An absolute commitment to Zero Tolerance on Downtime was instrumental in enabling Northside Truck & Van to win the Mercedes-Benz Truck Dealer of the Year trophy for the second year running.
Northside also claimed the Truck Customer Services & Parts Dealer of the Year title, while long-serving Group Parts Manager Gavin Helme was crowned Parts Manager of the Year, and Leeds-based Daniel Backhouse was a runner-up in the Service 24h Technician of the Year category.
Northside sells and supports the Mercedes-Benz range, as well as FUSO Canter light trucks, from a network of seven branches strategically located throughout Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. The decision last year to extend the hours of operation at its York facility means that every one of those branches remains open through the night; six of the seven are also open on Sundays, and two of them – Leeds and Sheffield – only close on Christmas Day.
Underlining the company’s all-round strength, Northside narrowly missed out on the Truck Sales Team of the Year prize, while Tony Birtwistle was named Truck Sales Member of the Year, and Ian Farrar and Steve Legg made the final three in the competitions for, respectively, Truck Sales Manager and Used Truck Sales Manager of the Year. Steve Cusworth, Chris Dyer and Ian Farrar were also among the 12 top-performing sales specialists in the manufacturer’s UK Dealer Network.
Northside is the UK’s biggest-selling Mercedes-Benz Trucks Dealer – it registered no fewer than 1,301 new vehicles with gross weights of 7.5 tonnes or above in 2017, as well as 390 used models. Both were new records.
Operators of Mercedes-Benz and FUSO trucks also benefit from its industry-leading levels of after sales support. Northside’s Service 24h emergency assistance technicians averaged just 55 minutes to reach breakdown scenes last year, and in 83% of cases fixed the vehicle at the roadside before sending the driver on their way. Meanwhile, 96% of the trucks prepared by the Dealer for MoT test by a Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) inspector sailed through at the first attempt.
Northside has for some time been a bright star in the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Network – it has now won three of the last four Truck Dealer of the Year awards, and was named Retailer of the Year by Mercedes-Benz Vans in 2017 and 2016. Northside is also a previous winner of prestigious Motor Transport Dealer of the Year and Apprenticeship of the Year competitions, which are open to representatives of all manufacturers.
Key to the company’s success, according to Managing Director Tim Ward, is the commitment and dedication of Northside’s 475-strong team. “This latest achievement, like those which have gone before, underlines the wisdom of our strategy of investing heavily not only in our branch infrastructure, but also in the training and development of our people,” he said.
“Crucially, there is no ‘them’ and ‘us’ at Northside. Rather than working in individual silos, sales and after sales colleagues recognise that they’re part of the same big team, and are all pulling in the same direction.”
Tim welcomed the fact that the contributions of the company’s Service and Parts operations, led by After Sales Director Russ Hallowes, had been singled out for special recognition by Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
“The increasing complexity of modern vehicles means that more and more operators are relying on main Dealers for back-up,” he said. “We’re certainly benefiting from this trend and have been steadily increasing our after sales penetration. Last year’s total of 222,000 hours represented a 5% increase in labour sales, while at £22.5 million the total value of parts sold was up by 6%. Coming on top of strong performances in previous years, these figures represent further, very encouraging growth.”
Northside is proud of its track record of staff retention and development. Russ Hallowes is a former apprentice technician while Gavin Helme has worked his way up through the business after starting out as a trainee partsman, and Ian Farrar was promoted to Truck Sales Manager last year from his previous role as a truck sales executive.
Steve Legg, however, was recruited in 2017 from another manufacturer, and has made a flying start as Used Truck Sales Manager, a position in which he faces the challenge of doubling sales of pre-owned Mercedes-Benz and FUSO vehicles.
Russ Hallowes said: “Consistency is vital when it comes to commercial vehicle after sales. Anyone can deliver good service, but you must do so day in, day out, over and over again. We never stop striving to improve our service, and at Northside it’s the staff, with their ideas and suggestions, who drive that change.”
Mercedes-Benz Trucks Managing Director Mike Belk declared: “Its ethos of customer care and commitment runs through every level of Northside’s business. This is a company which has the size and stature to support the major financial investments needed to stay ahead of the competition, but which nevertheless offers the ‘personal touch’ that customers remember and which ensures they keep coming back.
“Yet again, an outstanding performance in terms of vehicle sales and after sales, coupled with an unrivalled quality of service, have made Northside a fantastic ambassador for the Mercedes-Benz Trucks brand.”
The full list of award winners was as follows:
· Truck Dealer of the Year – Northside Truck & Van
· Truck Customer Service & Parts Dealer of the Year – Northside Truck & Van
· Truck Sales Team of the Year – Ciceley Commercials
· Truck Sales Manager of the Year – Paul Simpson, Orwell Truck & Van
· Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Truck Team of the Year – Ciceley Commercials
· Truck Sales Administration Team of the Year – Intercounty Truck & Van
· Truck Marketing Team of the Year – Sparshatts Truck & Van (Helen Jones)
· Used Truck Sales Manager of the Year – Paul Diamond, Roanza Truck & Van
· Used Truck Sales Executive of the Year – Tim Sutcliffe, City West Commercials
· Truck Service Manager of the Year – Thomas McDonagh, Intercounty Truck & Van
· Service 24h Technician of the Year – Daniel Bellwood, Mertrux Truck & Van
· Parts Manager of the Year – Gavin Helme, Northside Truck & Van
· Unimog Dealer of the Year – South Cave Tractors
· Truck Sales Member of the Year – Tony Birtwistle, Northside Truck & Van
· “1 Team” Award – Euro Commercials
· “1 Team” Award (individual) – Henry Jordan, Roanza Truck & Van