With close to pre-lockdown sales around the corner, business at one of Bloemfontein’s biggest car dealers is starting to look up. Dealerfloor spoke to Dealer Principal, Peter Scott, at Hyundai Bloemfontein about getting business back on track so to speak.
Briefly tell us about Hyundai Bloemfontein. I believe it is one of the largest and a top award-winning dealership for new vehicles in the city.
In 2000, we were taken over by the Imperial Holdings Group, and we are currently owned by Motus. I would say we are under the top four passenger vehicle selling dealers for new vehicles in Bloemfontein.
Our workshop won Workshop of the Year in 2019 and is managed by George Oosthuizen, and we won Parts Panel Wholesaler in 2019, which is managed by Hendrik van den Berg, in our respective categories.
With several colleagues and I having worked together for years now, we have a combined experience in all the different departments totaling almost 70 years in the motor industry.
It seems that business in the motor industry is picking up speed almost everywhere now with only one lockdown level left. What is your experience so far?
We are currently standing at 90% of our pre-lockdown target, so for me to complain would be ungrateful. Look, it is not easy under current circumstances, but as our CEO always says, “People will always buy cars.”
I think the big factor he was referring to is customer service and the experience. People buy from people. What worked in the previous month is not necessarily going to work next month. We constantly need to change how we do business and adapt to the current situations and changing conditions. If you do not change or adapt, you will most certainly be left behind.
How is business on the used car side and can a dealership survive without selling used cars?
Currently used vehicle sales are under pressure, partly because of stock shortages and also because the low interest rates make new cars very enticing. Different brands have different profit margins on new vehicles,; in our case, we need our used vehicles.
What Hyundai models are the most popular at your dealership?
The Tucson, Creta, Venue, Grand i10, i20 and H100 Bakkie are getting a lot of attention.
It looks as if the days of the sedan are numbered and that SUVs are now what everybody wants.
Most definitely, but we also see a trend as families are getting smaller with kids leaving home and retirement coming closer, so people are trading in their SUVs for smaller vehicles.
What kind of SUVs is the preferred choice and are they mostly petrol or diesel?
The Tucson, Creta and Venue are extremely popular, and anecdotally about 98% of buyers would buy a petrol model.
You have talked about the dealership and the brand, but tell us more about yourself.
I started in the motor industry as a Vehicle Apprentice Technician in 1998. In 2000, I started with Hyundai as a Parts Sales Executive and was promoted to Parts Manager in 2002. In 2013, I became Dealer Principal.
I had to work myself up through the ranks, so it wasn’t easy, but you know the saying, “What comes easy doesn’t last.” Yes, and I can thank the company and management, who realised I had potential and for promoting employees who are already part of the business.
What is your management style?
Make every day count. What you have put in yesterday will be tomorrow’s result and of course you need to have passion for what you do and for looking after your customers and employees. Also, never forget to have fun while doing it!
Despite the severe drought in large parts of the Karoo, the motor business in Graaff-Reinet is stepping up with more brands being represented in this part of the world.
If a pandemic and stock issues aren’t enough of a challenge, why not add a building project/dealership revamp/moving of facilities and getting a second dealership to full independent dealership status to a DP’s list of tasks.
Scott Auto Mazda in Bethlehem has a proud history that stretches back nearly 50 years, which makes them one of the best-known Mazda dealers in the Free State.