At a dealership far, far away in the north

Musina Toyota can rightly claim to be the Northernmost vehicle dealership in South Africa.

Toy Musina11

Situated close to the Beitbridge border post with Zimbabwe, this dealership is just shy of 2 000 kilometres away from Cape Agulhas, our southern point.

So, how is business so far north and quite remote from any other bigger towns? And dare we ask about the ‘normal’ temperatures of well above the 40 degree-mark that is the rule rather than the exception during summer? And what is it like to be the only OEM dealer in town?

Jaco van der Merwe (Dealer Principal) at Toyota Musina

Dealerfloor spoke to Jaco van der Merwe, Dealer Principal at CFAO Motors’ Toyota dealership in Musina. He has been with the dealership for 22 years and took over as DP five years ago when the dealership, which was privately owned, was sold to CFAO Motors.

“Doing business here presents its own unique challenges. You mentioned hot temperatures, which are a given but not strange to us living here. Things in our workshop can get heated and we do our utmost to make the working conditions as bearable as possible. Fortunately, no heated arguments just high temperatures and satisfied customers.

“The ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions do hinder business as we have a substantial number of service customers from Zimbabwe. It is more difficult for them to bring their vehicles for service and maintenance as an expensive test is required before entering South Africa,” Jaco tells Dealerfloor.

“In Musina we have the Venetia diamond mine from De Beers and a number of game farms in the region that lend stability to the town and broader region. We have close business relationships with both entities, which were less affected by the restrictions than other sectors might have been.

Lizette Groenewald (Sales Manager) and Reuben Rossouw (After Sales Manager).

“Seeing that our traditional area of responsibility is limited with the border cutting us off in the north and with no big towns close by, we treasure our corporate and individual clients, and the retention of customers in a close-knit community like ours is of the utmost importance.

“Everyone in our community knows everyone else. We deal with a client base that stretches back more than one generation, and our good name and solid reputation ensure the repeat business.

“My Aftersales Manager, Reuben Rossouw, and our Sales Manager, Lizette Groenewald, and I have all been at this dealership for more than 20 years. This consistency and familiarity with the people of Musina are huge benefits for the business and for our customers.

“Although we are the only OEM in Musina, we are well aware that technology like the Internet can let anyone do business here. We can never let our guard down. In our community, honesty and communication with clients are essential for survival during the current conditions. Never keep clients guessing. If a client understands exactly what causes the delay of a delivery or availability and is kept in the loop, he or she is more at ease,” he says.

Toyota in Musina.

Jaco says the remoteness of Musina makes the dealership rely on trade-ins to sustain the used car side of the business. “With new stock shortages it does bring challenges as we cannot quickly go somewhere else to find good stock. The fact that we are around 200 km from the nearest big town means we have to plan every venture very carefully. I must say, we are assisted tremendously by the CFAO Motors Group with the procurement of used vehicles.”

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