Patron Saint

JT Fossey Trucks builds long-term relationships with the hardworking businesses in the Tamworth region. John Saint is the Dealer Principal.
John Saint accepts an award from Volvo Group.

In the past 30 years at JT Fossey Trucks in Tamworth, John Saint has sold more than 3,500 new trucks with all but a few being single unit sales.

Prime Mover: Running a truck dealership is a demanding and complex job. What has kept you motivated for all this time?
John Saint: I genuinely love it and I still get a buzz handing keys over. This is a place where a lot of trucks work within the area, and to drive to Gunnedah or Armidale and see two or three of the trucks I’ve built out there earning money for the customers, who respect and look after them, makes for a very proud moment for me. A truck is a significant item that everyone sees, and we do see a lot of our trucks every day of the week.

PM: Are there extra challenges operating away from the capital cities?
JS: I’m fortunate that I’m based in rural Australia. We’ve got good honest fair dinkum people in our area who buy and operate trucks who also want to build solid long-term relations which is what we build our business on.

PM: Why did you pick sales as your career?
JS: I really enjoy meeting new people and helping them realise their future. A lot of items in our world were bought or obtained through a sales person. Sales people vary in the degree of interaction in a given product or service. I use the example of trucks because they are the basis of my selling experience and the industry that I refer to in my sales story. If you are a sales person you enjoy interaction with others and you also enjoy seeing a completed transaction. Think of a conversation which starts about a product and ends in the sale. It’s a transaction between two identities resulting in the change of ownership. I enjoy the challenge and the test of my skills and knowledge. In the truck industry I’ve found a long term relationship takes at least five years to develop and to be realised. It’s important not to push because if you put a good enough proposal forward, it will come back to you.

PM: Is the product you sell important?
JS: The product you are selling needs to be reputable, of sound quality and be represented nationally by other dealers, and globally by the franchise organisation. The truck industry is transient, so having locations throughout the country is particularly important to making sure the product is supported during normal servicing and breakdown situations. Dealership relations are extremely important in these situations. The product needs to be fit for the intended business and the job at hand. The specifications need to be right for the operation, image, driver acceptance, safety, economical operation, ease of service and repair and aftersales support.

PM: What do you consider is your key to success?
JS: Believe that you own the business —it’s your company, lock, stock and barrel. Stop doing the things you know you should not be doing and start doing the things you know you should be doing. The road to sustained successful selling depends upon the good and the right things you say and do every day. Time is a valuable tool, so make the most of it. Everyone wants to be successful and respected for what they do, and a good salesperson has to earn this.

PM: What do you see as the key factors in selling trucks specifically?
JS: I’ve always based my selling on getting to know the customer, things such as what they need and what are the most important points for them and then designing a truck specification and formulating a deal around that. It’s understanding what they want, what they need to achieve, how long they want to use it for, and then building the truck to suit all of that. You can still make adjustments as you go along. Some of the conversations we might have during the sale process can be far from talking about trucks. It can be an historical overview about where they’ve been in their own operation and where they want to go. My reputation is built around people wanting security in their dealing, where they talk with someone who knows what they are doing, who can deliver what they want and then make sure they are going to be supported afterwards. It’s important that sort of grounding is in our sales strategy.

John Saint at his office in Tamworth.
John Saint at his office in Tamworth.

PM: Is that diagnostic process preferable to simply selling them a particular truck because you’ve got one sitting on the lot?
JS: That happens more often than you might think. People often over spec for what they really need to achieve, and this results in trucks that disappoint in terms of the expectations of economic and efficiency factors, as well as driver acceptance. There are a lot of things that go into the pot when we start talking about what truck to buy and can include having reference back to previous sales, customer testimonials, my own experience in the industry, and what they believe they want from a truck. All those things go together and we design a truck specifically around each customer’s key requirements.

PM: Although you’re clearly at the top of the management structure, you don’t do it all on your own. What support do you have?
JS: It’s teamwork from day one! Unless they are on the same page in understanding their role in the team every day, it won’t work. Over the years I’ve learned a lot and I want to continue to do so, but I also want to help others who are in a similar situation trying to get established.

PM: What are important attributes for your dealership team?
JS: It’s important for all of our staff to have an understanding of why we are here and why we do what we do every day, and understanding that the customer is committed to our dealership for the product and support and that we need to deliver that back at the same level they have invested in us. We need our people to feel they are contributing. We share customer feedback both good and bad. Having a sense of urgency, having the required knowledge and having empathy for the customer are factors we work on every day. Our inductions for new team members are quite extensive so they get an immediate understanding about how it all works.

PM: You started your working life as a wool classer. If you hadn’t got into selling trucks, what might you have done?
JS: I’ve always wanted to buy a hotel. I’ve always wanted my own restaurant because I reckon I could create the point of difference which would attract people even if they don’t know why they are attracted. I believe that’s why I’m successful in my selling because I can find that point of difference.

PM: What’s the future look like?
JS: We’re going into a whole new world now with electric vehicles and hydrogen power and I think Volvo are well and truly out in front. It’s going to be interesting working with them.

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