“You must embrace every lead and every clue to close a deal. You must do everything within your power to retain clients and keep them interested and happy even if you cannot supply them immediately with a specific vehicle.
So says Derick Lochner, Dealer Principal at Vredendal Toyota, on the border of Namaqualand and the West Coast region in the north-western part of the Western Cape.
“With the shortage of certain models owing to the interruption of the international supply chain, we have to pamper relationships with our customers. We do our utmost to assist clients and source specific vehicles from other dealerships if they are available,” Derick tells Dealerfloor.
“The local economy in Vredendal is dominated by the agricultural sector, with about 85% of sales coming from the farming community. It is predominantly vineyards on the banks of the Olifants River where grapes are grown for the wine industry and a smaller portion of mixed farming with livestock such as sheep.
“The ban on alcohol sales as part of the lockdown measures, hit the industry hard. When the tractors hauling grapes fell silent, the whole town took note. Now they are on the move again and there is a buzz in town about business getting back to normal, at least normal under the circumstances related to this pandemic,” Derick says.
“We have seen a tendency that, even before the arrival of COVID-19, farmers were keeping their vehicles for a longer period before replacing them. Since about two years ago, the cycle was about three years before trading in a bakkie for a new one. We are now up to four to four and a half years.
“Enough stock or rather the shortage of enough stock, could prolong or aggravate this situation. The same goes for the used-car sector where you pay a premium price for good stock but you are limited when it comes to pricing and trying to re-sell competitively. We are, however, facing the challenges that are affecting everyone in this industry head-on.
“Although bakkies are our main business based on the large agricultural sector in and around Vredendal, our other ranges remain popular like the new Corolla and especially the new Toyota Starlet, which is in demand from a price and value for money point of view,” he says.
Asked about his personal life, Derick says he grew up in the district. “I had my own business before joining the Mercedes-Benz team where I spent 15 years. I have been with Vredendal Toyota for the last year and a half now,” he tells Dealerfloor.
Vredendal Toyota is part of the Bluedust Motor Holdings Group with a sister company, Claremont Holdings Group. It has several dealerships covering different brands in Vredendal (VW, Toyota), Kuruman (Ford), Malmesbury (Haval, Kia), Outshoorn (Ford), Claremont (Audi, VW), West Coast (Ford), and Table View (VW). It is owned by two brothers, Joubert and Hendrik Roux.
Despite the severe drought in large parts of the Karoo, the motor business in Graaff-Reinet is stepping up with more brands being represented in this part of the world.
If a pandemic and stock issues aren’t enough of a challenge, why not add a building project/dealership revamp/moving of facilities and getting a second dealership to full independent dealership status to a DP’s list of tasks.
Scott Auto Mazda in Bethlehem has a proud history that stretches back nearly 50 years, which makes them one of the best-known Mazda dealers in the Free State.