The rise in living expenses in South Africa due to load shedding and other factors – not a hike in retail prices – will put pressure on potential buyers of passenger and light commercial vehicles in the first half of 2023.
Kelston Chery East London dealer principal Robert Campbell believed that the cost of living was becoming a “real issue” as the traditional middle-class market was being weighed down by the ever-increasing financial pressure.
As consumers shopped around to get more bang for their buck, he felt value for money would become decisive in attracting the attention of consumers.
Despite the bleak outlook, Campbell suggested that the state of the economy in fact presented the perfect opportunity for dealerships to prosper.
“It puts the onus on the industry to present a product at an affordable price point without compromising on its features or quality. Brands can now be positioned as the perfect value-for-money product.”
Therefore, he said, Chery’s strategy was to offer great cars packed full of features with a service and warranty plan to back it all up – and all of it “at a very attractive price point”.
Campbell said happy customers went hand-in-hand with value and that it was therefore imperative for dealerships to offer them a premium service to boot.
“This must happen from sales all the way through to parts and service. We must aim to gain the trust of the public and we must aim to become one of the top performing Chery dealers in the group.
Campbell took up is post in January and immediately started looking for ways to make the delivery process “something special” to get customers to talk about the service they have experienced.
He is also making it his mission to be personally introduced to every customer who takes delivery of a vehicle.
“By building relationships with customers and the community at large I know we can extend the Kelston footprint in the region. Customer relations is the keystone to a successful dealership.”
While the Kelston Motor Group was already firmly entrenched in the Eastern Cape, Campbell said the East London dealership was in a position to serve a bigger market.
“I think that with our current model line-up, we can cover a large market in South Africa,” he explained.
“This ranges from an entry-level offering that is at a great price point but still offers excellent value in terms of features, through to some exceptional seven-seater options.”
He also confirmed that more models would hit the SA market in the near future.
“We are able to deliver nationwide, but our focus with Chery is to become the dominant dealer in our area first.”
Given what he felt could be a volatile market, Campbell said it was difficult to gauge sales for the first half of the year.
“No one has a crystal ball,” he said.
“I think the most important factor is to concentrate on what we can control. If we put the effort into these things, we can achieve our goals.”