Supreme Auto adds Suzuki to its portfolio in Mahikeng

Selling new vehicles in a rural environment these days goes hand in hand with a number of challenges. Serious challenges that see dealerships close their doors for business. But when you are an established family business with a solid reputation its game on, as they say.

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Dealerfloor spoke to Lucian de Paiva, a director of Supreme Auto in Mahikeng in the far North West, which has just added Suzuki to its multi-franchise in the provincial capital.

“Suzuki is the fourth brand we have added, and if you look at the product, back-up and prices, it was a no-brainer when the opportunity presented itself. It is the brand’s first appearance in this part of the world, and it joins Supreme Auto’s Ford, Mazda and Chery dealerships in the industrial area of the town,” he tells us.

“Suzuki Mahikeng and Supreme Mazda, although separate, share a premises, while a short distance away we have Supreme Ford and Chery Mahikeng at our other premises,” says Lucian, the third generation involved in the business.

Zane, Annelene and Lucian de Paiva at the new Suzuki dealership.

“My wife, Annelene’s grandfather, Victor Stanton started the business way back in 1957 with a couple of different brands. He passed the baton on to his son, Vincent, and he passed it on to us, and my son, Zane, is also involved as the Dealer Principal (DP) of Suzuki and Mazda. At Chery, we have a Sales Manager, Gos Masibi, and as DP I look after Ford and the overall business. My wife is involved in the financial management of the dealerships.”

Lucian says, his brother-in-law also operates under the banner of Supreme Auto with his own dealerships in Vryburg and Sweizer-Reneke, also in North West province.

About business conditions in Mahikeng, Lucian says most of the customers are civil servants, and North West University has a large campus in the town. “People feel the pinch owing to the struggling economy, and the political uncertainty regarding the general election also plays a part. The failing infrastructure led to us drilling boreholes, and we are expanding our solar structures to obviate all the challenges in this regard.

“With the sale of new vehicles in a downwards spiral across the country, it is now more important than ever to have the right product mix for customers, especially in a rural environment with a limited customer base. Suzuki and Chery hit the target, and since opening our doors this month, we have already sold nine Suzukis.

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“Chery also brings more affordability to prospective buyers with good value in the crossover and SUV segments. Mazda’s prices make it a challenge in our region, and Ford’s Ranger remains popular. We also have high aspirations for the new Territory, which renews Ford’s relationship with the passenger car side of the business,” Lucian tells Dealerfloor.

“What can make or break a rural dealership, as I mentioned earlier, is getting a bad reputation through rendering a poor service to customers. Poor service spreads quickly by word of mouth in a small community and once you lose customers, it is very difficult to win them back.

“That is why we not only survived, but thrived in Mahikeng. Customer service and personal involvement from the owners and our employees are crucial in rendering a top class service, which our customers expect from us. We try to be hands-on in all aspects of the dealership business.

“I always say, the heartbeat of our business is not the selling of cars, but customer care. Get that right and sales will follow, even in a difficult environment or in challenging times,” Lucian says.

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  • 23 July 2024