Customers before profit. That is a motto André Breytenbach, Dealer Principal at Market Toyota Tokai, strongly believes in.
It is this philosophy that will keep customers in the Toyota fray, amid the problems at Toyota’s plant in Durban where flood waters halted production, André tells Dealerfloor.
André is an experienced Toyota man with five Toyota Vice President Awards for Customer Experience for Large Dealerships under his belt. Before making the trek back to the Western Cape, he was the DP at Toyota Boksburg in Gauteng.
For the past two years André had to lean heavily on his customer service experience to keep his customers loyal to the brand. Stock remains restricted, first because of the aftermath of the pandemic and then due to the cessation of production in Durban.
“Yes, it is a serious challenge, but the motor trade is very resilient, and our OEM, Toyota, and the CFAO Group to which we belong, are the partners you want in a battle like this. It remains difficult to supply our customers with the most popular Hilux, Fortuner, Corolla and Corolla Cross models, but we try everything. This includes getting customers behind the wheel of one of our imported models or even a used Toyota.
“We do this in many cases as a temporary measure with a buy-back transaction structured for when production of the clients’ preferred vehicles resumes. I believe this measure – with good communication, even on a daily basis, if necessary - is the way to retain our customers.
“We also put a lot of effort into selling extended warranties and maintenance plans to existing customers who intend to keep their vehicles longer in anticipation of the normalisation of production in Durban.
“Toyota has an astonishingly loyal following in South Africa, and customers are fully aware of the problems we are experiencing. Our OEM keeps us in the loop all the time, notwithstanding the mammoth task in getting the plant up and running again. We, in turn, pass on the info and communication with the customer,” André says.
“I am back in the Cape after a seven-year stint in Gauteng. Down here, we have to approach the customers differently from how we did in Gauteng as customers in the Western Cape are more demanding, and your footwork has to be nimble and agile to keep everyone happy. It is a challenge that we have met as my management team and I have more than 100 years’ of combined experience in the motor trade. It serves us well during the troubled times in which we must do business.
“The current circumstances also affect the used car market, which we are all familiar with. We are fortunate to draw on the combined availability of used stock in our group and get access to rental cars that are de-fleeted. Buying used cars and trade-ins at a local dealer level is also of the utmost importance to us,” he says.
André’s care for customer service stretches even further than just the motor trade. He started his motoring career shortly after he obtained his B Com Marketing degree in 1994 and worked in different capacities at various vehicle dealerships.
In 2008, he left the motor trade for seven years and ventured into the restaurant and video shop business where customer care is also a crucial part of the business. He returned to the motor retail sector in the Cape and had to leave the Cape behind to become the newly appointed DP at Toyota in Boksburg before returning to the Motor City in his current position as DP at Market Toyota Tokai.
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