for a decade or more. He says that internal promotions are a key to continuity too.

Singh added that in the current tough trading environment it is vital to keep costs in check without damaging service levels, while tight stock control is another important factor.

“Regular interaction with our customers is key to our success and here the tools we use include customer open days, new product launches, visits to the Hino manufacturing plant in Prospecton and an annual golf day. In addition, the salespersons are encouraged to get involved with the local community and customers through charity work.

“Regular communication between all the people in the dealership is a way of life and includes structured, weekly meetings involving the parts supervisor, service manager, administration supervisor, all three salespersons and the dealer principal. I am also very open to suggestions from my team members,” added Singh.

Hino Pietermaritzburg is a long-established Hino truck dealership, having originally been a Dan Perkins outlet. The current facility is located on a large piece of land, so on-site parking for servicing or new truck storage are not a problem. A satellite service workshop has been established to look after the G4 fleet of Hino trucks operating in the Pietermaritzburg area.

There are four double service bays and a fully-equipped mobile service unit based on a Toyota Quantum van. Wheel alignment and balancing, together with tyre fitment and regassing of air conditioning systems are all provided on-site. After-hours servicing is also proving popular.

Pretesh with special tools

Water-saving tanks have been erected so that storm water can be used to cut the water bill and as a contribution to preserving the environment.

Pretesh Singh has worked in the retail motor industry for most of his career. Although his main interest is in administration he started as a service advisor at a passenger car dealership before joining Hino Pietermaritzburg more than a decade ago. Here he worked as a costing clerk and warranty controller before progressing to service advisor and then service manager. He held the latter position for six years before being appointed dealer principal in August 2017.

“Pretesh and his team at Hino Pietermaritzburg put up an outstanding performance in the running of this dealership to come out on top of the 60 commercial vehicle dealerships that participate in our monthly financials analysis and we are pleased that our systems contribute markedly to this ongoing success,” said John Templeton, Head of Operations for Sewells-MSXI in South Africa. “We would also like to encourage more commercial vehicle outlets to participate in our programme as it is a proven recipe for business success.”