Service is the new business

#customer insights #services

Joelson Costa Rodrigues knows every nut and bolt of the hulking great machines in his care – or his ‘children’, as he tenderly calls them. In a corner of the warehouse covering several thousand square metres, the twenty-five year old changes loose tyres, adjusts faulty regulators, oils chains, and checks headlamps. Joelson is a maintenance engineer at KION Brazil and works in the warehouse of home improvement and gardening chain Leroy Merlin, in São Bernardo do Campo. Here at the distribution centre for Greater São Paulo, there are 42 rented STILL trucks in use. Joelson’s work is part of the service concept for truck rentals: company-trained KION technicians are permanently based at customers’ sites and keep the rental fleet in tip-top condition. Thanks to this systematic preventive action, virtually none of the machines ever stand idle as a result of major repairs. Spare parts are fitted at predictable times, and the customer benefits from increased reliability. This saves time and money for the customer.

In the context of the economic crisis in Brazil, many business owners are wondering whether it’s worth investing thousands of reais in buying a new truck – or whether it would be better to rent the same vehicle with maintenance included. “I can replace the entire rental fleet every 36 months, so I’ve always got new machines in operation,” comments operation manager Eduardo Ferreira de Souza, who looks after 14 rental customers for Linde and STILL. KION now has more than 2,600 rental trucks in Brazil, with almost one third of the company’s revenue coming from rentals. Ferreira de Souza goes on to explain: “For a time, Leroy Merlin had to get by with fewer trucks due to the crisis. That wasn’t a problem. In addition, we waived the annual price adjustment for this customer, as the machines spent fewer hours in operation due to the downturn.”

"I can replace the entire rental fleet every 36 months, so I’ve always got new machines in operation."

Eduardo Ferreira de Souza

Operation Manager

Brazil’s difficult economic situation is presenting a whole new set of challenges. Sales curves are becoming unpredictable, favourable external financing – from sources such as the Brazilian development bank BNDES – is disappearing. KION’s new financing service for Brazil is plugging this gap. “Customers now negotiate loans with our partner banks as if they were negotiating directly with KION,” explains Kareen Ratton, business development manager at KION Latin America. “The deal is done directly in the factory and under very attractive terms.”

Leroy Merlin didn’t need any loans, but José Manuel da Costa, who’d been operating STILL forklift and warehouse trucks for years in the São Bernardo dos Campos warehouse, needed to cut costs. During the crisis, the company decided to offer the Linde brand exclusively in all 39 businesses alongside STILL. “This simplifies our administration, as we are negotiating uniform rental prices, can make use of the same after-sales services, and can move our engineers around between the individual businesses with no problems and no need for training,” explained da Costa. Joelson Costa Rodrigues pricks up his ears at this. This would be his ultimate dream: to continue looking after his ‘children’ at Leroy Merlin - but in his home town of Bahia instead of in São Paulo.


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