Breaking new ground
Caterpillar dealer Mohamed Abdulrahman Al-Bahar is offering a new sales and support package unique to the region.
Think of Caterpillar in the GCC and you think of Mohamed Abdulrahman Al-Bahar. The company, which has been the Caterpillar dealer in most countries of the region since 1959, has long been held in high-regard in terms of the all-round package it provides, and this looks set to continue as it unveils it's latest initiative.
"We're launching a unique programme called 360° Solutions in the UAE," says Sudhir Tripathi, general construction industry manager at Al-Bahar. "It basically bundles together a package that offers machines, financing at reduced interest rates, customer support packages, extended warranty and proper on-site operator training."
This latest initiative is a first in the region and will put Al-Bahar several steps ahead of all other equipment providers, bringing it more into line with what is on offer in Europe and the USA.
"Al-Bahar has always been the trendsetter," says Tripathi. "We pride ourselves on the fact that we try to anticipate and even sometimes create trends based on customer needs.
"We address every potential customer requirement here.
We have specialists with the knowledge to guide the customer into making the right product selection. It's not about selling the customer what we've got, it's about offering what they need and what is best suited for their application."
In terms of operator training, the region has long lagged behind the rest of the world.
However, this is a situation Al-Bahar is working towards rectifying and, with its Regional Training Centre at the company's UAE headquarters, it is again leading the way.
"Our services, in terms of training, are going to be several steps ahead of what anybody else is doing," says Tripathi. "We're providing it and taking it to the next level. We're very conscious about that.
"Every machine that goes out is delivered to customers with handover training," he continues. "When we deliver a machine we make sure that safety, familiarisation and maintenance training is given."
The 360° Solutions package will take the focus on training further. This training is given by Al-Bahar's demonstrators, two of whom have been put through their paces at Caterpillar's training centre in Malaga, Spain, and will pass on their knowledge to customers. The advantages of this extra service are further reaching for the customer than might at first be presumed, reaching all the way to the bottom line.
While safety is of course paramount, having a properly trained operator provides benefits that stretch even further.
"A good operator is not just safe," says Tripathi. "There are productivity enhancing techniques, for example, the positioning of a truck next to a loading tool such as a wheel loader or excavator. Sometimes a truck being even one meter too far can lead to thousands of tonnes of lower productivity per year.
"It's not about how much material you can get in your bucket or how much load you can push," he continues. "Using the machines without proper training increases the wear, you loose tires faster, you burn more fuel, you have to do more maintenance.
"All of these things have an impact on uptimes and our customers' profitability, so we are dedicating more and more resources to reducing the impact on the companies that buy our equipment."
All in all, a properly trained operator can use their machine to the best of its ability and capacity and therefore be more cost-effective. And this is not the only benefit of Caterpillar - Al-Bahar's new 360Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â° Solutions package in terms of the bottom line.
"We will give extra warranty as well," says Tripathi. "Compared with anywhere else in the world our customers put many more hours a year on their equipment here, so warranties tend to run out pretty fast.
"By extending warranty, we're giving customers extra peace of mind. If they complete a project and want to transfer their machine to a different country, the extended warranty goes along with the machine.
"We're also going to give special financing offers and product support options, including maintenance kits, on-site long-term preventive maintenance and inspection and maintenance reports."
This fostering of relationships with customers has proved beneficial to the company itself. "There is now a two-way interaction with our customers, where not only do we approach them with equipment solutions, but customers share with us their long-term equipment requirement. This way we can improve forecasting and have machines available when our customers need to mobilise.
"This is testimony to the fact that the continuous investments we make in people, inventory and infrastructure actually pay off for the customers."
Not content with pushing boundaries in after-sales and training, Al-Bahar is also hoping to make a splash at The Big5 PMV exhibition next month, but Tripathi remains tight-lipped at what might be unveiled. "Let's just say that there will be some nice, exciting products displayed," he says.
"There will definitely be something new at the stand. Potentially some product launches. We are putting all our efforts to make it happen."
So with an innovative new sales package on the horizon, top-class training, product launches in the pipeline and no sign of the construction boom slowing, it's no surprise Tripathi is confident of good times to come.
"There is no doubt about year-on-year growth,' he says, "and nothing points to it stopping anytime in the near future."