No time to sit back, face new challenges head-on

Although we won a top award, now is not the time to sit back. We have to adapt to the ever-changing business conditions lately affecting the retail motor industry.

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So says Gordon Bannister, Dealer Principal at Bidvest McCarthy’s Toyota dealership in Pinetown, KwaZulu-Natal. The dealership received the award as the top Listed Group Dealership at the 2022 MSX | NADA Business of the Year (BOTY) Awards. The dealership also achieved this in 2019.

“We are very proud and honoured to receive this accolade as it shows that we are on the right track. Although we did not know the outcome, we work hard and systematic to achieve our goals. We also won the award as the top dealership within the McCarthy stable for 2022,” he tells Dealerfloor.

The Dealer Principal, Gordon Bannister, at Bidvest McCarthy Pinetown.

Gordon has a track record of over 28 years in the motor industry and has been DP in Pinetown for the last 7 years.

He says that economic circumstances with the increase in the interest rate, load-shedding and various other factors do have a negative effect on business. “We had a good run since COVID, but we have to change our strategy now from just taking orders to finding buyers.

“The motor retail business is forced to go back to more ‘old school ways’ of finding customers. It is more than just a change of mindset, but also a change in the methods used to ‘move metal’ as it is referred to in the industry,” Gordon says.

The award-winning dealership, Bidvest McCarthy Toyota Pinetown.

“My estimation is that the difficult conditions could last for some time, even up to the middle of next year. Although the stock shortages are basically something of the past, it does not mean the industry is bulletproof. “The high interest rates, longer term finance provided by banks and people spending money to alleviate load-shedding result in dealers feeling the economic pinch.

“The high interest rates make people think twice before buying a new car, while the longer periods to pay back a financed vehicle force customers to hang on longer to their set of wheels. To circumvent load-shedding by ‘getting off the grid’ is costly and a preferred option for many potential customers instead of buying a new vehicle,” he says.

“We are privileged to have a quality and highly motivated team at Bidvest McCarthy Toyota in Pinetown. Not only was the team’s effort instrumental in winning the award, but it is the same team that now has to deal with the fast-changing business environment.”

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Gordon says people are by nature uneasy with change, especially when more trying circumstances are at play and have to be dealt with. “We have an extremely low staff turnover that tells a story of commitment and a happy workforce here.

“My job as leader of the team is to navigate them through the change and keep them motivated because that is essential for the new direction we are being forced to take. Nevertheless, it is a challenge, and we strive to keep on the winning path,” Gordon says to Dealerfloor.

He also tells us that although they have an excellent location in Pinetown, the fact that they are in some cases less than 10 kilometres from other dealerships selling the same brand, makes for stiff competition.

“Pinetown is our base, but we also attract customers from a number of surrounding areas. The industrial nature of Pinetown provides a lot of business, especially workhorse bakkies used in a variety of industries. We are glad to see that people are taking to more green energy like a duck to water with the Toyota Corolla Cross Hybrid, which is selling extremely well,” he says.

He concludes that they are excited about what the future holds, and winning awards is the reward for hard work by a great team.

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