“The progress of SKF’s distributor programme, since implementation four years ago, has been and will continue to be a great success,” reports SKF South Africa Managing Director, Barry Dailly.
With more than 100 years’ experience in bearing and rotating technology, SKF’s global vision is to ‘Equip the world with SKF knowledge’ through its six core technologies – bearings and units, seals, lubrication systems, power transmission, mechatronics, and mechanical and reliability engineering services.
“It is our responsibility to deliver this to our customers but it is impossible for us to be everywhere, so we took a strategic decision in 2008 to restructure our South African branches through the establishment of a country-wide network of authorised independent industrial distributors,” explains Dailly. “As an extension of our product and service delivery capability, our distributors give us the best route to market and enable us to place SKF appropriate resources and skills where they are required, in other words, equip our customers with SKF knowledge. Being situated closer to our customer base, they can plan and manage stock more effectively and have the ability to service end users quickly, meeting their demands for high quality, reliable products and services that will reduce total cost of ownership.”
“Our authorised distributors also make it is possible for us to further extend our local responsibilities to cross-border markets in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. SKF South Africa reports into the Africa Region so, through representation in Zambia, East Africa and North Africa, we have presence across the entire African continent,” continues Dailly, adding that the widespread independent authorised distribution is nothing new for SKF.
In South Africa, current distributors are responsible for approximately half the industrial aftermarket representation.
Dailly says that there are numerous factors that SKF South Africa takes into account when appointing authorised distributors, the most important of which is “like mindedness in terms of values and ethics. We demand honesty and integrity in all parts of our activities and expect the same from all parties with whom we have any business relations – customers, suppliers, distributors and agents. At SKF South Africa, sound business relationships are important, thus authorised distributors must have the same commitment to customer loyalty that SKF South Africa has.”
In terms of distributor responsibility, Dailly believes they have a key role to play in the delivery of the SKF value proposition. “The location of distributors close to our customers makes it easy to build and maintain relationships. Through their model of flexible and responsive customer service and carefully planned stock holding, our distributors are able to meet customer expectations through prompt delivery of key items. The value-add here is the reduction of down-time of customer equipment.”
“The benefits of being an authorised SKF Distributor,” says Dailly, “are that SKF’s state-of-the-art supply chain management processes and systems enable distributors to optimise their own practices.” SKF’s large skilled team have the local resources to design and deliver complex solutions across the SKF technology platforms. Local experts also have access to the global pool of knowledge, experience and capabilities to ensure that no challenge goes unsolved. “This, coupled with the extremely powerful SKF brand, which is valuable for the distributor to be associated with, adds tremendous value to our distributors.”
SKF benefits from the distributor network as it extends the SKF reach by building direct relationships with customers at the operational levels where it matters, specifically when providing the flexibility and after-hours support that all customers deserve. Dailly points out that today’s customers are very discerning and demand top quality at a fair price. “Through the SKF distributor partnership, we differentiate ourselves from traditional commodity suppliers whose approach is purely based on price, and in so doing, we satisfy customer expectations,” comments Dailly.
Discussing SKF’s commitment and support of the distributor network, Dailly says the SKF strategy is very clear. “We intend to address aftermarket requirements through our distributor network. We see an obligation to provide the best possible support to our network through providing a best-in-class supply chain and supporting their businesses in all key areas – pre- and post-sales. Our support also extends to the appointment of territory managers, in co-operation with our distributors, in the regions. These managers are expected to actively support our distributors by identifying, developing and delivering on opportunities in their respective areas.” Through SKF territory managers, distributors are able to gain direct access to technical and sales support that will facilitate delivery of solutions to customers quickly and seamlessly. Dailly points out that all opportunities identified will be delivered through distribution. “We do not compete with our distributors, but are able to provide another pair of eyes and ears on the ground and another pair of hands for delivering solutions,” adds Dailly.
On the topic of goals, Dailly identifies short term goals: “SKF is re-implementing its ‘MORE with SKF’ programme with existing distributor partners, which essentially builds and executes an operational strategy for each outlet to enable proper alignment and support which is customised for the specific region served by the distributor. Benefits include optimised resourcing, market knowledge, technical training and sales focus.”
“Cognisant of the fact that there are areas in our territories where we do not have adequate representation, another short term goal is to commence with a process in order to gain a better understanding of the market and to identify suitable candidates for appointment as authorised distributors,” explains Dailly. “Our long term goal is to continue strengthening SKF’s presence through the distributor network and delivering the SKF value proposition to build customer loyalty and satisfaction.”
According to Dailly the biggest challenge that customers face is the requirement to “do more with less” and he says that SKF is ideally positioned to help customers optimise their total asset management strategy and increase their return on investment. “This goes well beyond selling bearings at the lowest prices to provide a quick-fix to a broken machine. We will ensure that customers reduce asset down time, have fewer unplanned maintenance interventions and reduce energy consumption.”
In closing, Dailly says, “The best way to safeguard product authenticity is to source SKF products through SKF authorised distributors. As our distributors only stock and sell quality SKF branded products, our customers can buy from any of our 32 authorised SKF distributors with confidence. Our distributor network enables us to supply the full SKF value offering to customers on time, every time, anywhere in the country.”
source: SKF South Africa