THE MAKER AND THE MIDDLEMAN.
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The Views of Guy Motors, Ltd., on the Importance of Service. By Sydney S. Guy.
WE WERE very interested to read in your issue of January 23rd the article regarding the relation between the maker and the middleman, and we were very pleased to see that some of the commercial vehicle.manufaeturers are recognizing the fact that a sound agent can be a very great asset to their business and the trade generally. Apparently, from your concluding paragraph, you are not quite convinced whether the agency scheme you outline will be successful, and we thought that our own experience of a similar selling organization, which, from the inception of the business, we have always carried out on similar lines, might be of interest to you.
We always had the idea, and experience has proved it to be correct, that, given a real live agent and the proper facilities for carrying out our repairs, he can serve both manufacturer and the user better than any other organization we know of.
In the Case of the Manufacturer.
The agent is a representative on the spot who understands the local conditions, is generally on friendly terms with many of the business houses who are already, or are likely to become, users of motor vehicles, and he is better able to know the exact and particular requirements of each user.
After the vehicle has been delivered, he is there to see that the manufacturers' instructions for the running of the vehicle are carried out, to give helpful hints on the driving and upkeep, and to maintain good business relations between the manufacturer and the' customer, who are often widely separated. Raving the vehicle constantly under his notice, he is able to give valuable suggestions to the manufacturer frqm time to time for the general improvement of -his productions.
From the Customer's Point of View.
It is not the mere question of whether from some firms he can buy direct and get a small discount, but more particularly whose vehicles and organizations will render him the best service, and whether he has an agent within easy reach who thorougaly under
stands the make that he has purchased, and who is always ready and willing to give expert advice and assistance, and undertake quick repairs at a reasonable price, with a view to keeping down the running cost. Long before the vehicle has run half its useful life the customer will have been more than compensated.
After all, the agent, having sold the vehicle to a customer, uses his best endeavours to make it a running advertisement for both himself and the firm he represents, with a view to increasing the sale of these vehicles by which he benefits.. In our experience, the best agents go to a lot of trouble and expense after the vehicle is delivered to uphold their reputation and that of the manufacturers. If, on the other hand,' your agent has not seld the vehicle in question and does not represent this manufacturer, then he has little or no interest in the matter, running costs do not trouble him, and out of any work which requires doing he naturally sees that he makes a good profit.,
To our mind, the oisly possible case in which our remarks do not apply is when a firm runs a fleet of vehicles and can afford to have a permanent and experienced engineer in charge, but, such cases are exceptional. With regard to price maintenance, if an agent is to give his best service to the purchaser of the vehicle (and his service should not end with the delivery of the vehicle), it is essetatial that he should have a fair and reasonable commission, and that on no account should he be allowed to -utilize his commission to cut prices. Such a policy is suicidal and, although the purchaser of a vehicle may think he is getting some immediate advantage by buying at a discount, it is bound 'to react later, as the agent, by cutting down his retainable commission, is not alale to give that service and attention which may be necessary over the years which the user may have the vehicle in work. We may say that these views have not been merely suddenly !developed, as we were the first commercial vehicle manufacturers to become members of the Motor Traders Association, whose chief object, as you are aware, is to avoid an agent cutting prices and reducing his commission to the detriment of the trade generally.
We encourage our agents to keep a stock of spare parts and, if they do so to the extent of a fixed sum, we allow them an increased discount on all spare parts, the idea of this being to avoid delay in sending to our works and annoyance and expense to the customer.
In conclusion, we might say that it would appear that your article was written under the impression that this agency organization of Messrs. Thornycroft is a new thing in the commercial motor business, but as we have already said, from the inception of the business, we have been working along these lines, and at the present time we have some 50 or 60 agents throughout the country, in addition to which, also from the inception of the business, we have had a system of free periodical inspection defing the first two years of a vehicle's life and we believe that we are right in saying that, so ear as commercial vehicles are concerned, we were the first manufacturers to copy the very creditable lead of Messrs. Rolls-Royce in. this system.
That our policy has been right in these respects is evidenced by the fact that we have always had a long waiting list of orders, and we are quite sure that, if other commercial vehicle manufacturers. adopt these principles, they will enjoy an increased business and more satisfied owners of vehicles which, it will be agreed, is the desirable end that the trade should work for.