The franchise industry is facing a challenging time, unlike anything it has experienced before.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the closure of companies and brands across almost every industry sector - and vehicle dealerships have not been spared. It is in times like these that strong leadership needs to step up to ensure the continued success of the business.
Being part of a strong, established brand, InspectaCar management has supported its franchisees throughout the seven months of lockdown. Derick Smith, a stalwart in the retail motor industry, current dealer council chairman and owner of InspectaCar Wonderboom, provides insights into his InspectaCar franchise journey.
What made you decide to become an InspectaCar Franchise?
In 2004, I became dealer principal at InspectaCar Wonderboom, formerly known as Prima Motors InspectaCar. I appreciated the fact that InspectaCar is an owner-operated model, which, in my opinion, is key to the success evident in all InspectaCar franchises. In Afrikaans they say, “Ver van jou goed, naby aan jou skade” (the master's eye makes the cattle thrive). The fact that I am involved in all aspects of the business with valued guidance, but not interference from the franchisor, is also a major plus factor.
Has your view of the InspectaCar franchise model changed, now that you are one of its franchisees?
In the past, there was very little done by the franchisor to the benefit of the franchisee. In fact, it was only the name more than anything else. We have now evolved into a true franchise.
Dealerships have been revamped and now comply with a new corporate identity. In addition, changes have been made in the naming of dealerships, as in InspectaCar Wonderboom, ensuring a strong brand focus across the country with all dealerships displaying a unified, clear identity.
While there has been a great deal of activity behind the scenes, more important to us is the support we get from a dedicated head office team. We have completed the dealer revamps, including changes to the look and feel, a major website refresh, and finance structures have been put in place. Franchise agreements benefiting both the franchisor and franchisee, together with scorecards, are now also part and parcel of the arrangement.
What value have you derived from being an InspectaCar franchise?
Currently, InspectaCar is the only used car franchise certified by a bank. As such, customers definitely see value in buying a vehicle from us, and this is strengthened through the relationship with WesBank. The values we deliver as a used car dealer with the endorsement of the bank supersede the generic label attached to used car dealers in general. Franchisees have access to professional and ethical business practices and operations via a dedicated head office team, with the support of WesBank.
Do you have any advice for new franchise owners?
My recommendation is to convert your current dealership to become part of the InspectaCar family. I have been part of this franchise for the past 15 years - that must count for something! All existing dealerships have been operational for many years and show a profit year on year. Take a leap of faith to convert and see how this is an ideal partnership between InspectaCar, WesBank and the dealer.
Pertunia Sibanyoni, CEO of InspectaCar, adds: “While the car buying journey may have moved online, it still holds true that customers are looking for professional knowledge and guidance from the salespeople they interact with on the dealership floor, be it for a test drive or to finalise the purchase.
Our dealers are committed to providing a wide choice of quality pre-owned cars, in a safe and hygienic environment for our customers. This we do by implementing the latest technologies to allow them to transact digitally and in person, by complying with strict COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols, ensuring that their experience is efficient, convenient and seamless.”
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