The importance of community involvement can never be underestimated. Especially when your business’ area of responsibility includes rural towns and communities, where the slow economy has taken its toll.
Chris Labuschagne, Dealer Principal of Oranje Toyota in Welkom firmly believes this, and this is why the dealer joined forces with a school farmers in the town of Hoopstad in the Free State to help make a difference.
Oranje Toyota Welkom has donated a Toyota Hilux to the winning farmer of the Mielieboer 2020 project to raise funds for Hoopstad High School.
“This is a case where it serves a good purpose for a community and its school, but also makes good business sense for us a vehicle dealer. A Hilux-bakkie and farming goes hand in hand. Toyota has a strong and very loyal following in and around Hoopstad. We will re-evaluate the success of our involvement on an annual basis,” he told Dealerfloor.
Chris says building a good relationship with the surrounding community makes good business sense. “If you have a good relationship with people or communities, they will support your business. People buy from people and that is why our involvement is so important,” he according to him.
“Like I mentioned Hoopstad is in our area of responsibility which means it is a part of our trading area. We are also continuously looking at ways to increase our market share. Hoopstad is an important farming district contributing a lot towards the national food basket. And everyone knows the difficulties these smaller towns experience,” he says.
“A good school with hostels, good facilities for education and sport is considered an anchor in communities to help maintain the existence of that community. For this reason, we decided to participate in this project,” says to Chris.
For the Mielieboer 2020 competition, between 12 and 15 farmers grow a special crop of maize on one hectare of their land. This is donated to the school, with the farmer with the highest yield winning. A team from the school verified and marked all the allocated hectares of each participant.
This year the first place and title of Mielieboer 2020 went to Johendrie Boerdery, a farming enterprise, belonging to the Roos family in the Hoopstad district. They received the Toyota Hilux 2.4 GD-6 singe cab-bakkie to use for a year or 35 000 kilometres with the option of buying it at a reduced cost at the end of the term.
They yielded 13.13 tons per hectare and depending on the maize price per ton on the day, it could be anywhere between R2 500 and R3 000 for a ton. The second prize winner received a small John Deere tractor, and the third prize was various chemicals used in maize production.
On a different note Chris told Dealerfloor that Oranje Toyota in Welkom has recently started to do vehicles services on Saturdays and not only weekdays.
“We realise that Welkom is the shopping hub for a number of smaller towns and communities in our area. Especially people from the farming communities visit Welkom on the weekends. Toyota owners van now make a booking and leave their vehicle with us for a regular service.
“They can then in the mean-time do their shopping. This new way of operating helps especially farmers to reduce the downtime during the week by taking a day out of their working schedule to bring the vehicle to the city. We have alle the standard service ready,” Chris says.
True empowerment must be visible and sustainable. The transfer of expertise and knowledge is crucial to make it a success, and last but not the least, all parties must invest in the venture.
Namaqualand is an unforgiving region, and during the current prolonged drought, farmers can suffer. It can also be a paradise in the flower season bringing much needed tourists to this remote part of the country.
Kia South Africa rewarded its top-performing dealerships across the country with numerous prizes for outstanding achievements in sales, after sales and service operations.