PowerTorque talks with the new owners of a number of major Daimler Trucks dealerships, becoming, as a group, a major truck dealership operation here in Australia.
Earlier this year, Velocity, a major US truck dealership group, acquired all of the Daimler Truck dealerships, formerly owned by the Eagers Group in Australia. This development has grown out of the strong relationship the group has developed in the US, as the owners of 36 Freightliner outlets across North America, and counting.
The business originally got into the truck game in the US, by buying three underperforming dealerships and turning them around. On that foundation the group is now the largest Daimler Trucks dealership group in the South-Western USA, and now growing into the South-East of the country.
The organisation in Australia, which it now owns, consists of around 670 employees, 15 dealership locations. There is a presence in all of the major metro areas like Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Newcastle, Gold Coast, Mildura and several other smaller locations.
The strong relationship formed in the US means the aspiration of Velocity is to take the lessons learned over the years and, where appropriate, apply them here in Australia. The market may look similar, but Velocity does realise there are a lot of differences under the surface.
“We were in a similar situation in the US 12 years ago, to the one we have in Australia today,” says Dan Stevens, Velocity Senior Vice President, who has come over from the US to get the operation up and running. “Mercedes Benz has picked up market share quite quickly here, and that happened to us with the Cascadia back then. Suddenly, we had a lot more trucks on the road, and customers started calling us and Daimler and saying our service was inadequate. ‘We can’t get trucks in, you keep them too long, you’re not communicating well’.
“Some of our competition was doing it better than us, so we sat down with Daimler and told them part of the reason we were hard to do business with was because they were too hard to do business with. We needed things like technical support on the weekend and they weren’t there.
“We decided we had to become better partners so that our mutual customers would have a better experience. We simplified processes, got cheaper, better, faster. We started a 12 year process, the old Toyota continuous improvement philosophy. Eventually, it took hold and confidence and trust rose until it took on a life of its own.”
“We know that if we apply continuous improvement to these new businesses, they will get better. The change management process is the hardest to get embedded. But once it’s embedded, it lives.”