South Africa’s new vehicle market made a strong rebound in 2021 from the massive 29.2% COVID-19 pandemic-related decline in 2020, and naamsa expects the industry to continue with its gradual recovery in 2022.
- Industry News
- 11 January 2022
Like many other towns, the growing town of Rustenburg has seen its economy take a hit with the COVID-19 pandemic.
While this may not seem like the best time to start a new business, Hugh Watson did just that. We spoke to Hugh, a well-known businessman in die retail car trade in Rustenburg, about changes and a new venture called Pick-a-Car.
“One needs to be tough, yet humble to ensure your dealership creates an experience distinct from the norm. As big as the world is, that little gadget you hold in your hand all day, gives the buyer more knowledge than your salespeople do.
“We have to create a culture of trust, as people buy from people. It is your trusted reputation that sells vehicles, and when times are tough, you get rewarded with referrals and the community recognises the role by continually giving back in many different forms of charity,” Hugh says.
Hugh reckons that Hyundai Rustenburg was the second dealership to move out of the CBD to the up-market area next to the main shopping mall, just off the N4. The dealership was officially opened and used as a main venue for the 2010 World Cup activities and has become a landmark.
“Recently, the Hyundai franchise was sold to Motus. However, we have kept our landmark premises and renamed our used-vehicle sales operation to Pick-a-Car, and we continue to build on the trust and customer experience, which have stood us in good stead for many years.
“Soon we will be adding another new vehicle brand to our floor, we are extremely excited about this,” Hugh tells Dealerfloor.
“One of our priorities with the Hyundai/Motus deal was to ensure that no staff member lost his or her job and most of them moved with Hyundai. I kept a small handful of key sales and administrative personnel because people make a business.
“The floor space of the Pick-a-Car Dealership is large with over five thousand square metres on two levels. The showroom is on top and the After Sales Operation below. With not having to have an After Sales Operation, the entire After Sales area has been rented out to Q&J Services, owned by Quinton Barnard with whom I worked with before.
“Quinton branched away from the corporate world and opened his own workshop about ten years ago. He has built a highly reputable service operation, servicing many vehicles a day, and he now employs 14 people. Q&J is run independently from us.
“Quinton and I have a similar approach to business, and we complement and push each other to ensure success and at the same time my used vehicles go through stringent checks and repairs before they are placed on the showroom floor.
“In addition, we have a constant flow of potential new customers on the servicing side, viewing our vehicles. Owing to Quinton’s high standards and reputation, the green light has been given for Q&J to set up the entire After Sales Operation for the new brand – all in all it has been a win-win for both of us,” Hugh says.
Hugh has been in the motor trade for 37 years and has been through the good and the bad times.
“I have crossed many hurdles and seen many changes, but I have a mindset of ‘let us look for ways of doing business rather than look for excuses not to’ and in the process building stronger relationships with customers and the banks.
“With Pick-a-Car we will continue specialising in newer model, low milage, passenger cars and SUVs with a few bakkies with manufacturer’s warranties and/or service plans. Finding stock is a huge challenge, but smile and have fun, make the magic happen,” Hugh concludes.
Regardless of the persisting challenges related to COVID-19, business in the North West province seems to be on the upside.
Cas Kolbé is a lawyer by profession. But, like many other who came into contact with the auto industry, he had a completely different dream.
With a string of law degrees behind his name, Jannie Nell never became a law practitioner, but instead ventured into the motor retail business for a career.