Selling new cars in the heart of Namaqualand means hard work, but for Kobus Spangenberg and the team at Springbok Nissan it is part of the appeal of life in this arid border town.
Springbok lies close to the southern border of Namibia, a good 400 kilometres from Upington and 280-odd kilometres from Vredendal. Like many towns in the Northern Cape, businesses have been ravaged by a drawn-out, crippling drought and heavily reduced tourist footfall owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite this, Kobus, the Dealer Principal, is thankful for their business performance in 2020.
“Like many other businesses, sales of new goods are down because of the lockdown. And although we are short of 2019’s numbers, we are blessed by the grace of God as we managed to achieve our goals, largely because of the good performance of the workshop and parts department. Our customers have carried us through this difficult period, and we value and thank them for their support.
“Ten years ago, this area had grasslands and today it is very much like a desert. Serious farming has declined and because of the drought and COVID-19 on top of that, the tourism industry took a serious knock. We are currently sustained by the combined buying power of a number of smaller communities and towns around Springbok,” Kobus tells Dealerfloor.
He says in the past, people travelling through Springbok en route to Namibia or the West Coast brought a lot of business to town, especially for the motor trade, ditto customers from across the border in Namibia. Last year, however, this revenue stream all but dried up with restrictions on travel, especially across the border, and some latent concerns from long-distance customers about travelling amidst curfews and other restrictions.
Doing business, while facing these challenges was hard work: “The answer lies in not simply giving good, but excellent service and through building strong personal relationships with our existing and potential customer base. The two aspects that are of the utmost importance are word of mouth and social media, predominantly Facebook, to get our message across.
“Everyone knows everyone. You must be consistent in your business dealings. People talk to people about how they are treated, and they talk about our products and the quality of the service we provide. The staff at Springbok Nissan are very dedicated and that helps a lot,” says Kobus.
“Our bakkie ranges and SUVs are extremely popular. The NP300, the smaller NP200 and our flagship Navara are consistent favourites in this region. On the SUV side, the Qashqai remains immensely popular, and we are looking forward to the new Navara, the Magnite-crossover and the bigger Terra in the foreseeable future,” he says.
“With the long distances between places in this region and in many instances, routes that are partly tar and partly gravel, bakkies and SUVs are the sensible choices. It is not only because of the roads, but they are also practical vehicles for both families and individuals.”
Kobus says he has been the Dealer Principal for the past four years and was involved in establishing of the Nissan dealership in Springbok in 2013. They are also a service agent for Mahindra products but do not retail them.
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