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Performax eyes 1000 annual sales

Thinking big: Converting US full-size pick-up trucks to RHD is the future for Performax International, as the products meet many Australian needs and help secure repeat customers.

Greater awareness, accessibility of big US trucks key to Performax expansion plan

12 Sep 2014

AUSTRALIANS can expect to see a lot more big US pick-up trucks on the roads in coming years, if Queensland-based importer and right-hand drive converter Performax International has its way.

The company has its sights set on a target of 1000 annual sales by financial year 2017-18, with the Ford F-series recently introduced under full-volume ADR compliance expected to account for half the overall volume.

That is an almost three-fold increase on the 350 vehicles Performax hopes to sell this financial year, with F-series trucks contributing 180 units to the total – and at least 20 have already been sold.

Making the trucks more available and more visible across Australia is key to the plan, and Performax is in the throes of establishing a nationwide network of 22 dealerships that will provide a broader sales, service and parts base.

Performax will also be pushing hard to increase awareness around the benefits of full-size utes among tradies, farmers, grey nomads, the equine and mining industries.

The new sales outlets will be promoted as the only place where all the major types of US trucks can be compared, with the Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, Ford F-Series, GMC Sierra Denali and Toyota Tundra available.

A factory-owned flagship sales centre will also be established at North Lakes, which is closer to Brisbane and more accessible than Performax company headquarters, factory and showroom in Gympie, 170km north of the Queensland capital.

More sales mean more conversions, which will require an increase in manufacturing capacity at Gympie, where a facility currently used for the company’s Crossroads caravan business has been earmarked.

If the plan goes ahead, the premises would be turned into a truck production line for higher volume products, using more automated processes than the current workshop style arrangement.

Speaking at the Ford F-250 launch last week, Performax general manager Glenn Soper said he had dealership applicants from all 22 prime market areas the company identified around the country, and that Performax plans to get the first 16 dealerships up and running by the end of this year, with the remainder in place early 2015.

Increasing the number of locations where customers can get their vehicles serviced under the Performax brand will also help address the concerns of retired 'grey nomad' customers who are worried about parts availability and service expertise while they are on long road-trips.

Part of the task requires increasing customer understanding that a full-size pick-up might be better suited to the task they have in mind than pushing – or dangerously exceeding – the limits of mainstream SUVs or one-tonne utes.

Sales staff will be trained to assess and qualify the needs of the customer and point them in the right direction.

Mr Soper said many of the dealerships that have expressed interest in Performax brand franchises are the major multi-franchise type operations he would prefer to deal with.

“Multi-franchise dealerships have the ability to keep some inventory on the parts, have the appropriate diagnostic tools and we will have dedicated training … we will get around to the dealers and make sure they are au fait with warranty guidelines, customer service activities or technical skills,” he said.

“Now we have the full array of American pick-ups, we are a more valuable proposition (to dealerships) and we have proved ourselves so that high-quality dealerships can put their hand up and take on our franchise.”

Mr Soper said Performax will stipulate that dealerships must take on the whole range of American trucks, creating “a unique selling proposition to be able to walk in and drive a Dodge, Tundra, Chevy or Ford and make a decision on what works for you”.

The look and feel of Performax dealerships is yet to be determined and Mr Soper is mindful of the strong dealer agreements outlets have with their brands.

“We hope to have a facility on the side with Performax logos, shirts and the look and feel of Performax,” he said.

As an example, Mr Soper showed GoAuto a photo on his phone of one Queensland Performax dealership that has all the trucks displayed on a lawn with American and brand logo flags above them.

He said Performax will look after its dealerships by giving them a decent-sized market area, apply sales incentives equally across the network and equalise freight costs so that outlets in further-flung regions like Western Australia are not over-burdened.

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