Yugen Naidoo runs a relatively small used-car dealership in Pietermaritzburg, but managed to become an Absa Golden Partner in his first year of sourcing vehicle financing with the bank. Dealerfloor met with him to find out how he managed this achievement.
Naidoo came to car sales via a three-decade career in fashion and fast-moving consumer goods, but he put all the experience he gained in managing and then setting up stores to grow his small used-car lot into a business that today delivers 20 to 25 cars a month nationwide.
He retired from Woolworths as store manager in 2010, having managed several store-opening projects. Before Woolworths, he culminated a career at The Hub by writing the Policy and Procedures book for that business.
His twin set of “miracle boys” were born in 2013 and since then, he has focused on enjoying his family, working with his wife and a small team of loyal staff at Eagle Auto and travelling the locally and abroad every chance he gets. “Travel is the best teacher,” he said.
An autodidact still driven to excel in whatever he does, Naidoo says he applies the lessons from “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” as taught by American author and pastor John C Maxwell in his life and business.
“You make your own vision,” he said.
Asked what played the biggest role in his Absa Golden Partner award, Naidoo said it comes down to a determination to limit his customers’ expenses.
“My approach is to match buyers’ needs with their budgets. We don’t upsell, but sell clients a car that they can rely on and — most importantly — what they can afford,” he said.
This approach led to his small dealership boasts a referral rate of 50%, with only one percent of his clients’ who fall into arrears.
“That’s what impressed Absa most, and they have been phenomenal in giving us a dealer code after only 18 months,” he said.
Naidoo also puts a lot of time into buying a model mix that fits his customers’ profile.
“Your return on investment comes through your asset, you must buy right, and sell fast. Our focus is always on making motoring affordable.”
Having grown up “with not a lot of money” but a father who set an example to excel at whatever he does, Naidoo qualified in short order at the print shop of the then Natal Witness, and with his journeyman paper in hand, started climbing the retail ladder “very fast”.
“I drove a new car every year and along the way, started buying non-runners with the aim to fix and sell them for a small profit.
You make your own vision
“My parents always said I would be in the car trade, for as a boy, I would throw a tantrum to get a die-cast car, only to take the new toy apart with a screwdriver as soon as I got home.
But he soon learned stripping the non-runners for their parts can make a bigger profit, which led to collecting classic cars.
His story of a coming across a rare, mint-condition 1968 Volvo Coupé — lovingly wrapped in blankets by its 92-year-old lady owner — is not one to tell avid car collectors who cry easily. For after showing the Volvo at Cars in the Park, he let himself be talked into selling the almost priceless Volvo for a pittance to a friend, who soon found out Volvo had been looking for that chassis number.
We don’t upsell, but sell clients a car that they can rely on and — most importantly — what they can afford.
“Yes I maybe could have made a lot of money on it, but the happy ending is that coupé went to the Volvo museum in Sweden and our friendship is still strong, and at the end of the day, that matters more,” says Naidoo.
He applies the same philosophy of relationships above profits in matching cars with his clients. “You can almost say we aim to send good cars to good homes.
“As we say on the Eagle Auto Sales website, ‘we soar above the rest to bring you unquestionably dependable used vehicles at affordable prices’.
“That is why we enjoy such a high referral rate and why our competitors congratulate us using the apt phrase, ‘the eagle has landed!’.”
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