Neither my wife, Ella, nor I ever get out of bed on the wrong side, and we never go to work bad tempered. We treat our staff the way we want to be treated.
So, says Izak Mollentze, owner and Dealer Principal at Sydney Hunt Motors, the Isuzu and Suzuki Dealerships in Vryburg in the North West province.
Dealerfloor spoke to Izak about business and life in Vryburg, located in the more remote western part of the province, close to the border of the neighbouring Northern Cape province and not that far from Botswana.
“Vryburg is a wonderful town and good rainfall contributed to the well-being of our agriculture sector, a very important part of our business. We have huge cattle and irrigation farms with crops like maize, potatoes, nuts among others in this region.
“Selling Isuzu bakkies makes this a particularly important market for us, but we also get great support from the community in Vryburg itself and the emerging market from towns around Vryburg. Our Suzuki offers such a variety in the model line-up that appeals to a huge number of buyers,” says Izak.
Asked about the new Right to Repair regulation that makes it possible for owners to service and repair elsewhere even if the vehicle is still under warranty, he says he believes they will overcome any challenges this may pose to OEMs.
“We have a great reputation, our tariffs are incredibly competitive, our reputation is well-establish and I cannot foresee customers turning their backs on us if they are not upset with us. That is something we work on extremely hard to avoid through excellent customer service,” Izak says.
Getting back to the dealerships itself, Izak says they have an extremely low staff turn-over and their work force is loyal and very dedicated.
”I do not micro-manage the business. I sell cars. There are people in charge of the bookkeeping, selling parts, etc. I know what is going on without constantly interfering, but we can go on holiday without a whole lot of organising just because we are not there. The business is run like a well-oiled machine,” he says.
Izak says they try to keep their selling ratio to around 60% locally and 40% across the country via Internet marketing like the norm is today. “The advantage of selling locally is that you see the vehicles back at the dealership for servicing or in case repairs need to be done. It is also good for customer relations and it keeps the owners in the fold of your brands.
“Our area of responsibility is quite large geographically but only a few towns like Kuruman, where we have opened a satellite branch, and Schweizer-Reneke, have sizeable populations. The rest of the area is sparsely populated,” he reckons.
The Sydney Hunt dealership is named after one of the Hunt family members who have owned dealerships, like the Williams Hunt group, which still owns several dealerships, mainly in Gauteng.
Izak says he worked for an insurance broker in Bloemfontein and was transferred to Vryburg where he later bought a scrap yard before buying the dealership in 1984. “I have been through the complete ‘ownership transfer, withdrawing from the country and local ownership and models added and taken away’ of GM/Opel/Chev/Isuzu/Suzuki/Delta in South-Africa over the last couple of decades.
“Decades ago, before Suzuki made a comeback with their motor vehicles, we were selling Suzukis like the famous Suzuki SJ410 which, at that stage, cost R9 000. Today, depending on the condition, the SJ410 is worth up to R50 000,” Izak tells Dealerfloor.
Asked about the future, Izak says he is optimistic, notwithstanding current industry problems regarding stock shortages and the effect of the pandemic. “With two great manufacturers like Isuzu and Suzuki in our business and our great workforce, we are ready for whatever waits down the road.”
Managing a dealership as well as a satellite dealership in another province is not an easy task, but this is exactly what Jose Menezes has been doing since August last year.
Volvo Trucks South Africa has opened a new R130 million dealership facility in Durban to support the growth of the brand’s vehicle parc in the region.
Servicing and maintaining a vehicle are necessary but can often be viewed as a grudge purchase.