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23rd January 1919
Page 16
Page 16, 23rd January 1919 — THE MAKER AND THE MIDDLEMAN.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The New Agency Organization Established by John I. Thornycroft and Co., Ltd. The System Described and Explained.

OMMERCIAL-VEHICLE transport has, during .the war, thoroughly well proved all the claims that have ever been made for it on the score of economy and efficiency, and to-day the position is this, that, whilst 'heavy taxation will cause the purchase of many private motorcars to be deferred, the need for efficiency and economy of transport will cause the thoughts arid ideas of transport users to tend strongly in the direction of the commercial-motor vehicle.

The manufacturers, therefore, have exceptionally promising grounds to;till when they now approach the motor agents in all parts of the country, and knowing that the directors of John I. Thornycroft and Co., Ltd., had recently completed negotiations with over 40 agents—thus embarking upon a new line of policy in the selling of their vehicles—we sought an opportunity to examine into their organization for the conduct of this vital side of their business. Circumstances enable them now to set out to increase their commercial-vehicle business, and having decided that, seemingly, the best way was to give the agent his opportunity to show what he could do, they approached a number of established agents, opened up negotiations, and then, ha,ving divided the country into a number of territories proceeded to appoint agents, giving each a reasonable amount of territory and one not beyond his capacity to handle. Quite rightly, they cut out the main agent holding sway over a large batch of counties, as introducing. an unnecessary complication. Up to the time of writing, we understand that 42 such agencies have been fixed We had an opportunity of examining the form of agreement between the company and the agent, and were struck by the extreme fairness of its terms. The agent having been given a territory, all sales that arise in that district go to the credit of the agent, and the eternal difficulty of overlapping of territorial influence is overcome by a clause in the agreement which credits the sale of a particular vehicle to the agent in whose district are situated the premises in which the vehicle is permanently, garaged and from which it is worked. The interests of the agents are thus fully safeguarded.

In order to assist the local agents, local representatives of the factory travel about the district, endeavouring to create interest in commercial-motor transport in general, and in Thornycroft productions in particular. Their work is supplementary to that of the local agent and is helpful to him, and, of course, he gets the credit of all sales that result. '

There is given an initial discount and, in addition, a bonus depending upon the number of vehicles sold during the term of the agreement, which bonus can amount to as much as an additional one-third of the initial discount. The same terms apply to all spare parts providing they are ordered through the agent. but they do not apply to spare parts the sale of which is not initiated by the agent ; at the same time we understand that any spare-part orders from an agent's district that come direct from the user are advised to the a-gent with a gentle reminder that such an order would have come through the agent if he had been properly in touch with the user. , The agent undertakes to take not less than a given number of chassis during the term of the agreement, and on all deposits that he makes interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum is paid. There is a price maintenance clause, and the manufacturers pro tect themselves against unfair competition, in the way of the cutting of prices of other manufacturers' 36 goods by the same agent, by stipulating that he shall not give more than a certain agreed cash discount off any make of vehicle. As the manufacturers give the agent a sole agency for their vehicles in his district whilst he is free to handle other makes, such, a clause is nothing but reasonable. Those agents who are fixing up now have the benefit of two years in which to complete their under taking, as the term of the agreement runs until the 31st December in the calendar year next following the calendar year in which peace is declared at the conclusion of the present war ; so that agents starting now to represent, Thornycrofts have a period of double length in which to work up for the higher rate of bonus. In addition to the representatives of the manufacturers who look after sales in the different districts, Messrs. Thornycroft are establishing a travelling in specting staff under men who have qualified in the works. Their job will be to travel from district to district calling upon users of Thornycroft vehicles and assisting to keep those vehicles running in the best order, at the same time advising with regard. to requisite repairs. This sort of supervision is going to be good for the user and will bring business to the repair depot, and it should help to keep maintenance costs low on the policy of "a stitch in time saves nine."

We can see, too, that an inspecting technical staff corning in contact, as they will, with the bulk of the repairs to Thornycroft vehicles will secure many pointers towards improvement in design. This knowledge is so frequently (perhaps, unwittingly) withheld from makers.

Another feature of the 'Thornyeroft selling system is the establishment of four main depots. The first is in London, at Pulford Street, Grosvenor Road, and is probably the most up-to-date repair shop in London ; the s;xeend is in Manchester, in Great Bridgewater Street ; the third is in Leeds, at 35, Kirkstall Road ; and the fourth is in Glasgow, in Bishops Street, Anderston. The three latter are places of good size, and enlargement schemes have been approved.

These depots will stock spare parts and will repair vehicles, being equipped for any and every class of work. Each of them will be able to deal with from 60 to 70 large vehicles at one time. Our first thought was that the agents in the neighbourhood of these large depots belonging to the manufacturer would look askance at them and regard them as competitive organizations, but Messrs. Thornycroft have found that the neighbouring agents look upon the depots as a help and of advantage to them.

There is no doubt but that the Thornycroft agency scheme has been very thoroughly and very fairly worked out, and we shall watch it and similar schemes during the next two years in order to see if the agents are fully alive to the opportunities afforded to them of coming into a vast industry. They are the people who know the local tradesmen and the factories and works in their district, and who should be able to advise the heads of such concerns on the advantages to be obtained from substituting motor-vehicle transport for whatever is being used in its place. They should be able to initiate business, and if they do so, they will find that the manufacturers will support them to the fullest extent of their capabilities.


Locations: Glasgow, Manchester, Leeds, London

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