When faced with adverse circumstances, you adopt your business plan and focus on what you can do with what you have.
Every dealer has been confronted by the same obstacles over the past two years. For Weskaap Motors in Vredenburg on the West Coast, they decided to tackle it by focusing on used cars like never before.
“It is this recipe that carried us through COVID and which helped us when the local economy took a nose-dive after the closure of Saldanha Steel a couple of years ago. It is also the strategy that has kept us going now that stock supply on our new side is still inconsistent,” says Burger Viljoen one of the owners and Dealer Principal at Weskaap Motors with Renault Vredenburg and Mitsubishi Vredenburg under its wing.
The dealership was established back in 1984 as Delta and then became General Motors. When GM packed their bags and left our shores, the Renault franchise was acquired in 2017 and Mitsubishi added in 2018 in a full-fledged multi-franchise set-up.
“Vredenburg, which lies close to Saldanha Bay and other smaller towns (like the well-known Paternoster), struggles with high unemployment after the steel plant ceased its manufacturing operations in 2020.
“On the positive side, we have tourism as attraction and the Sishen Saldanha railway line that is used to export iron ore.
“With new vehicles scarce and certain model ranges limited in supply, we put a huge effort into our used car division, which helped us to not only keep our doors open during COVID, but we are also proud that we did not have to lay off staff during the different crises new car dealerships faced back then and now,” Burger tells Dealerfloor.
“We worked hard to retain clients and keep the workshop busy. Our staff complement is split 50/50 between the two brands, and I oversee both Renault and Mitsubishi," says Burger who spent 20 years on the financing side in the bank before venturing into the vehicle retail business.
“On the Mitsubishi side of the business, the ASX and the Pajero remain popular, while on the Renault side, the Kiger is doing very well. Unfortunately, one of our stalwarts on the Renault side, the Duster, is virtually unobtainable in part owing to the war in Europe, where a number of parts are manufactured in the countries involved in the conflict.
“Our dealerships have both been finalists in the two manufactures’ Dealer of the Year contests. We remain positive about the future and our region. I know that uncertainty makes it difficult to forecast as to when a more normal situation will return at this stage. We have survived so far, and I firmly believe circumstances will improve, hopefully sooner rather than later,” Burger concludes.
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