Human Auto is not only a landmark in the Free State and Northern Cape, but it’s a familiar name to many businesses throughout South Africa.
The group of Ford dealerships in Bloemfontein, Welkom and Kimberley is well known in the two provinces, but its business interests stretch much further. Some large fleet owners throughout the country do business with Human Auto, which has its own Fleet Manager looking after the needs of this important client base.
Human Auto was born from the vision of Barnie Human, a businessman in Bloemfontein. He started Human & Kie in 1950, which later became Human Motors that relocated to its current premises in the City of Roses during 1969.
Human Motors branched out to Kimberley in 1958 and Welkom in 1960. Over the years, different vehicle brands were sold through the three Human Motors outlets till years later when it transformed into exclusive Ford dealerships after the Ford and Mazda brands separated seven years ago. A service outlet was opened in Ficksburg in recent years.
Today known as Human Auto, Jacques Strydom, grandson of Barnie Human, owns and runs the business that expanded rapidly over the last couple of decades with Pine Pienaar acting as the Group Executive and link between the DPs and the owner.
Human Auto scooped up the much sought-after Group Dealer of The Year honours from Ford South Africa for 2020, while the Bloemfontein dealership was runner-up as Dealer of the Year in Category A (for large dealerships) with several other accolades awarded to the Bloemfontein dealership.
Dealerfloor spoke to Des Williams, Dealer Principal, at the flagship branch in Bloemfontein about current business conditions and the outlook for the future.
Des was born and bred in Welkom and joined Human Auto after completing his schooling. Later, he moved to Bloemfontein as the Sales Manager and in 2013 became the Dealer Principal.
“No denying the going is tough with stock shortages topping the list. Fewer new cars mean fewer trade-ins with a negative effect on the pre-owned side of the business as well. Quality used cars are scarce and prices high.
“We are nevertheless optimistic, with renewed focus on what we could build on and expand like our After Sales Department. We make sure the workshop runs at full capacity, and we made an effort to get more clients of older model Fords to bring in their vehicles for servicing. We are also servicing other makes of vehicles.
“On the parts side, our salespeople visit panel beaters, repair shops and other users of parts on a regular basis to facilitate the sale of spare parts. We are actively bringing in business, putting expenses under the magnifying glass, going out of our way to ensure exceptional customer service, and we work tirelessly sourcing vehicles,” Des tells Dealerfloor.
“You can only do this with good leadership and a committed team that is like a family. The slogan ‘Be Human’ is fitting for our Group as investment in people is the foundation of success and for the strength to overcome these troubled times we are experiencing in the industry. We have a low staff turn-over with a number of people having been with us for many decades now.”
Des says they put in a huge effort with online and social media marketing campaigns. “We have an expert company involved in this new way of doing business, and we have staff who constantly monitor the interaction between visitors and prospective clients on different media platforms.
“The new way of getting your message out there is here to stay, even with the relaxing of restrictions relating to the pandemic. We have seen a dramatic increase in this way of conducting business and less floor traffic at the dealership itself. We are proud of our continuous innovation as it yields positive results.
“I am looking forward to the future. We are part of an amazing business, and the outlook for the products we are selling, is great. We might have suffered some extra problems regarding stock shortages owing to Ford’s manufacturing plant closing for a short period. However, we see the bigger picture and the prospects it holds.
“The new plant will produce bakkies in even greater numbers for local consumption and the export market. We are looking forward to the new Ranger arriving next year and a new Everest, and in 2023 we can expect an all-electric Ford Mustang on local shores.
“The future does indeed look bright for us. I am positive and thankful and know we are heading in the right direction,” Des concludes.
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