The flying truck doctor

Sunday, 17 June 2012

With his white coat, stethoscope around his neck and friendly face you would feel completely safe putting your life in Patrick Mwangi’s hands if you met him in a hospital.

In fact, however, Mr. (not Dr.) Mwangi’s patients are not people but trucks. As the divisional Aftersales Manager at CMC, the importer of UD Trucks in Kenya, he is on call 24/7 and at the disposal of anyone who needs his help. He is also a man on a mission.In 2009, Mr. Mwangi went to Japan for training. “There I noticed a very small company, a UD Trucks dealer in Kawaguchi, which had ten times the turnover we have,” he says. “When I asked them how that could be, they explained to me that the majority of their income was generated from their aftersales department. At CMC, it is the other way round. 

Truck doctor reparing

A UD truck gets a thorough inspection and service at Trailink

Seventy percent of our income comes from unit sales. To me, that was a light-bulb moment.”By a stroke of good luck, Mr. Mwangi was later made Aftersales Manager, and he decided to put his new ideas into practice. Today, he heads a department with about 60 employees.“I make sure that every single employee knows that he is an important cog in the wheel,” he says. “My motto is: As a boss, you start from the bottom, not from the top, because you are only as strong as your weakest link.” Mr. Mwangi’s main drive in building the aftersales department is by offering outstanding personal service. He leads by example, even if it means that he has to interrupt a weekend or a holiday to go on the road with his toolbox.

“On Monday, for example, we drove for two hours to help a client,” he says. “It turned out that it was a small problem that we could fix in 20 minutes. You could argue that it would have been easier for us to refer him to the local CMC office, but I think that if a client asks for Patrick, then Patrick must go. Three weeks ago, we helped another client in a similar way. He has now ordered 20 new trucks from us. At the end of the day, it is the personal service that makes the client comfortable, and in the long run it pays off.”