Establishing a used car dealership in the middle of the Free State at a young age only a few years after emigrating to South Africa from Poland is no easy task.
But this was exactly what Robert Wasyliszyn did and today he holds the reins at two well-established used vehicle dealerships in Welkom, namely, Autoplatz and Easy Cars.
But how did he end up in Welkom? “My brother Zbigniew emigrated ten years before me and began working on the goldmines in Welkom. I arrived in the country when I was 20 years old and started my first business venture at age 24 during 1996.
“Autoplatz has been going for 20 years now, and in 2016 we bought Easy Cars, which has been around since 2000. My brother later joined me but sadly passed away a couple of months ago,” Robert tells Dealerfloor.
“Times are difficult and since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, business has taken a plunge. However, with hard work and dedication to our customers, there is progress. I believe we could achieve pre-COVID levels of business by the middle of next year. Since the pandemic, we have been most fortunate and blessed. The business is still going strong, and we did not have to retrench any of our 30 employees.
“Our customer profile has not changed much, there are just fewer people able to buy cars. We still have buyers on the entry level side, the middle segment and for the more expensive or exclusive kinds of vehicles.
“The low interest rate surely helps a lot. A challenge remains the availability of stock and the high prices. Competition for clean stock at competitive prices is fierce,” he says.
Robert says at the Autoplatz dealership the focus is on cheaper models and some commercial equipment like trailers. “We do sell so-called ‘cheapies’ from as little as R20 000 and yes, for that price a customer knows what he or she is getting. For many people, it is all they can afford, and we do our utmost best to keep them mobile.
“At Easy Cars, we sell more middle class and upmarket vehicles. Our stock depends on the demand with bakkies, SUVs and Toyotas that always find happy customers. Our customer base is predominantly people from the Goldfields (Welkom, Virginia and Odendaalsrus) and the broader region.
“We have our own workshop, so many customers also prefer to have their vehicles serviced by us in the long run. To do business for more than 20 years means we have a close relationship with our customers. Creating repeat business only happens when you focus on customer service, and we do try to walk the extra mile.
“It is repeat business, happy customers and a good name that keep us alive during this challenging times in the motor retail business,” Robert concludes.
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) kept the wheels rolling this year with the opening of five new dealerships in four provinces.
The latest addition to the Stellantis dealer network is a large, new Super Group multi-franchise facility in Jacaranda Street, Hennopspark, Centurion, for Jeep, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Citroën.
We can overcome all the hurdles placed in front of us if we recognise our biggest asset in business is our people, says Rob Downs the Dealer Principal at CMH Nissan and Mitsubishi Pinetown.