Caretaker economy: How slower growth could be driving superior service

How the Gulf’s experience of a construction slowdown in some quarters, and a new normal of steady but modest growth in others, is driving customer service

COMMENT, PMV, Aftersales, Ashok Leyland, Customer service, PMV Middle East, PMV Power List

Aftersales is a theme splashed almost disproportionately across the pages of the July 2017 issue of PMV, and I cannot help but think that this may be a reflection of the new times we live in.

From both the individual discussions that PMV has had with leading figures in the industry to the profiles in the Power List, it the clear that original equipment manufacturers and OEM suppliers are paying more attention than ever before to the means of ensuring support for their product in the market.

Product itself remains just as important of course, and the parallel trend of the tailoring of vehicles and equipment to the requirements of the region continues to strengthen — with the efforts of Ashok Leyland serving as but one example in this month’s issue.

However, the sheer mass of manufacturers and distributors now stressing the lengths and pains that they are going to in developing the breadth and depth of their sales and service facilities in the region is profound.

It is yet another indicator of the ongoing and strengthening appreciation for any edge that delivers lower total cost of ownership in Middle East markets, in the wake of the low oil price-induced sense of austerity in the region.

One victim in the market in the wake of this business-oriented approach is potentially wasta, the distinct sense of strong interpersonal ties between individuals in the region.

Business will always be about relationships, but at this point I can no longer remember the last time I heard a participant in the industry recall how they prioritised their personal ties over the practicalities of how and where they would get their product serviced.

On the contrary, over the course of the last 12 months, and as discussed in previous editor’s letters, there has been a discernible trend in the region whereby PMV manufacturers have been breaking their long-standing relationships with distributors in favour or parties that are viewed as offering a more dynamic aftersales service.

In the Big Interview this month, PMV also explores how Nasser Bin Abdullatif Alserkal is working with the Dubai Municipality to deliver what may be the first in a new generation of commercial vehicles service centres that provide services to mixed fleets, further broadening the playing field of aftersales services in the region.

For fleet operators, the region is fast becoming a much better place to be a customer.

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