Award is the cherry on top

It was a dream come true for Nico Pretorius of Lichtenburg Toyota, when the dealership received the Toyota President’s Award for Dealer of the Year in the category for small dealerships.

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“It was the cherry on top for the last four years of hard work by a very dedicated team here in Lichtenburg, not to mention the support from our owners at the Motor Centre Group, like Yusuf Dada and Johann Snyman of Rustenburg Toyota,” Nico tells Dealerfloor.

He took over as Dealer Principal around four years ago and immediately began implementing a business plan where every single aspect of the business was put under the microscope. The aim was to run every department as efficiently as possible and to invest in the team that must deliver the results. Costs, productivity and customer care are the driving forces that ensure success in our kind of business.

At the Toyota awards ceremony are Andrew Kirby (President and CEO of TSAM), Nico Pretorius and Leon Theron (Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing ).

“I try to be involved across the spectrum and to make sure every deal is closed as no business can afford to lose money. We won the award owing to our efficiency in all our departments that led to an excellent target vs actual success. Our management team consists of Barend Pasques (After Sales Manager), Juan Slabbert (Automark), Christo Cronjé (New Vehicle Sales) and Evert Haywood (Financial Manager),” he says.

Barend Pasques was also appointed a Knight by Toyota South Africa, a special title for an elite group of people who excelled in their respective areas of work. In his case, his excellent handling of the After Sales department was the best in the country.

The management team at Lichtenburg Toyota: Christo Cronjé (Sales Manager), Evert Haywood (Financial Manager), Juan Slabbert (Automark Manager), Barend Pasques (After-sales Manager) and Nico Pretorius (Dealer Principal).

Nico is convinced that the plan implemented four years ago also resulted in their successful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic the last two years and the current stock shortages of new vehicles. But anyone following the news would also know about other problems in this North West town.

“It is public knowledge that a big cheese factory decided to relocate because of the well-nigh unbearable conditions in Lichtenburg. These include problems relating to infrastructure like roads, water, electricity and service delivery in general.

“We are in the process of installing solar panels, and we already have a borehole and water tanks to try and circumvent issues related to this. On the upside is the excellent rainfall we have had this season that has seen the agriculture sector booming.

“Although there are other industries in Lichtenburg, such as one of the largest cement factories in the southern hemisphere, the crucial agricultural sector – specifically maize and sunflower production – forms an important part of our business. Hiluxes and Fortuners are extremely popular here. The Toyota Land Cruiser, which is still in short supply, is considered by many as an essential farming implement and the farm vehicle that rules the roost,” Nico says.

Marlette Smit (Lichtenburg Toyota), Leon Theron (Senior Vice-President Sales & Marketing) and Annalie Lerm (Manager Sales & Business Toyota SA).

When it comes to community involvement, Nico says it is something they take very seriously. “We are committed and in the last 14 months played a pivotal role to raise more than R1.1 million rand. This money was used for different projects in our region and nationally. We also collected 1.56 tonnes of dog and cat food for local animal shelters.

“Our involvement stretches over 11 community projects, one ongoing project and five customer projects. The projects and the assistance we render include a variety of activities and beneficiaries, including disadvantaged communities, relief assistance for farmers in drought-stricken areas in the Karoo, old age homes, animal shelters and schools. This is handled and driven by Marlette Smit ( who was recently awarded the Robin Hood Knight Award by Toyota South Africa for all her efforts and achievements in this regard.

Nico, who studied B Com Financial Management, grew up in the motor retail environment. His dad was the DP at the Toyota Dealership in Brits, and from a young age he knew what his career path would be.

“I spent a couple of years at our other branch, Rustenburg Toyota, first as a sales executive at the Automark used car division, then with new vehicles and later as New Vehicle Sales Manager under Johann Snyman, the DP there. I was then promoted to DP at Lichtenburg Toyota,” Nico tells Dealerfloor.

  • The Motor Group’s head office is in Botswana where they also have five Toyota dealerships, as well as Mercedes-Benz, Jeep, Land Rover and Lexus with two dealerships in South-Africa, Rustenburg Toyota and Lichtenburg Toyota.
The Toyota dealership in Lichtenburg.

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