No time to slow down in Vereeniging

There is a buzz at the Hallmark multi-franchise dealership in Vereeniging, where business is picking up in step with the general recovery of the automotive industry.

Suzuki Pio Ver1

Here Suzuki, Honda, Mitsubishi, GWM/Haval as well as Suzuki and Honda motorcycles are all under the umbrella of the Hallmark Motor Group. Business is spread over two premises located right across from each other, and used vehicles are retailed from a separate used vehicle floor on the other side of the Vaal River in Sasolburg.

Dealerfloor spoke to Pio Fogolin, Dealer Principal at the Hallmark Motor Group’s multi-franchise dealership, about current trade conditions in his neck of the woods.

Pio Fogolin – cars and bikes are this DP’s passion.

Pio, who is originally from Vereeniging, and DP for the last seven years, started his retail career in Midrand as a motorcycle salesperson for Honda before moving back to the Vaal Triangle with stints at the then Imperial Nissan and later BMW, both in Vereeniging.

“My passion for motorcycles fits in nicely with my day job. Our dealership is privileged to have sold the most Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycles recently when the 2022 model arrived in South-Africa. We always run a big marketing campaign around the flagship bike from Suzuki because it is such an iconic motorcycle, and that has helped to put our dealership on the map, so to speak.

“Motorcycles are mostly bought by enthusiasts as a hobby rather than an alternative form of daily transport. We started with breakfast and fun runs, which not only benefit our business but created a nice vibe and atmosphere for bikers in our region,” Pio says.

But as with cars, stock shortages are also affecting the business, so dealers have to make do with what they can get. “We are fortunate that even before the arrival of the pandemic, we ran a lean and effective business. That meant we did not have to lay people off.

“Stock shortages across the board mean that profit margins need to be protected and yes, even with stock shortages, you can still make money. The used side the business is on its head with exorbitant prices being asked and paid for pre-owned cars. This is a situation and aspect of the business that need careful management.

Suzuki Pio Ver2
Suzuki Pio Ver3
Suzuki Pio Ver4
Suzuki Pio Ver5
Suzuki Pio Ver2
Suzuki Pio Ver3
Suzuki Pio Ver4
Suzuki Pio Ver5

“I believe by the middle of the year, we could see stock becoming more readily available. When this happens, we must not be caught off-guard because of the high pricing tendencies currently dominating the used car market,” he tells Dealerfloor.

Asked about the different brands they sold, Pio says especially Suzuki and Haval are doing good volumes with popular and well-specced models at competitive pricing. On the Honda side, the emphasis is more on traditional Honda buyers with a brand loyalty, while Mitsubishi is also doing well with more models being added to the range.

“With Suzuki, the Jimny 4x4 and the Swift are immensely popular, and at the entry level, the S- presso. With GWM/Haval, the GWM P-series bakkie is doing well and on the Haval side the Jolion and bigger H6 are getting a lot of attention. With Mitsubishi, we are excited about the single cab work horses on the Triton side, which will be here soon, and the Pajero Sport stays a firm favourite in its segment,” he says.

Pio is a firm believer in personal contact. This means having a cup of coffee with prospective customers and taking them for test drives.

“I know the pandemic forced us more into digital campaigns, which are of course particularly important. But my sales team also places great emphasis on receiving clients and assisting them in person with whatever their needs are.”

“Our location in Duncanville, Vereeniging, close to the highway off-ramp in Beethoven Street, ensures a lot of foot traffic, which is good for business. Most of our business is done in our region but especially our used vehicles are delivered across the country,” Pio concludes.

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