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11th May 1920, Page 20
11th May 1920
Page 20
Page 20, 11th May 1920 — TOWARDS REAL SERVICE.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Writer's View is that " Keeping the Vehicle on the Road" is the Right Interpretation of that Vague Term "Service."

By"4 Vim.

SINCE SOMEBODY discovered the commodity " Service," arid revealed it to the motor trade as a saleable line, the word has been ueed and abused until it has almost lost its meaning. Service is, in fact, by no means a new discovery. There are firms of manufacturers and agents who were dispensing it, without thinking that they were doing anything very wonderful years before it came back to this country from America, wrapped up in packets, with a highly attractive label. -Now' we all talk about service, and put its motto on our letter paper, . and generally bandy it about, until there is danger of our taking the word or the deed and of assuming that because we say so much about it, we really must be giving the public the service they need. Therefore, it is well, occasionally, to make a close examination of the service we are offering and to see whether it is more than mere hot air. So much can be done to help the user that is worth the doing, that it seems a pity toeneglect the opportunities that crop up every clay, when the seizing of them is bound to react to our own advantage. With all the post-war flaunting of service, it is doubtful whether it is practised more conscientiously, or with greater appreciation of the user's requirements, than it was before the war. I admit that attempts to help the user are more frequently met with now, but the results of those attempts are not noticeably very effective.. I know that special service departments are the Order. of the day, but, coming down to brass tacks, is the man who owns. a; motor van or lorry any better off than he used to be l Well—perhaps a trifle. But not moll than that.

Before we can make any suggestions for improving service, it is necessary that we should arrive at some conclusion as to what it is that the user needs above all else, once he has taken delivery of his vehicle and has put it into. commission. Naturally, he will want his purchase to last as long as possible, so as to repay him for the money he has put into it; this is an important point, bat it is not the vital one. The point that comes before every ether is that the vehicle should:never be off work for one second longer than is essential for fair average renewals and repairs. The freqUeney with which such renewals and repairs have to be earOed-etit depends,Primarily, on the design and quality of workmanship of the vehicle itself, and therefore, has, properly, nothing whatever to de with service, ' as I. understand the term. Service proper does not begin to operate until the car reaches the hands of the buyer. If the,car is inherently faulty in whole, the matter is beyond the scope of Servieti ; if it is faulty in part, then the manufacturer's service department is the right organization for seeing that the defects are remedied as quickly as possible, so far as vehicles in commission are concerned ; but still I regard that office as an extension of the true purpose of service.. ,

The manufaeturer's'and the agent's duties in giving service to users are different, though closely linked together. If keeping the vehicle on the road " matters most, the mamifaaurer must be in a position to supply replacement parts immediately. That is his foremost responsibility. And yet how very often it happens that several days, even weeks, are wasted because an ordinary part is out of stackg The position is almost Worse than it was in pre-war days. What is the use of bragging about service when a van of recent date has to be laid up for two months while a new gear is being made ! I know all about the difficulties that manufacturers have to contend with, and they are e22 very great., but I say that, until .a maker has assured himself that he has an adequate stock of spares for the vehicles he has already sold, he has no biisiness to sell another one. To do so is a breach of faith with those who have already bought.

No steps the agent can take towards rendering service to his customers will be of much use unless the manufacturer performs his share, which share can be practically confined to the prompt supply of reao long as he has selected the right kind of agents to _represent hien in various districts. Such schemes as the inspection of vehicles in commission have their merits, but they could be :carried out by local agents, probably at less expense, if traders were allowed 'h suitable contribution per car ; and, somehow, I am inclined to regard this kind of effort by

, manufacturers as rather hot-airish "—at all events, as incomparably less valuable than the other which have specified.

Now for the 'agent. Although he certainly cannot be expected to stock a complete range of spares, he must have on hand • such 'parts as are in common demand. The manufacturer should assist him in this by fureiShing him with a list of the items that experience has shown to be most ,required. The agent must also have an efficient repairing staff and equipment to .deal with repairs. I have explained iny 'ideas on these paints in previous article, and only mention them again so that it shall not be thought that I regard them as distinct from service; which might have been the case if the following had been written without repeating them.

To ensure that customers' vehicles shall be kept on

the road, that is, to render thorough service, the agent should be prepared to invest in complete replacement units, for lending out while the ezerresponding units of his customers vehicles are being. teeerhauled. A complete gearbox, a: back axle (a differential, with its complementary crown wheel and bevel, or worm wheel and worm, at any rate), and-a radiator should be available for loan. If the number of vans and lorries of one type in the district warranted it; a complete engine would also be a desirable acquisition ; but as the capital that an engine represents is heavy, I hardly think it would be reasonable to euggest that an agent should feel under any obligation, in htis eagerness to render service, to go so far as this. Ilis ordinary stock would include a couple of connecting rods, a set of big-end and main bearings, etc., and more could not be expected of him than to be able to supply these parts instantly. To the, the benefit of haying his vehicle lale up for only just so long as it took to remove :a defeetive unit-arid to replace it with another, and to change the units round again later on, would be worth a lot. therefore, he shoidd be willing to play something for the accommodation, • and, although it would be poor business for the agent to be greedy in this respect,

he should be able to recoup the interest on his invested capital by levying a small charge for loaned parts, which would also serve to encourage the hirer to send his car in to have the original unit replaced directly it was ready.

All things.eonsidered, I do not think that an agent could -possibly do more in the true spirit of service than to held temporary replacement units at his cuetamers' dieposal. To many, the s. d. involved is a serious difficulty ; to some, it is an. insuperable one. Here, then, is a chance for manufacturers to come to the rescue of cash-tight agents with offers Pr .7avourable terms.


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