Ready for new challenge at East Rand dealerships

It may only be two months in the hot seat at FCA East Rand and Chery Boksburg but Kulani is ready for the challenge.

22 FCA East Rand Kulani1

Kulani Makaringe is the new DP at the large Stellantis and Chery multi-franchise in Boksburg, one of the flagship dealers for both Stellantis and the listed Super Group Pty Ltd (trading as Supergroup Dealerships). While new in this job, he brings with him close to a decade of experience as Dealer Principal at various big motoring groups in the country.

The FCA and Chery dealerships.

This dealership retails Fiat, Fiat Professional, Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Abarth nameplates as well as the recently established Chery dealership, housed on the same premises in the East Rand Mall in the busy part of Boksburg.

“The difference between all the motoring groups is noted, but in the end, the name of the game is the same – move metal, build and establish long lasting relationships with clients from all walks of life and maintain dealer viability,” Kulani tells Dealerfloor.

Kulani started his motoring career 15 years ago at the bottom rung of the sales floor as a cadet with the then AMH Group. He worked his way up through the ranks and later became DP at different dealerships before his latest appointment at Supergroup on the Stellantis brands.

Kulani Makaringe, the new Dealer Principal at FCA and Chery in Boksburg on the East Rand.

“On the Chery side of our business, stock supply has been increasing month on month, which has helped us notch up consistent sales growth every month since the opening of the dealership in November 2021. This month, we are aiming for record sales. The Chery brand has really built good traction and has won the hearts of South Africans since its reintroduction in the country.

“The motoring global supply chain has been put under immense pressure where stock of motor vehicles is concerned. However, our business partners at Stellantis have been working tirelessly to address the challenges and thus we can see an upward trajectory on our outlook.

The rich heritage of the Jeep brand on display at the dealership.

“The Jeep brand is extremely popular. We have sold out on our newly launched Jeep Gladiator double cab bakkies. We have a waiting list for this vehicle, which is immensely popular with Jeep enthusiasts as well as people who have an active outdoor lifestyle.

“The Fiat vehicle range has received some model enhancements, which will bring a refreshed outlook and excitement to our sales floors. The Alfa Romeo and Abarth brands might not do the big volumes in sales, but they cater for a niche and special segment of the market, an acquired taste for the connoisseur car buyer,” Kulani says.

Kulani reckons, like most dealerships, they do sell vehicles to clients across the country, but their main focus is on Boksburg and the neighbouring towns of Benoni, Springs and Brakpan. “The majority of our business is in our area as it is important to get customers back here for repeat business and for our after-sales department to take care of those vehicles throughout their life cycle.

“We are also busy with a campaign to get owners of older, out-of-warranty vehicles to come back to us for servicing and other after-sales needs. This campaign is still new but it’s already starting to bear fruit in this regard. Getting people here is also important to showcase our new additions to our different model ranges.”

A part of the pre-owned section at the dealership.

He says another import aspect in their business model is to get customers to trade in their vehicles with them when looking for a new set of wheels. “We are building a reputation for fair trade-ins and in some instances might even pay above market value for a good used vehicle to clinch a deal and retain the customer. Our interaction and treatment of customers are our number one priority whether it is buying a new vehicle, selling a used car, trade-ins and satisfaction from our workshop,” he tells Dealerfloor.

Another issue close to Kulani’s heart is the expansion of opportunities to a new generation of employees for the motor retail sector. “We have lost so many good, experienced people, but this creates an opportunity to bring in fresh talent that can create a new magic. We must now conduct business differently in the new environment, especially since March 2020 when COVID hit our shores. Business needs to be taken to the next level,” Kulani says.

And what does he do when he’s not selling vehicles? “As a husband and father my spare time is pretty much occupied by the children’s school and sporting events, but when time permits, I love to play a bit of golf,” Kulani concludes.

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