“I believe in retailing the dealership into a profit, and over the past, very challenging year, I believe we are on the right track to achieve our goals,” Jaco van den Berg, Dealer Principal at Motus Renault Northcliff, told Dealerfloor recently.
After two years as DP at Renault Centurion, Van den Berg was moved to Northcliff to utilise his skills in multi-franchising, implementing new processes and expanding the business to be a major player in Beyers Naudé Drive. This major traffic artery has more than 20 car dealerships stretching from the N1 Western Bypass down to where it ends in a T-junction with Kingsway Avenue close to the University of Johannesburg, where he completed his BCom.
Van den Berg started his tenure at Renault Northcliff in February 2020 on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to him, it was extremely tough to start his new endeavour in such a way. “I have to be honest that by the time we were back at home for the hard lockdown, I don’t think I even knew all the names of my employees yet,” he told Dealerfloor.
But it quickly changed and over the past year, notwithstanding the implications of the virus, a number of new processes were implemented, including opening the workshop on Saturdays, streamlining the Motus online booking system and focusing on sales in both the new and used vehicle markets. “Walk-ins have become gold,” Van den Berg said while explaining how a walk-in customer has already done the research online and is extremely close to making a final decision. “A walk-in customer is basically looking for the right dealership and salesperson, and we intend to provide just that.”
In the past month, the dealership has already sold 40 used and 20 new cars, with the Renault Duster proving to be a top new-car seller. With customer relations and the workshop running smoothly, they are already seeing the benefit of providing excellent service, thus keeping customers and even upselling to them.
According to Van den Berg there has been a strong move to used cars since the arrival of the pandemic. “I do think that in 12 to 18 months’ time this problem is going to increase with fewer new cars being sold and consequently less available stock in the used market,” he said. “And I believe that, since many people are not driving to work anymore, kilometres on the odometer are kept low with the impulse to buy a new car not stimulated.”
When prompted about the right to repair guidelines effective from 1 July 2021, Van den Berg was adamant that it is a huge opportunity for car manufacturers to ensure proper customer service and the provision of a cost-effective solution are converted into brand loyalty, hence the workshop being open on Saturdays as well.
“In our business, the customer is everything and so many customers can be retained by providing the necessary customer care. That is why the workshop is so important in the bigger scheme of things, as they are already prepping the customer for the next purchase,” Van den Berg said.
It seems that Renault Northcliff is in capable hands with Van den Berg, who started his career in the motor industry in the year South Africa won its first Rugby World Cup (1995), after a brief stint as a sound engineer at M-Net. “We are ready to take on the challenges of this year head-on, and the new Renault Clio and Renault Captur models arriving on our shores during the first half of the year will surely help us to achieve our goals,” he said in parting.
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