Michelle’s road to success as DP

Michelle Rautenbach grew up next to racetracks, so it came as no surprise that she would pick a career in the auto industry.

22 Toy Kempton Michelle1 43

Her love of cars started with watching her father and hero, the legendary Springbok racing driver Johan Coetzee. Johan is one of the few motorsport legends who achieved national colours in two forms of motorsport, short- and long-track racing.

After leaving school, Michelle studied marketing and got her first job at Toyota South Africa Motors in 1994. Here she excelled in various positions, before becoming the National Pricing Manager.

She would later join Toyota’s regional office, serve as the New Vehicles Sales Manager at Pretoria Noord Toyota and Regional Sales Manager at Imperial (today Motus) Toyota before taking up the role as Dealer Principal at multi-franchise dealerships in the group (Kia, Hyundai and Renault). She then returned to Toyota as DP at Parktown Toyota and, for the last three and a half years, as DP at Motus Toyota Kempton Park – the town where she was also born and grew up.

Motus Toyota in Kempton Park - the top Toyota dealer in the Motus Group,

The Kempton Park dealership was recently awarded Dealer of the Year in the Motus Group’s eight Toyota dealerships. And if you thought it is easier to become Toyota DOTY at Motus than at Toyota itself, you would be mistaken. Every metric, including new and used vehicle sales, customer experience and profitability, is carefully tabulated and evaluated by a group of judges, before a final winner is announced.

“I think everyone in the trade will understand that the last two years have not been easy, even more so for Toyota dealerships after the flood four months ago that brought our manufacturing plant in Durban to its knees.

“Well, today we have risen from our knees with the first locally manufactured vehicles leaving the plant after it reopened. This is a remarkable achievement after the disaster, and it stays true to our new motto of Rebuilding Better Together.

A vehicle being prepped for a customer delivery.

“I must say, an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) like Toyota is hard to beat. The way we were involved and kept up to date with the progress was something to behold. I believe that it is this commitment and loyalty from Toyota to us and all its clients that have kept it at the number one position despite the lack of stock,” Michelle tells Dealerfloor.

“Within Motus, the Toyota team is also a great supporter. Under the leadership of Yunus Ismail (Franchise Managing Director at Motus Toyota) we are a close-knit community and have the best leadership I have ever encountered,” she says.

Michelle says although the prestigious award has been won by the dealership in the past, it has been a number of years since Toyota Kempton Park has taken home the silverware. That said, the dealership is no stranger to winning awards.

The Motus Toyota Kempton Park dealership is considered a large dealer in the Toyota network, with a large throughput of new and used vehicles and services.

In recent years, Michelle was selected as the 2020 MFC Motoring Woman of the Year for Outstanding Commitment in Loyalty and Faithfulness to Motoring South Africa. She also won the 2013 Dealer Principal Category at the AMH Multi Franchise Awards to name but two of her and her dealership’s awards.

The dealership was also a 2019 finalist for the Most Improved Performance in a Group in the Sewells-MSXI NADA Business of the Year Awards and at the recent Toyota Dealer of the Year Awards where it walked away with the accolade as the best New Vehicle Department in the Large Dealer Category. The Kempton Park Automark floor was voted the runner-up in its category.

“We celebrated our latest award in the Motus Group with all our staff at the dealership. We included the contract workers like our cleaners and security guards because they contribute equally to our success and giving them this recognition was highly appreciated by everyone.

“I believe in an open-door policy and I am a firm believer in the philosophy of never giving up, no matter the obstacles in your way. Especially now during Women’s Month, I want to encourage women to pursue their dreams and give serious consideration to the motor trade as a career.

The winning Motus Toyota DP - Michelle Rautenbach.

“It is hard work but extremely rewarding. I think women can bring a softer and more gentle touch to the industry, which was previously seen as a ’man’s world’. The acceptance of women in the motor trade and in the motor retail side where I found myself, is not an issue anymore. I have had great mentors and support throughout my career.

“The opportunities are there even on the technical side. At one of the previous Toyota dealerships, where I found myself, we had the great opportunity to see a woman qualifying as a Master Technician,” the first ever in South Africa, Michelle tells us.

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