In the Northern Cape capital, Kimberley, business is showing resilience in the face of the pandemic and the outlook remains positive.
According to PG Welthagen, the new Dealer Principal at Human Auto Ford, the dealership has had a good year behind it, despite the challenges brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19.
PG, who worked in different capacities at the tracking company Netstar for many years, joined the Human Auto Group more than a year ago - the last six months as the new Dealer Principal in Kimberley.
“We are grateful for the positive swing in our business here in Kimberley. The circumstances since the arrival of the pandemic urged us to adapt the way we do business. Repercussions of constant stock shortages urged us to review our expenses and cost control.
“We invested in our used car division with some expansions and management style changes, with positive results, especially during the last couple of months. Used stock is still scarce, but the increase in the demand for new vehicles and the slow but sure recovery, contributed to more trade-ins.
“Furthermore, we also buy at auctions as several people feel the economic pinch of current times. In this regard, we do a lot of private buys of good quality vehicles. The price of obtaining good used stock has skyrocketed because of the availability crisis, which complicates the situation,” PG tells Dealerfloor.
Asked about business conditions in general in Kimberley, PG says the diamond industry is highly active, which has placed renewed focus on the fleet side of the business. “The agricultural sector is doing well around Kimberley, and private businesses and individuals are also contributors to our success.
“Our region has a strong rural character, and people want to meet face-to-face. I am new here, therefore it is important to meet as many customers as possible. The COVID-19 restrictions place a bit of a damper on that, but even with the limitations, we do our best to reach our customers.
“Our Ranger bakkie range is extremely popular in the Northern Cape, from the farming community to the diamond diggers to business and private buyers. Even on the used side, we see a huge demand for bakkies. Our plant in Pretoria will be temporarily closed for development purposes, so we are securing extra stock as far as possible,” he says.
“Our EcoSport is another popular vehicle, and although the diesel variants are very scarce at this moment, the little SUV is still in demand and forms a big part of our business.”
PG says although he is relatively new, he is hugely excited about the future. “The growth potential will soar even more once we can put the pandemic behind us.
“For now, my challenges are time- and resource management. If employees are absent from work owing to COVID, we must adapt our day-to-day strategy. The business runs with fewer hands, but we must still ensure that everything goes according to plan and that customers get the quality of service they deserve. We are a good team with a combination of new blood and many years of experience and that gives me confidence,” PG says.
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