A dealership connecting with the community

If we’re not willing to sell a specific car to our mothers, then we are not selling it to a customer.

Car X1

The principle behind this relatively simple motto is the way Car Connexion, an award-winning used car dealership in East London, lives by.

Car Connexion was recently awarded the top spot in the category for small dealerships in the non-franchise division of the Absa Golden Partner Awards.

What makes the winning of the prestigious award even more meaningful, is the fact that the dealership was started in the beginning of 2019. Today, Car Connexion includes four dealerships – Car Connexion Beacon Bay (East London), Bakkie Connexion (East London), Car Connexion Amalinda (East London) and Car Connexion in Newcastle. the company recently also opened a new workshop.

David Bernstein, Joan Kriek and Kyle Hart.

The business is also well-known in East-London for its extensive community involvement. Car Connexion started a small clean-up campaign by hiring a few unemployed people to help clean beaches, parks and streets in East London.

With time, these efforts gained serious traction and the group has managed to get over 20 businesses to join the campaign. The project now does clean-ups on a daily basis, and the assistance of an NPO, which now runs the day-to-day operations of the project and now also includes a recycling element, has been enlisted.

Car Connexion also bought hundreds of litres of sanitiser just before the lockdown and distributed it for free to taxi drivers at the taxi ranks to help curb the spread of COVID-19. They got involved in various other community initiatives and even did a drought-relief fundraiser for farmers in the area when the drought was at its worst.

The business belongs to three partners, David Bernstein, Kyle Hart and Darron Gudmanz. David and Kyle are involved full-time with the running of the business.

The Amalinda branch of car Connexion in East-London.

Dealerfloor spoke to David about Car Connexion and their achievement over such a short period.

“We believe in excellence when it comes to customer service and would go far and beyond our responsibility to assist customers even when we are not obliged to do so. By going the extra mile, you ensure repeat business as well as many monthly referrals.

“Our reputation is important, and we believe our extensive community involvement also pays dividends when it comes to selling cars. We live and work in this community and that is our bread and butter,” he says.

David says the 12 months ended March this year, have been their best so far, despite the abnormal business conditions since the arrival of the pandemic. “Stock shortages and high stock prices are currently a definite hurdle and in addition, it is getting more and more difficult to get the required approvals owing to equity at the banks. I believe these issues will be with us for the foreseeable future,” he says.

Another part of our success is our extensive marketing campaigns on social media. We boast one of the largest Facebook followings in our business with more than 35 000 followers. We use this platform to communicate daily with our loyal clients and it gives the community a good understanding of who we are and what we do.

The Car Connexion dealership in Newcastle.

He adds: “Because I was heavily involved with wholesaling of vehicles before establishing the retail business, I know where to source vehicles in these difficult times.

“We are fortunate to adapt our offerings to customers quickly, depending on their needs and the availability of vehicles. We sell a wide variety of stock, from cheapies in the region of R80 000 to your more exclusive sport cars like Nissan GTRs, Porsches, and we have even had a Ferrari 458 for sale. On the ever important bakkie side, we are managing to sell every bakkie that we can possibly lay our hands on.

Asked about the value of the award and the prospects for the future, David concluded that the award means so much to them. “We could not have done it without the help of a brilliant F&I, Joan Kriek, as well as what I believe is the best ABSA business development officer in South Africa, Sarah Davis. We are super proud of the achievement and have now moved up to the medium category, which we are confident of winning in 2021.

“Some difficult times might still lay ahead in the short term with new car prices rising and combined with lower sales will put pressure on the used car market as well. But we are optimistic that the tide will turn, and better days await us all.”

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