Winning women make their voices heard

Dealerfloor recently reported on the VW Grand Prix Awards. We asked two of the winners a few questions on their achievement in what was once considered a “man’s world”.

NTT Vroue

Dealerfloor recently reported on the VW Grand Prix Awards. We asked two of the winners a few questions on their achievement in what was once considered a “man’s world”.

NTT Volkswagen Kimberley scooped up the overall Dealer of the Year Award for Category B Dealers, under the leadership of Jaco van Heerden as the top Sales Executive and two ladies, Tania van Dyk (Sales Manager of the Year) and Colette Ridgard (Service Manager of the Year).

Tania van Dyk and Colette Rigard, the winning women at NTT VW Kimberley
  • · Dealerfloor: There are a growing number of women in different positions in the motor industry and specifically in vehicle retail today. Do you still experience resistance from the opposite gender and how do you handle it?

Tania: I started my career in the banking industry, which was also male dominated at the time. I am used to this environment and do not experience any negativity from my male peers regarding my ability to perform in my position.

Colette: My work is my pride. If there are any problems related to my gender, from either a colleague of a client, it must be sorted out immediately.

  • · Dealerfloor: In the past it was said the car industry is a man’s world. That has changed but will you recommend it to the young generation as a career opportunity?

Tania: Things changed a lot over the years and fortunately humans are good at adapting to their environment. The motor industry is tough (like many other industries), but it is very satisfying. It all depends on your mindset and your desire to succeed. I believe you can do anything you want (irrespective of your age, race or sex). You must just believe in yourself and create your own destiny.

Colette: I will most definitely encourage young women to start a career in the motor industry. In any position you must give 100%, know every aspect of your job in order to be the best at what you do.

Tania van Dyk (Manager New Vehicles).
  • · Dealerfloor: A last question about this issue – do women have to work harder to prove themselves or is the playing-field level?

Tania: I think people’s perspective has changed a lot over the years and they do not have preconceived perceptions in their thinking. I feel I get recognised just as much as my male colleagues (I also love being the “underdog” – it is always a good feeling to pleasantly surprise people!).

Colette: I think women are more detail-orientated and what you might lack on the technical side, you more than make up for that on the administrative side of your job.

  • · Dealerfloor: Tell us more about your backgrounds and the road that led you to where you are today.

Tania: I studied Social Science at the University of Stellenbosch and started my career in the banking industry. I was part of WesBank for 7 years after which I entered the motor industry. I have been with NTT Volkswagen Kimberley for almost 8 years now.

Colette: My career kicked off in 2002 at Meerland Motors / Gariep Motors as Service Adviser and later as the Warranty and Maintenance Administrator. In 2006, I joined MAN Truck & Bus as Workshop Administrator and in 2012 I started at Southey Motors (VW & Audi) as Warranty Administrator and in 2016 as Service Manager. In 2019, NTT acquired the dealership and in that same year our department was the Department of the Year in the dealership.

Colette Rigard (Workshop Manager).
  • · Dealerfloor: What are your job descriptions and what does your daily task entail?

Tania: I am the New Vehicle Manager, and my duties are to assist the Sales Executives to reach their monthly targets. My job is to find vehicles, to assist in closing the deals and motivate them daily.

Colette: I am the Service Manager for VW & Audi and take responsibility for customer service, the planning in the workshop and all the administrative processes around the running of the workshop.

  • · Dealerfloor: Tell us more about the competition, the criteria and how competitive it is?

Tania: The criteria for New Vehicle Sales Manager of the Year are for sales to target, customer satisfaction as well as SUV sales to target. The highest achiever in these categories wins the Sales Manager of the Year Award. There are two winners in the Category B of whom I was one.

Colette: We achieved our goals related to reaching the target of Own Workshop Parts Sales and the target of the sale of the Easy Drive Vehicle Plans. This was a team effort with each and everyone of the staff giving 100%.

  • · Dealerfloor: What is the value of industry awards and what does it mean to you?

Tania: This award is important to me as it recognised my team’s hard work and dedication. It is a big thank you to them for all their efforts.

Colette: It motivates you to try harder to do even better the next time. To receive recognition from VWSA is a great honour.

  • · Dealerfloor: What are the challenges today considering the pandemic and the resulting stock shortages and how do you handle these challenges?

Tania: We had good couple of months post lockdown, but we are only now experiencing the full impact of the pandemic with parts and vehicle stock shortages. It forced us into thinking of doing business in different ways and every day I am more impressed with the ideas my team comes up with to do things differently.

Colette: Customers must feel save to visit the dealership and in this regard we follow strict protocols regarding COVID-19 in terms of people and vehicles. We also try to ensure we have all the necessary parts for service and repairs to avoid a situation where a customer needs to come back for parts to be ordered.

  • · Dealerfloor: What are challenges you face?

Tania: Currently the biggest challenge for me is to keep my team motivated in the current circumstances. It is also challenging for me to be and stay motivated, but thankfully, our team members support one another, and we try to keep our thoughts and our actions positive.

Colette: We must ensure our workshop is fully booked every day and the new legislation of the Right to Repair is an important issue for all OEMs. We must ensure brand loyalty by providing excellence service to all our customers.

  • · Dealerfloor: What do you enjoy most of your jobs?

Tania: I love the interaction with people (either customers or staff). I also love the challenge that each day brings. No two days are the same, so you do not know how your day is going to be when you get to work.

Colette: Every day is different and never a dull momentum, be it with staff of customers.

  • · Dealerfloor: What is your VW dream car?

Tania: Definitely the Volkswagen Touareg or the Volkswagen V6 Amarok (although any Volkswagen is a dream car!).

Colette: I must agree, a Touareg or a V6 Amarok!

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