In this interview with Transport Day, Managing Director of CFAO Yamaha Motor Nigeria Limited, Mr. Boye Ajayi, talks on sundry issues. By Frank Kintum
You have been involved in different segments of the economy, why did you opt to accept this offer in a segment you have not really dealt with before?
That’s an interesting question and people ask me that a lot of times. For me, I’m an avid learner, I like learning new things, I like challenges and one of the ways to improve myself is to always try new things and even though it’s a sector I haven’t worked in before and didn’t have experience in but I felt there were skills that were transferrable that I already had in my previous work experiences, and also I have worked in other organisations in the past that dealt with consumer goods from Peak milk to Etisalat where we dealt directly with customers. In my experience in dealing with corporate and government, Yamaha is an embodiment of that because we have products that are for corporate and consumers. So for me it was the excitement of the opportunity to be part of something new and be part of a multinational organisation that is localised. When you think of CFAO Yamaha, you find two big multinationals, CFAO headquartered in France, Yamaha headquartered in Japan coming together to form something locally in Nigeria.
What is your impression so far on the job?
I have found it quite interesting, and it has offered a lot of opportunities to meet people like you, to meet other people like ANACOWA (All Nigeria Autobike Commercial Workers Association), my other colleagues in other organisations that also deal with motorcycles and other products that we do. I have found it quite interesting from the team of people that we have working, we have a very strong team, to the leadership within both of our shareholders-CFAO and Yamaha coming together to make something successful, that passion to always keep solving problems and creating solutions have been an interesting one for me and when you also work for an organisation that has such high reputation for making high quality products that actually enhance and solve the problems that people have like CFAO Yamaha has, we are proud to be part of the people that create solutions rather than creating problems because when it comes to our motorcycle business, we essentially solve problems like mobility, not just to help people get from point A to point B but also to help people who make this as a form of livelihood, we give them a product that enhances their business and improve their own earning power, those are the things that we are trying to work on because we realise that we exist for the customers.
What do you find fascinating about the CFAO brand and the Yamaha product?
That’s going to invoke an emotional response from me. For me, when I think of CFAO, I’m proud of what they are doing, they are very few companies that you will find all over the world that would have representation in almost all countries in Africa, CFAO is present in all African countries in one form or the other except in 3 or 4 countries, that’s probably one of the things that drew me to them. When I find a global company with French origin having that much interest, understanding and passion for my continent. And when you think of Yamaha, Yamaha is a world class company in its own rights in terms of technology, making products that actually enhances the lives of people, so when these two people are able to come together and doing that in my country, I find that to be a perfect mix.
One of the issues that comes up especially for Japanese products, narrowing down to Yamaha is the issue of cost, so how do you handle this?
We are able to find cheaper products, way cheaper but what you find often times is that they compromise on quality, for example you might be looking at a product and when you see an alternative, the alternative might be 10-20% cheaper. But one of the things we need to learn as consumers especially in Nigeria is to be able to look at the total cost of the product, so the cost of the product is not just the cost at which you buy the product but what you are actually going to spend on that product throughout its lifespan, maintaining it and other things like that, so that’s why if you think about it, some people find it better, that’s more affordable for them in the long run to buy a brand new car than a used car because the cost you will spend on fuel economy, warranty, maintenance, you will get more value on your brand new car.
We do not pride ourselves as being the cheapest product on the market, that is not our value proposition, but what we pride ourselves in is that when you look at the total cost of ownership, no one beats Yamaha products because of fuel economy. When it comes to the maintenance and service cycle, we lead. We tell an average rider if you use Yamaha, at the end of the year, you will have saved a minimum of N36,000 or up to a N120,000 depending on which products you are comparing in the market. So if for that you are asked to pay an extra of N10,000-N15,000 to acquire it, you will see that it’s worth the investment. So, it’s like you pay a bit more upfront and over 3-4 months you have already recouped that investment, then you enjoy the benefits going forward.
So it’s our ability to educate and demonstrate this to the consumers, that’s what is important to us and not just talk about it because everybody will come up to you and say I have the best products. We do practical tests, we go in the field. And when it comes to our fuel economy, we tell you put one litre in a motorcycle, put one litre in a Yamaha motorcycle, go from point A to point B, drain the fuel at the end of the day then you will be able to see what both consumes.
Will it be safe to say that Yamaha motorcycles are the most fuel efficient?
Yes, in this market. One of the things that you will appreciate in Yamaha is that we spend a lot of time studying the market, studying what the customers need and come up with an appropriate solution. For example, the new product that we launched in September to the market, we have been testing it in Nigeria for over one year. So we boast that we have the most fuel efficient motorcycles in the market.
This is a special blend of oil that has been formulated by Yamaha for motorcycles, so rather than using mixed oil that some people use or even some branded oil that are meant for motor vehicles, you are supposed to use our oil.
When you look at the benefits of it to whatever you compare it to, you make huge savings. A lot of commercial riders which we commonly call okada do oil change every week or every two weeks and with our own oil, we are able to double that time, so we tell them rather than change every week and you buy your oil at N700, add a little bit extra on top of that and get a Yamaha oil and double the time you spend before you have to maintain your motorcycle, if you look at that over a 12 months period, it comes out to huge savings of at least N30,000 just by servicing compared to using any other oil.