Vaal Toyota Sasolburg is one of the category winners in the annual MSX NADA 2019 Business of the Year Awards (BOTY).
The event looked a little different this year as winners were announced virtually in an awards ceremony hosted via Zoom.
The well-known and proud Toyota dealership in Sasolburg, which has been going for 34 years, scooped up the Independent Dealership of the Year Award. It was virtually presented by the Springbok Rugby player, Lwazi Mvovo.
Dealerfloor spoke to the dealer principal, Hannes Strydom, about this great achievement.
1: Tell us more about the dealership itself and is it, in your opinion, more difficult to operate an independent dealership?
We have been going for 34 years as a medium-sized dealer in Sasolburg, an industrial town in the larger Vaal Triangle area. We were blessed as we grew constantly over the past eight years. Last year was no exception.
We have a very dynamic and balanced team. Some of our staff members have been here since the beginning and some joined later. We reflect the demographics of our community and can associate with customers at all levels.
In many ways, it makes it easier to be independent. I think one can be more innovative and adapt quicker to the unique needs of the community. We can also respond faster to market needs.
2: Is this award a first for the dealership and what other accolades have you received?
Yes, it is the first time any brand in the Vaal Triangle has won this kind of award, and we were the privileged dealer for this achievement. Owing to our active involvement in the community, we have received various awards from different institutions and many of our staff have received several accolades from Toyota over the years.
We are also proud of our management team’s regular involvement with Toyota South Africa where our inputs in the industry are valued.
3: What exactly made you the winner and what does a winning dealership look like?
Apart from excelling in all the measurable criteria, the following characteristics distinguish us:
4: The Vaal Triangle is, if one ignores for a moment the COVID-19 pandemic, a difficult economic environment, especially with the downsizing of the steel industry just across the river. How do you operate and trade in such an environment?
We move fast and respond quickly to any new circumstances that could affect us. We also have a good balance between sales and aftersales that complement each other. If we cannot sell a vehicle to a customer, we will ensure that we have an opportunity to provide maintenance and parts. Because of good service throughout, we have excellent support from our community.
5: What do you think the remaining few months of 2020 hold and will circumstances change drastically in the first six months of next year?
We have a lot of faith in the future. The lessons learned now will be of great value in the years to come in terms of cutting down on costs and being as effective as possible.
We are looking forward to a good 2021, which we will tackle head-on with a "mean and lean" operation.
Our investment in the community ensures a lot of loyalty which will benefit us in the future. Because of the lockdown, people will be more inclined to support each other, which strengthens loyalty.
6: How long have you been involved in the motor industry and specifically at Vaal Toyota?
This is my 30th year in the motor trade and Vaal Toyota Sasolburg is only my second job.
I started in 1989 at Vaal Toyota Vanderbijlpark as a Learner Salesman. In 1990, I was the Sales Cadet of the Year. After a successful career in sales, I was promoted to Sales Manager in 1994. In 1996, I became the Dealer Principal at Vaal Toyota Vanderbijlpark, Vereeniging and now Sasolburg. I was privileged enough to receive various accolades from Toyota. I am on the board of the local Chamber of Commerce and serve on the boards of various charitable organisations.
7: What is your business philosophy or motto as the head of the dealership?
Everyone in the dealership has the freedom to contribute and they all know their contributions are appreciated and will be considered. We get wonderful innovative ideas and support from our staff.
Toyota Sasolburg is one big family, and we treat all customers like we would treat our own family.
8: What do you appreciate the most about the brand you represent?
Reliability, quality and durability. Toyota is a leader in green technology and is at the forefront in curbing the spread of COVID-19.
9: How do you relax and do you have any hobbies?
As a family, we enjoy water sports very much. I am creative, practical and keep myself busy making, fixing and building anything in and around the house. Travelling is also something we like to do as a family.
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