The winners and finalists in the various categories of the Sewells-MSX International/NADA 2017 Business of the Year (BOTY) contest once again showed, with the financial performances of their companies, that South African vehicle retailers continue to show resilience and robustness in times of falling sales volumes.
“The financial performances of the top dealers were, similar to those achieved by the winners in the BOTY competitions over the past few years, despite overall new vehicle sales volumes continuing to fall in 2016 and 2017,” commented John Templeton, Market Head of Operations for Sewells-MSXI in South Africa, which is an outsourcing, and consulting company that specialises in the automotive industry.
Sewells-MSXI SA analyses and evaluates the detailed operating financial data from more than 1 000 local motor dealerships every month as an important tool for the senior management of participating dealerships.
All dealers that submit their financial statements to Sewells-MSXI each month qualify to participate in an annual contest and are ranked in equal-sized groups according to the value of their operational assets. They are then ranked from highest to lowest using Return on Average Assets (ROAA) percentages without repeating any of the previous vehicle brands.
In addition, Sewells-MSXI SA operates 23 performance groups nationally, each with about 10 members, and these people meet regularly as think tanks to develop ways of improving the operational performance of their motor dealerships. Those who have been a member of a performance group for at least two years are considered for a special annual award which is based on the percentage improvement by their dealership year-on-year.
The list of nominees is then passed to Sewells-MSXI performance group facilitators for their qualitative evaluation and personal knowledge of the various nominees to agree a winner on a consensual basis.
Once a year the top performers in various categories are honoured. The 2017 winners were announced at a gala banquet at the Kyalami International Convention Centre on March 7. This was the 21st year that these prestigious awards have been made.
The awards have the backing of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and the event was supported by several players in the retail automotive environment in the form of WesBank, TransUnion, Britehouse, Africa Analytics, Gumtree and Wilken Communication Management.
This year awards were made in seven categories, with the latest addition being for multi-franchise dealers, handling two or more franchises in a single financial reporting format, aggregates the performance of multiple brands into a single outcome. Other categories were: large, medium, and small dealerships, luxury, and commercial vehicles as well as a special award for the Most Improved Performance Group Member.
The winner in the Large Dealership category was Stephan Delport, of McCarthy Volkswagen Arcadia. The dealer principal says he works on an “inch by inch” strategy, which involves connecting hundreds of dots in the various aspects of the business every day.
“This can only be achieved through an integrated team that works together and recognises the need for urgency,” explained Delport. “We had a successful year in new and used car sales, total commitment from the service, parts and F&I department which all contributed to excellent results in terms of controlling expenses and looking after margins – one inch at a time.”
NTT Toyota in Groblersdal, headed up by Neille Faber, was the winner in the Medium Dealership category. “We treat customers as part of our family in Groblersdal,” said Faber.
“Referrals drive our business in a tight-knit community and my team understands the importance of every interaction with customers and potential customers, be it a phone call, sales pitch of a service. Doing this well means that total customer satisfaction is the only outcome. We also believe that consistency in another hallmark of NTT Toyota in Groblersdal.”
Super Group Rustenburg – Mazda took the honours among Small Dealerships. This dealership is headed up by a former winner, Christo Henning, who says that he has surrounded himself with a young, dynamic team in this Mazda dealership who understand the needs of customers.
“We utilise a ‘pop-up shop’ approach in rural centres, combined with location test drives and this approach has resulted in us closing more deals and exceeding sales targets,” explained Henning. “Combine a great brand with a management team that is empowered to deliver, and you have a winning formula.”
Doran Jaffe’s Lexus Cape Town City dealership took the award in the Luxury Vehicle category. He says that the motto “Experience Amazing” is made to come alive at his dealership.
“Customer service drives our outputs,” said Jaffe. “I insist that my team members greet their customers by name and that every customer touch point exceeds expectation. This personalised approach has resulted in Lexus Cape Town City having the highest customer experience rating in our group. We also use a personalised approach to marketing and advertising, which generates high conversion leads, while targeted activation presents potential customers with an opportunity to experience the brand.”
The first winner of the award for a Multi-Franchise Dealership was Peet Hoffman of Penta Suzuki Klerksdorp. This dealer principal says his team is powered by a culture of urgency in everything they do.
“It’s the essence of a team that shares a vision and is committed to delivering exceptional customer service,” said Hoffman. “The dealership is process-driven and target-orientated. I lead from the front and personally contact customers to check that their experience has been world class.”
Pretesh Singh heads up Hino Pietermaritzburg, which won the award in the Commercial Vehicle category. “Customer retention is critical in commercial vehicle dealerships as the successful businesses are tending to increase their fleet sizes,” said Singh. “For this reason, we are uncompromising on delivering outstanding sales and aftersales experiences to each customer, no matter the size of the fleet. This is delivered by a home-grown team that has seen continuous promotion from within.”
Gavin Brereton, dealer principal of Halfway Ford Goodwood, is the person who got the vote as the Most Improved Performance Group Member. In his view it is “back to basics” for this large dealership, building on the Sewells-MSXI-instilled MRA (Mix, Retained profit and Activity) processes and chasing every possible sales lead.
“Positive results followed this dynamic approach, which, in turn, built staff morale and self-confidence,” said Brereton. “My team then set and achieved goals by continually measuring performance against benchmarks.”
“This year’s Business of the Year contest has once again proved a wonderful motivator for the dealerships committed to submitting their monthly financial reports to Sewells-MSXI so that this data can be analysed and, in turn, used to improve these businesses,” explained John Templeton. “I believe we have identified worthy winners and we look forward to these prestigious awards continuing to spur other dealerships to get into the winner’s circle in the 2018 competition.”
2017 AWARD WINNERS:
Multi-franchise dealerships (two or more franchises): Peet Hoffman (Penta Suzuki Klerksdorp). Other finalists: Donna McCollough (CMH Mazda Umhlanga) and Johann Snyman (Rustenburg Toyota and Hino).
Luxury vehicle dealerships: Doran Jaffe (Lexus Cape Town City). Other finalists: Philip Clough (Audi Centre Arcadia) and Christo Henning (Super Group Rustenburg – Land Rover).
Commercial vehicle dealerships: Pretesh Singh (Hino Pietermaritzburg). Other finalist: John Els (Tavcor Commercial Vehicles).
Small dealerships: Christo Henning (Super Group Rustenburg – Mazda). Other finalists: Des van Zyl (Lionel Motors – Renault) and Jaco van der Merwe (Messina Toyota).
Medium dealerships: Neille Faber (NTT Toyota Groblersdal). Other finalists: Darryl Govender (CMH Nissan Pietermaritzburg) and Tariq Abdoola (McCarthy Volkswagen Silver Oaks Crossing).
Large dealerships: Stephan Delport (McCarthy Volkswagen Arcadia). Other finalists: Robert Downes (CMH Nissan Pinetown) and Peter Vermaak (McCarthy Toyota N1 City).
Most improved performance group member: Gavin Brereton (Halfway Ford Goodwood). Other finalists: Debbie Smith (Imperial Nissan Durban) and Fabio Lazzari (Lindsay Saker Edenvale).