From hairdressing student to DP at multi-franchise

As a born and bred Free Stater, who spent a brief period outside the province, it is a question of all roads lead back to central South Africa.

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Celesté Serfontein was appointed the new Dealer Principal of the BB Group in Welkom about a year ago after doing the rounds in different capacities at various dealerships in different towns and cities in the Free State.

After obtaining her matric in Kroonstad and spending a year with an organisation called SCAS, which ministers to people involved in sport, she studied hairdressing, but within a year came to realise that that was not what she wanted to do.

The Haval dealership.

She started with ABSA’s, vehicle and asset financing department, then called Bankfin, and within two years made the transition to the dealer floor where she worked in different capacities at Hyundai, Land Rover and Ford in Bloemfontein and Kroonstad. She also had a short stint in the motor trade in KwaZulu-Natal selling Volkswagens in Pinetown.

She then accepted a position as Sales Manager at Ultra Motors, looking after the Hyundai and Haval GWM brands as well as the pre-owned department. In July 2020, the BB Group bought the business.

“A year later, in November 2021, I was appointed as the Dealer Principal of the three franchises (Hyundai, Haval/GWM and Renault). My years of experience at different dealers definitely played a big part in preparing me for the position as DP,” Celesté tells Dealerfloor.

Celesté Serfontein, DP at BB Group in Welkom.

“We have a great team, and we are in a position now where we can really focus on aspects pertaining to key performance indicators. This put our dealerships in a position to compete with the best in the country and to be in the race for the top awards from the manufacturers.

“It is a hard task that takes a team effort to achieve. Our focus remains on our customers and delivering a standard of service that’s a cut above the rest. Our mix of products on offer is on target, covering a wide spectrum in terms of price and variants.

“I am glad that the used-car market is returning to normality with new stock more readily available. Our conservative approach when stock was scarce and prices high, put us in a fortunate position so that we were not stuck with expensive vehicles on our used-car floor,” she says.

The Hyundai dealership.
The Renault dealership.

Doing business in a place like Welkom, which depends largely on the gold mines, must present serious challenges? “Yes, but although the closure of shafts, is bad news for everyone, the industry is still going, and we serve a wide area that includes a number of smaller towns in the Northern Free State. We also deliver vehicles across the country.

“Our main customer base remains Welkom and the bigger towns surrounding it, like Virginia, Odendaalsrus and Hennenman close by. Notwithstanding local challenges in business conditions and national challenges like the interest-rate increase, I believe in motivating my team to find solutions for any obstacles.

“We adapt to whatever problems may arise and with motivation and skills on the one hand and a competitive product range on the other, we make the business work,” Celesté concludes.

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