Smith Truck Group new Vic­to­rian deal­er­ship

While oth­ers are shrink­ing, Smith Truck Group is ex­pand­ing. Built on the back of fresh ideas and a steep his­tory in truck sales, its new deal­er­ship will adorn the gate­way to Bal­larat,

Deals on Wheels - - Contents - Jonathan Ste­wart writes

The Smith Truck Group will be tak­ing a re­freshed look into 2017 with a new two­s­torey deal­er­ship in Vic­to­rian’s cen­tral-west.

Al­low­ing the truck sales com­pany to over­look the West­ern Free­way, a key freight route be­tween Ade­laide and Melbourne, the new lo­ca­tion places the Smith Truck Group at the gate­way to Bal­larat, the third most pop­u­lated town in Vic­to­ria be­hind Melbourne and Gee­long.

Sched­uled to open in Novem­ber, the new deal­er­ship will fur­ther ac­com­mo­date the group’s stock of used prime mover and semi-trailer units with the ad­di­tion of an in­ter­nal show­room and sales, parts and ser­vic­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

The new deal­er­ship will also house a new truck fran­chise that will open in Jan­uary and pro­vide new trucks sales, new parts and 24-hour road­side ser­vice.

Speak­ing with Deals on Wheels ahead of its un­veil­ing, Smith Truck Group joint man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Nathan Smith says the deal­er­ship is about fu­ture-proof­ing the busi­ness. “We were af­ter a cus­tom-built premises that would suit our grow­ing deal­er­ship for years to come,” he says.

“We re­quired new space and fa­cil­i­ties to take us into the fu­ture and en­able us to pro­vide fur­ther prod­ucts to our clients from sales/ser­vic­ing and parts.”

Pur­chased three years ago, Smith says the po­si­tion­ing of the land is key to the suc­cess of its new home base.

“The new lo­ca­tion is sit­u­ated in full-eye view on the en­trance to Bal­larat on the West­ern Free­way, which is ex­tremely im­por­tant for us for easy ac­cess for our Vic­to­rian and in­ter­state cus­tomers,” he says.

For those head­ing in­side, views from build­ing will be just as good look­ing back out down the West­ern Free­way thanks to its im­pres­sive glass frontage.

Upon turn­ing their heads to look in­ter­nally, cus­tomers will come across an in­ter­nal

show­room, which the group will “be us­ing [it] for unique/cus­tom trucks and also for our cus­tomers to be able to pick up their new pur­chase in a clean show­room,” Smith says.

Want­ing the cus­tomer to be able to see their new pur­chase on dis­play ap­pears to be just part the Smith Truck Group’s cus­tomer ap­proach.

With a sales phi­los­o­phy sim­i­lar to the mind­set of ‘do unto oth­ers as you would have them do unto you’, Smith says the com­pany’s goal from this ad­ven­ture is “to pro­vide a ser­vice that we are proud of and would want our­selves from a deal­er­ship be­ing a cus­tomer”.

To make this tar­get a pos­si­bil­ity, the Smith

Truck Group pre­pares all of its on-av­er­age 60unit strong stock in­ter­nally with full-time staff man­ag­ing de­tail­ing, pol­ish­ing, paint­ing, panel re­pair and all me­chan­ics.

On the front line, the com­pany has sales staff han­dling the cus­tomers and ad­min­is­tra­tion staff look­ing af­ter the in­voic­ing, stock in­ven­tory and on­line ad­ver­tis­ing. It also has staff mak­ing weekly stock runs across the coun­try.

MODERN TOUCH BACKED BY HIS­TORY

The com­pany’s cus­tomer ap­proach also ex­tends to the on­line world, where it is a reg­u­lar on so­cial me­dia plat­form Face­book, both pro­mot­ing new units for sale and show­ing off its suc­cess sto­ries.

“We are very ac­tive with our so­cial me­dia ac­counts and cur­rently have ap­prox­i­mately 31,000 Face­book fans.

“It is a great way for us to en­gage with the pub­lic and get our name and prod­ucts out there,” he says.

Be­gin­ning his jour­ney in the in­dus­try in 1996, Smith says the way it has changed over the past 20 years means you have to be on top of it all.

“Cus­tomers are more savvy and re­searched now with the in­ter­net,” he says, “so it’s im­por­tant to pro­vide a good prod­uct and ser­vice that sets you aside from the com­pe­ti­tion.”

While his in­dus­try jour­ney is 20 years old, his ex­pe­ri­ence with trucks be­gan ear­lier.

Grow­ing up in Bal­larat with his brother Clin­ton, who is also a joint man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Smith Truck Group, Smith was im­mersed in truck sales from a young age.

“My­self and Clin­ton both grew up be­ing around trucks,” he says.

“Our grand­fa­ther started a suc­cess­ful truck sales and wreck­ing busi­ness in the 1950s, [from] which we still have the orig­i­nal ad­ver­tis­ing clip­pings.”

Those trucks were “pre­dom­i­nately Bed­ford, Dodge, Fords and In­ter­na­tion­als,” he says.

“Our fa­ther has also been in the in­dus­try all his life so we grew up spend­ing our time af­ter school and week­ends around trucks or play­ing in the wrecks.”

In fact, the farm they grew up on is where his grand­fa­ther ran his truck busi­ness from.

That life­time con­nec­tion made their tran­si­tion into truck sales a log­i­cal one. It has also pro­vided a wealth of knowl­edge.

“From be­ing around trucks and work­ing in the in­dus­try for all these years my­self and Clin­ton are known in the in­dus­try for our ex­per­tise,” Smith says.

“We both spend our days pric­ing ve­hi­cles for many new deal­ers around Aus­tralia who in turn whole­sale them to us once traded.

“This way we know what we are get­ting and know we are buy­ing the best stock avail­able.”

And, from mid-Novem­ber, that stock will be on dis­play at a new deal­er­ship.

It is a great way for us to en­gage with the pub­lic and get our name and prod­ucts out there.

Above: The Smith Truck Group is putting the fi­nal touches on its new deal­er­ship sched­uled to open in mid-Novem­ber.

1. When it comes to sell­ing trucks, Nathan Smith says his com­pany “al­ways love a big-bunk Ken­worth.” With a 130-tonne GCM and dou­ble bed op­tion, this 2013 K200 is just that.

2. Pol­ished and ready for a new owner, this 2013 K200 has plenty of bling on show. 3. Noth­ing like new. The Ken­worth K200 has a brand­new set of tyres and a new pair of off­set al­loy steers.

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