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INSIGHT - Investment in Training And Product Support Go Hand-In-Hand

By Steve Takacs, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Toyota Material Handling Australia

It's always been the case that selling a good product at a competitive price is only part of the story - but now more than ever providing the best after-sales service and back-up is of critical importance.

Our customers expect much more than just a great material handling solution at a great price, and rightly so. They're after a partnership, one that gives them the security of knowing they'll be looked after long after the initial purchase.

Backed by the strength of the Toyota brand, Toyota Material Handling has always delivered in this regard. A lot of this is down to what goes on behind the scenes, so I'd like to take the opportunity to give you a brief insight into TMHA's investment in its technicians that enables us to provide the top after-sales service and support we are justifiably proud of.

For more than 12 years TMHA has conducted its own in-house 'step training' program for its technicians. This is hands-on, product-based training that ensures we have a pool of experts around the country who can diagnose problems and fix them, across all of our Toyota, BT and Raymond equipment.

The first stage of the three-step program includes four online training modules that cover topics like electronics, hydraulics and background on Toyota as a company globally.

Stage two involves trainers who specialise in each of the three brands we represent - Toyota, BT and Raymond - travelling to each of our TMHA branches nationally to conduct two to three days of training for our branch technicians.

This comprehensive program focuses on keeping technicians safe by pointing out potential hazards. It also includes component identification and instruction on how to configure each piece of equipment for different customers.

In the final of the three steps our technicians come to our head office in Sydney and take part in a training exercise where four forklifts or reach trucks are set up with different problems, and the technicians pair up to go through each truck, diagnose the problems and fix them.

Our aim is to have as many of our technicians trained to stage three level as possible. Of about 460 technicians and 50 apprentices in our branches nationally, more than two-thirds are step-three trained at any one time.

That's a high percentage given the fact the travel and training time needs to be balanced with the daily work requirements at each branch.

It means that at all times we have highly trained technicians in each of our TMH branches who are ready and able to provide our customers with the best technical support possible, while passing on their knowledge and expertise to others.

This annual training program is only part of the story. Each year we also hold a national skills competition involving our fully qualified technicians and apprentices. The best of the best travel to our Sydney headquarters to battle it out for prizes and the right to be crowned the leaders in their field.

Of course, our customers never need consider what goes into maintaining a skilled team of technicians - and nor should they. This is a huge commitment, but it's one we're happy to make to ensure our customers have the peace of mind of knowing they've partnered with an organisation that has their back.

2016 National Skills Contestant participant Shayne Marsh with mentor Ray Billet.