During 2016 Toyota Material Handling Australia intends to establish a new sales channel exclusively for our rebuilt and refurbished forklifts.
The goal is to have one such outlet in every capital city, independent of our new forklift sales centres.
It's going to be a big plus for our customers who've already warmly accepted our rebuilt and refurbished program which we call "Business Class" and "Economy Class".
In the two years since we introduced the Business Class program it's attracted so much support that it's become something in its own right.
Customers, particularly those who are in start-up businesses, really appreciate the opportunity to purchase what is essentially a completely rebuilt Toyota forklift or walkie stacker at about 60 per cent of the new forklift price, especially when the vehicle is factory-backed.
We started the idea as a defence mechanism in order to match the price of some of the low-cost imports while still providing our customers with the quality and benefits of Toyota ownership.
We picked the very best vehicles from our rental fleets and brought them back to a purpose-built line within our head office assembly plant for a complete rebuild. There are now 10 specialist technicians working on that line.
Our criteria was and remains strict. Of 200 rental trucks each month, about 20 per cent qualify to be inspected for the Business Class program. They'll typically have between three and five thousand light hours on them.
We strip and rebuild them - drivetrain, electrics, tyres, safety and comfort items - the lot.
After the first year when we knew how good this program could be, we even invested in a $120,000 paint booth so that the forklifts could be returned to as-new looks as well. That's been well accepted. Some of our customers, like the big
hardware stores, have their forklifts on public view and we've been able to paint them in their corporate colours. These days about quarter of all our forklifts get that treatment.
The ones that don't qualify for Business Class are assessed for Economy and they too go through a refurbishment program.
In our new stores we expect to deliver Business and Economy class in a roughly even 50:50 ratio.
People ask me: isn't this eroding your new truck market? Then answer is no, but it is vastly enhancing the used forklift market, not only for us but across the board.
Frankly it's brought new professionalism to the next tier of the materials handling industry to the benefit not only of Toyota but to the market as a whole.
Customers who used to have no choice but to accept second best are now able to appreciate Business Class as an affordable and viable alternative to the new forklift market.