Car manufacturers promote the continued scheduled servicing of cars by the franchised dealership and use words such as “original equipment”, but how important is this?
“I tell all my sales executives to promote this when they sell a vehicle – new or used,” says Paul Louw, Dealer Principal at Volkswagen Tableview, part of the Claremont Group.
Dealerfloor investigated this and spoke to Gauteng businessman André Verster who brought his 2004 VW Jetta TDI for yet another service – a 350 000 km oil change and general check-up.
“I bought the car from Hatfield Volkswagen in Northcliff more than 16 years ago and took it back to the dealer for each and every single scheduled service – even long after space ran out in die service booklet,” explains André.
This time the service was done at Volkswagen Tableview in Cape Town, which quoted for an oil service and general inspection. In the end it was also necessary to do a brake fluid service and replace a bulb.
“The need to have a car serviced at regular intervals cannot be overstated,” says Service Manager Trevor Hodges, emphasising the importance of a customer-centred approach.
“People need to have their cars serviced, but as a dealership we need to be there for them. Although they need us, we need them,” he says, adding that with so many people now working from home, they see less and less “walk-in” customers. “And I don’t think it is going to change much any time soon.”
As far as genuine parts are concerned, not many people know better than Trevor, who races a 23-year-old VW Golf III GTI in the Western Province Regional Rally Championship.
“I built the car myself from a brand new rally car I bought from Volkswagen Motorsport all those years ago, and although I do all the maintenance myself, I use original VW parts for the bits that are not specially designed for high-performance rallying. That’s one of the reasons my car is till competitive and reliable to this day.”
The 2004 Jetta 1.9 TDI that was serviced, proved to be in great condition. “We only needed to change the oil, a blown bulb and take care of the brake fluid. Everything else was great. An old car such as this offers some unique maintenance issues as time goes on, like the tie rod-end rubber bushes that are damaged purely from age and might need to be replaced at some time. We found only one in need of repair, but the owner opted not to have it replaced at this stage.”
Mitsubishi Motors South Africa (MMSA) kept the wheels rolling this year with the opening of five new dealerships in four provinces.
The latest addition to the Stellantis dealer network is a large, new Super Group multi-franchise facility in Jacaranda Street, Hennopspark, Centurion, for Jeep, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot and Citroën.
We can overcome all the hurdles placed in front of us if we recognise our biggest asset in business is our people, says Rob Downs the Dealer Principal at CMH Nissan and Mitsubishi Pinetown.