“Being an independent new car retail dealership has its advantages”, says Anru de Wet, the co-owner and Dealer Principal of Klein Karoo Toyota in Oudtshoorn.
“Especially in these days where a decision must made immediately, it helps if there is no red tape or bureaucracy that has to approve everything at dealership level. It is just me and my brother, Louis, who make the decisions and, yes, we have to live with the consequences,” he tells Dealerfloor.
Klein Karoo Toyota belonged to the two De Wet brothers’ father, also named Louis, and his business partners. The brothers bought out the last of business partners a few years ago and are now the sole owners of this well-established and well-known dealership in the heartland of the Little Karoo.
“My dad, who has passed away since, started the business in 1975, and we joined at a later stage in our lives, me on the sales side and my brother, Louis, at the parts and workshop section, which he is still taking care of today. We get on very well and run the business without any hassles or drama.”
On the question about business amid a severe drought in the Little Karoo and on top of that the influence of the pandemic, Anru says there are serious challenges, but they focus on what they can change and work with. “There is no point spending time and effort on something you can’t change. Not all is lost or negative,” he says.
“The drought and the aftermath of it are still severe, notwithstanding some rainfall in recent times. Farmers keep their bakkies longer, but are servicing them less. The agriculture sector received a double blow, first the drought and then the pandemic with the ostrich industry suffering from not being able to export meat and feathers owing to the pandemic. It goes without saying that the important tourism sector in Oudtshoorn is also adversely affected.
“The average middle class buyers were also affected in our region and not only with less money available but also the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, especially when there is a steep rise like now with the third wave, buyers tend to be more circumspect spending money.
“It does not help to be negative. We have a strong Internet marketing campaign and at this stage around 80% of our sales originate outside Oudtshoorn. New and used cars are delivered as far afield as Durban, Bloemfontein and the Northern Cape. We see fewer and fewer feet at the dealership with the complete transaction, including financing, done online.
“Yes, we lose out on the servicing side when you deliver all over the country. We do, however, put in a serious effort to get Toyota owners in the region to have their services done by us. One of our initiatives is to fetch the vehicles for servicing and deliver them afterwards.
“It is all about customer services like never before. If you lose a customer because of bad services, you will not get him of her back,” says Anru.
Talking about the ratio between new and used stock, Anru tells Dealerfloor at this stage, mainly owing to the stock shortages on the new vehicle side, they sell three used vehicles for every new one sold.
“On the more expensive side, used vehicles that are popular and in demand could fetch up to R100 000 more than normally. Good two-year old vehicles with low and even below average miles on the clock are in demand and that’s what we aim for,” Anru says.
Anru tells Dealerfloor they are in the process of upgrading the dealership to the latest Toyota CI spec and it could happen towards the end of the year. This dealership was awarded the Dealer of the Year in 1996 by the manufacturer. We were also an ABSA Golden Partner for a long time, and we are working to regain that status,” he says.
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.
Scott Auto Mazda in Bethlehem has a proud history that stretches back nearly 50 years, which makes them one of the best-known Mazda dealers in the Free State.