Smaller towns suffer more hardship because of the depopulation and migration of people to bigger towns and cities looking for better job opportunities. As with banks and other bigger industries, motor dealers also battle to sustain a viable existence in these towns as the critical mass of running a successful business is shrinking.
One town that seems to escape this fate, is Bothaville in the Free State. Bothaville is fortunate to find itself within the so-called maize triangle where some of the world’s best and most maize per hectare is produced.
The town also plays a vital role in the production of fertilizer and the sale of farming implements and services that are evident at the yearly held Nampo Harvest Day show on the outskirts Bothaville.
A few dealerships still flourish here because of the wide and intense farming in the heartland of maize production.
One of them is Westvaal Bothaville, the Isuzu dealership in town. The dealership services a mainly farming community, who have few other options, with bakkies and SUVs, so there is little doubt about its importance in the area.
Westvaal Bothaville recently appointed a new Dealer Principal, and Dealersfloor had a quick chat to Daniel Taljaard or Daantjie as he is known colloquially.
“I have swopped Blue Bull country for the Cheetah plains and look forward to the challenges and opportunities here. I started my career with Toyota many years ago, spent five years at NTT Mokopane before joining the ranks of the BB Group for six years. After that I moved to the Limpopo Motor Group with a new Renault Dealership, spending two years in Lephalale in management positions,” he says.
“Now Westvaal has given me the opportunity to put my abilities to good work so that I can reach my goals with a mission I am passionate about. I am an ambitious, creative and a highly motivated individual who has a passion for the retail industry and an uncompromising commitment to quality and outstanding customer service.”
He says the workshop and spares department only recently re-opened with a new full-time technician and service adviser to assist with anything from servicing to selling parts for Isuzus. “We are proud to once again assist on all levels at the dealership, not only selling vehicles but providing the backup locally.”
He is also looking forward to attend Nampo for the first time in his life (probably only next year) and says an event of that magnitude can only augur well for the town’s economy which, in return, will also benefit vehicle dealers.
About doing business in the more rural towns, Daantjie says it is one thing doing online vehicle shopping and becoming just a number in the bigger places. “Here services are much more personal, with a handshake (under normal circumstances) and people become like friends or family.”
With a brand-new Isuzu on its way and fierce competition, how is the bakkie doing in the Free State?
“The Free State is Isuzu country. We deliver bakkies all over to customers and the famous 250 diesel single cab is still a very popular workhorse of choice.”
“Isuzus also have a very long life cycle, and for many, a new bakkie only happens once a decade.” He says used bakkies are always in demand because for a lot of people it is workhorse that helps to put food on the table,” he concludes.
True empowerment must be visible and sustainable. The transfer of expertise and knowledge is crucial to make it a success, and last but not the least, all parties must invest in the venture.
Namaqualand is an unforgiving region, and during the current prolonged drought, farmers can suffer. It can also be a paradise in the flower season bringing much needed tourists to this remote part of the country.
Kia South Africa rewarded its top-performing dealerships across the country with numerous prizes for outstanding achievements in sales, after sales and service operations.