COVID-19 made us realise just how much more effective a business can be run by looking at expenses and cutting unnecessary costs to the bone.
So, says Dawie Lubbe, Dealer Principal at Oranje Toyota Klerksdorp, about doing business during lockdown and the current state of business in the North West town.
“Cutting costs and wasteful expenditure were necessary for most businesses to make it through this last year and half of the pandemic. It does not mean cutting back on your community involvement to which we are still very much committed with various projects, especially at school level. Our involvement is not marketing campaigns, but a true commitment to the community we live and work in.
“Sales are picking up notwithstanding stock shortages. Shortages of certain models will always be a reality as production capacity and market demands are variables. Yes, we are looking for more models like workhorse diesel-bakkies, but we wil sell anything we can get.
“It reminds me of something Brynn Stephenson, my mentor and previously a Managing Director at Unitrans Auto, once said: ‘I will rather look for stock than for customers’. If we have vehicles, we have something to sell, something to offer the customer,” says Dawie.
“In Klerksdorp and the surrounding areas, we have a large customer base in the agriculture sector and with good rainfall business in this regard is on the upbeat, including the game-farming industry. In Klerksdorp itself, we have large fleet customers, like Senwes, with which we have an excellent relationship,” he tells Dealerfloor.
Dawie says they are thankful that all four pillars of the business, new cars sales, used car sales, parts and the workshop are busy recovering and are beginning to fire on all cylinders, notwithstanding the psychological effect the pandemic has on people across the board.
“I am worried about the psyche of people. We must look after each other in this regard. We were more social and in terms of our business would all get together regularly, which we must now avoid. People all over are scared and nervous and it is important to create a safe environment and look out for family, friends and colleagues.”
Talking about environment, Dawie tells Dealerfloor the new 6 600 m2 dealership was completed in 2016 and gets all its water from its own borehole with solar panels providing roughly a third of the dealership’s electricity requirements. “Furthermore, we are recycling plastic and other materials and planted a number of trees at our new premises,” he says.
Dawie, who has been Dealer Principal here since April 2008, says they are rated as a medium-sized dealership. “Our staff component is the solid foundation of this business with a low personnel turnover.
“My career with the brand kicked off at Toyota South Africa in 1982 where I was involved with the building of the company’s rally cars for about five years. After my rally experience, I become a District Service Manager and later the Warranty Technical Manager at Toyota SA.
In the late 80s, I shifted to a new gear in joining the retail side of the motor industry and later became the Dealer Principal at the Toyota Dealership in Killarney before taking over the reins at Oranje Toyota Klerksdorp.
“I must say I have never looked back and love the retail business, even under these difficult circumstanced we find ourselves in today,” Dawie concluded.
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.