“When your staff is happy, your customers are happy. Happy customers today are more important than ever before.”
Talking to Dealerfloor is Willie Gresse, Sales Director of Upington Volkswagen and one of the three Gresse brothers who owns and runs this dealership. It is one of only threeVolkswagen Dealerships in the Northern Cape and the only independent dealership for the brand in this province.
“We have a solid staff component at our dealership with two Sales Executives each with more than 25 years of service and a number of other employees with a decade of service or more.
“Our staff turnover is extremely low. I believe our employee retention is thanks to training people in the different positions and creating opportunities at the dealership. If you uplift people, they grow and become better and satisfied workers. They become family.
“A number of our staff have international certification from Volkswagen that bodes well with customers and the reputation of the dealership. If your staff is not right, your business is not right. Like I mentioned earlier – happy staff equals happy customers,” says Willie.
He added that the staff component together with community involvement are the main reasons for their success and achievements. “In a close-knit community like Upington involvement through sponsorships, be it from rugby to lawns bowling, golf to exhibitions and saying thank you to customers with activities like 4x4 trips in the Kalahari, all need to be done.”
With his two brothers, Conrad who fulfils the role of Dealer Principal and JC in the Aftersales department, they took the dealership to new heights. Upington Volkswagen is a member of Volkswagen South Africa’s exclusive Club of Excellence, which honours the ten top dealers in the country.
This achievement, considered Upington’s relative remote location on the banks of the Orange River and the Kalahari Desert close to the southern borders of Botswana and Namibia, makes this an impressive accomplishment.
“Upington is reliant on the farming community with export grapes one of the major economic activities here. The winemaking-industry suffered with the ban on the sale of liquor recently as part of the stricter COVID-19 measures, but fortunately it has been lifted.
The testing of especially German vehicles in this region as part of their development before production, grinned to a halt during the pandemic, but Willie says they are optimistic it will resume soon. “The testing contributed a lot to the local economy as well as the establishing of solar farms in our area. Both activities brought people to the town which benefits a wide range of business,” he says.
Asked about the local popularity of different ranges in their brand, Willie says Volkswagen is placed well with a rather large range of SUVs that is gaining traction with more and more sales. “Our bread and butter-ranges still are the VW Polo en VW Vivo selling in large numbers and are proving to be very resilient in the current market.
“The Amarok continue on its path and with the bakkie-range now in its eleventh year, we are looking forward to a new series somewhere in 2022/23. Hopefully, this will include more single- and club-cab like versions at the entry levels side to find traction with a wide customer base”, Willie says.
Utilising an aggressive marketing campaign has paid off, Willie says around 30% of their sales, including used vehicles, are away from their direct surroundings. “We do a lot of online marketing and as a result I have people on the road basically every day delivering vehicles as far as Durban and in Gauteng.”
In terms of their current premises Willie tells Dealerfloor
they are busy with plans for a brand-new dealership in the next two years, as space at the current dealership is limited and to get their used and new car sections all under one roof on the same premises
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.
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