Honours in the 2016 Business-of-the-Year (BOTY) competition were shared among the retail dealerships of five motor franchises in South Africa when the category winners were announced at the awards evening at the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit and Conference Centre recently. The winners came from General Motors, Volkswagen, Mazda, Ford, and Toyota dealerships.
There were 21 finalists in five categories for the 2016 BOTY contest organised under the auspices of the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) and Sewells-MSX International, an outsourcing and consulting company that specialises in the automotive industry.
Sewells MSX International SA evaluates the operating financial data of more than 1 000 dealerships countrywide each month and once a year the best performers are honoured. This is the 18th year in which these prestigious awards have been made.
The very successful awards event enjoyed the co-partner support of several major players in the retail motor industry in WesBank, TransUnion Britehouse, Tracker, Gumtree, Henkel, iX, Seriti, Africa Analytics and Wilken Communications.
The winner of the Large Dealership of the Year category was McCarthy Toyota N1 City in Cape Town, where the dealer principal is Peter Vermaak. He says he used the Sewells MRA model to identify opportunities to improve the dealership’s performance in terms of its return on operating assets.
Vermaak said the team at the dealership saw its strategic plan for 2016 as a living, breathing action plan that needed to be actionable and flexible. The results were a dynamic daily approach to bullet-proofing the business, ensuring all areas of sales and after sales were optimised. He says he had the benefit of an enthusiastic team driven by a competitive spirit. It focused on the dealership’s potential, rather than its target.
Winner of the Medium Dealership of the Year category was BB Auto Ford, in Polokwane. It is headed up by Thys de Kock, who says that he had already set a benchmark as winner of this category in the 2015 BOTY competition.
He sees his management and other staff member, all of whom have been with this dealership for more than five years, as the driving force behind the continued success. De Kock says it is a sale-driven operation with F&I not seen as an administrative function, but rather the control room for structuring every deal to optimise margin.
The Small Dealership of the Year winner, Super Group Leon’s Mazda, in Rustenburg, is headed up by Christo Henning who has been a finalist on two occasions. He sees his dealership’s success coming from a seamless approach to customer service from the initial sales lead to the total after-sales experience. Henning also gives credit to Mazda SA, whose systems and processes are all customer-friendly, and have assisted Leon’s in rebuilding the Mazda brand using several innovative marketing activations.
The Commercial Vehicle Dealership of the Year category was a new addition for the 2016 competition. The first-time winner was NTT Volkswagen Motors, East London, where the dealer principal is Gerhard van Zyl.
Once again customer focus has been the critical success factor. He says that maintaining regular contact with the fleet owners ensured the team never missed a sales or service opportunity, with the service department excelling as it delivered exponential growth. Van Zyl also believes that the fact that his strongly motivated team could rise to the challenge in difficult times was an important factor in generating a satisfactory return on operating assets.
The final award went to the Most Improved Performance Group Member, where there were again three finalists. The winner was David Emond, the Dealer Principal of Emond Auto General Motors in Durban North.
He said that the team at Emond Auto GM knew from the conservative economic forecast for 2016 that it would have to change the way it did business to return a reasonable trading profit. The result was the adoption of a strategy of margin before volume, avoiding desperate deals and banking quality customers.
The result was better margins from private sales. This was made possible by leveraging the dealership’s reputation for honesty and integrity and by finding ways to add real value, not discount value, to every deal.
“This year’s Business-of-the-Year has once again been a wonderful motivator for the dealerships committed to submitting their monthly financial reports to us so that this information can be analysed and in turn used to improve these businesses,” explained Warren Olsen, the CEO of Sewells MSX International SA. “We have worthy winners and are now looking forward to these awards proving a spur to other dealerships to get into the winners’ circle in the 2017 competition.”