Doing the job and doing it proper, is the secret to success in our trade. Your reputation precedes you and word by mouth can be fateful or a huge blessing.
So says Shaun Lean, co-partner in RiSha Auto, a well-known pre-owned vehicle dealership in Welkom in the Free State, which has just moved to a newer, bigger and better located premises in the circle city.
Shaun and his business partner, Riaan Eksteen, are no newcomers to the used vehicle trade.
Riaan had stints as Sales Manager of used cars at OEMs like the then Westvaal Delta in Welkom, Nissan in Bethlehem and at a used car dealership in Welkom itself.
Shaun has a banking background after having been the Sales and Financing Manager at Nedbank in Welkom for a couple of years and at a used car dealership in town.
About six years ago, the two friends decided to do their own thing, and RiSha Auto (Ri for Riaan and Sha for Shaun) was born. “We started with eight cars and have around 35 cars on the showroom floor today, which we hope to expand at the new premises in the near future,” he says.
Asked about the move to the new place of business during these economically challenging times, Shaun says it was necessary to find a new place better equipped for their needs. “The new premises, which housed John Williams Motors, the Mercedes-Benz Dealer in Welkom some years ago, suit their needs perfectly. At this stage, we are renting the property with the option to buy.
“A move is a costly exercise and especially branding is a big expense. There are also costs to furnish and prepare the place to our needs and requirements with aspects like security systems to protect your investment.
“Another important factor is getting the message across to our clients about the move and that we are now located in another part of town. You cannot just leave your clients and hope they will find you. Most of our business is repeat business and referrals at RiSha Auto.
“Our Facebook page is popular and is used with great success in this regard as well as for what we have to offer. For the rest, we use print and radio ads to get the message across,” Shaun tells Dealerfloor.
He says the pandemic did have a negative impact on business with fewer cars sold during the last financial year. Another obstacle to overcome is getting good, clean used-car stock because used cars are scarce since the big drop in new-car sales, which feed the used-car market.
“You pay a premium for good quality used vehicles, which affects profit margins. We buy at reputable auction houses, mainly in Johannesburg, and locally from certain new-car dealers, and the choice is limited for the reasons already mentioned, even in the price bracket between R40 000 and R300 000 in which we operate.”
Shaun says it is important for used-car dealerships to belong to all the professional bodies related to the motor trade, to know the regulatory requirements in all respects, understanding the ethics and making sure your staff members are all well trained.
They also boast with a veteran of the motor industry in the person of a Sales Executive, Julius Marx, who, at the age of 79, is still involved at the dealership on the sales side.
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.