SAVRALA is the South African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.
Nissan finished with a combined overall score for the two-phase competition of 70.9 to lead home, Ford/Mazda (67.8), Volkswagen (64.1), Delta Motor Corporation (63.2) and Toyota (61.6).
Nissan was dominant in the Leasing segment, winning the Gold from Ford/Mazda (Silver Award) and Volkswagen (Bronze Award) and again in the Rental section where the company took the Gold ahead of DaimlerChrysler (Silver) and BMW (Bronze).
"Nissan SA went public early this year to our dealers and customers in stating customer satisfaction would be a primary focus area," says Mike Whitfield, sales and marketing director.
"This accolade is graciously received as it reinforces the positive direction showing in our Customer Satisfaction Index and recognises our efforts thus far. Positive reinforcement such as this spurs us on to exceed the benchmark achieved at this point.
"Nissan SA places great importance on the role of the SAVRALA organisation and its members, in fact to such an extent every Nissan employee interfacing with a SAVRALA member organisation has a set Key Performance objective and measurement based on the outcome of these awards. This measurement is instrumental in determining many factors including rewards. We are proud to say we have met and exceeded our 2003 objectives.
"This award positively reinforces the fact Nissan is indeed ?Shifting Expectations? and mirrors the successes we have seen in our fleet market. Nissan SA has seen a year on year sales increase in its Fleet sector of 76%, this on top of a 2002 growth over 2001 of 68%. The independent car rental and leasing sector has shown sales growth of 66%.
"We can confidently say the Nissan product has dramatically increased in terms of fleet purchasing propensity and this award indicates our customer satisfaction reflections are heading in the right direction. It is most pleasing to see customers who would not consider our brand because of perception now becoming satisfied and loyal supporters in our growth."
"Our placing in the 2003 SAVRALA Awards is an excellent achievement for the Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA). We are always delighted when our customers vote positively on our service levels and gaining a SAVRALA Award is an achievement we are particularly proud of," says Roland Reid, fleet operations manager for FMCSA.
"Competition is always tough and our customers are extremely knowledgeable and discerning.
"The Rental and Leasing Industry currently controls or influences one third of all new vehicle purchases in South Africa and the SAVRALA award reflects the market's recognition of the hard work and effort being expended to deliver world class service levels within the South African automotive industry.
"This is also a wonderful reward and recognition for the individuals within the fleet team of FMCSA who contributed towards this achievement. However, we also know that we can do better and we will.
"SAVRALA is the only recognised national body within the fleet market, although only representing a part thereof (the rental and leasing industry). The award and recognition within this important segment is also closely monitored by all major fleet users outside of that industry and is seen as the national benchmark and an excellent representative sample of each manufacturer's performance within the overall fleet arena.
According to Paul de Vantier, managing director of The Smart Practice, which does the research that culminates in the awards each year, the SAVRALA awards have grown significantly in scope and stature in the motor industry in the past few years.
"The survey approach was revamped in April 2000, and in 2001 the survey was refined by conducting the research in two separate rounds in April and September of each year," he says.
"In 2002 there were further refinements and improvements in the process but the key has always been to ensure that the results retain 'trackability' so that trends and improvements can be measured. In total this year 574 rating sheets were received, covering 21 manufacturers dealing with 11 leasing and 12 rental SAVRALA members in South Africa.
"The prime aim of this project is to provide SAVRALA with a reliable and accurate measurement of the performance of the manufacturers in supporting the SAVRALA members. It is important to stress that it is the Service and Support given to the SAVRALA members that is rated - not the vehicles themselves - although obviously the experience with the vehicles will have an influence on how the SAVRALA members feel about the respective manufacturers."
In the analysis process average ratings for each round and overall are calculated separately from the same database which means that in the year end results the results are correctly weighted - in other words the total number of responses received is taken into account when the average is determined.
"In this way the year-end result is a result over the year based on each response received and not the simple average of rounds one and two," says De Vantier.
"In calculating the combined section results the results of the Rental section evaluation and the Leasing section are combined taking into account the number of responses received for each."
The results provide a very good indication of where the manufacturers focus their attention and have proved to be remarkably accurate indicators of activity in the marketplace - changes in policy, shifts in marketing focus or even changes in personnel are very quickly reflected in the SAVRALA ratings.
Competition for the rental and leasing company business in the marketplace is fierce and the scores given to the top five in each section tend to be very close each year.
"The Savrala member responses are generated by consensus of whole teams of their staff who have reason to interface with the manufacturer. This means that the results really do reflect the totality of the member's experience of the manufacturer," says SAVRALA President, John Broadway.
"I would encourage the manufacturer fleet teams to actually work through the survey questions, and their own detailed survey
results, with a number of the Savrala members. This way thay can develop their understanding of member needs and then design service and support solutions accordingly.
"My congratulations to Nissan on their clean sweep of the awards. They really have made great strides recently in their understanding and support of the rental and fleet management member needs".