Kelston Awards

Renault South Africa named Eastern Cape vehicle sales specialist Kelston Motors its 2023 Group of the Year at an awards function in Pretoria recently.

Kelston Renault in Makhanda also brought home Dealer of the Year in the Micro category.

“This is a great achievement for us,” said Kelston operations director Peter McNaughton. “Renault is a relatively young franchise in the group.”

The first branch was acquired in 2019 and the second two years later.

Renault SA basis its awards on a 70 per cent sales (parts and vehicles) component and 30 per cent quality (including CSI).

Founded in 2000, the Group has grown to more than 20 dealerships representing 14 vehicle brands across the province.

Renault had a strong presence in the region, largely owing to the affordability, reliability and design of its vehicles, said Peter.

Being honoured as Group of the Year speaks to Kelston’s commitment to excellence in customer satisfaction and service. It is also testament to its policy of recruiting individuals who live the ethos of integrity and honesty.

Kelston Awards

At Renault South Africa’s Dealership Awards in Pretoria are, from left, Renault SA CEO Shumani Tshifularo, Kelston managing director Mike McNaughton, Renault vice-president of sales and operations Zian van Heerden and Renault vice-president of after-sales Albrecht Grundel. Photo: Supplied

“Having people in place who embody those values is one of the keys to success,” he explained.

Kelston has found that internal promotions play a crucial role in business success as the practice motivates employees to excel and improve their skillsets.

To this end, the Group is currently running a junior management programme for 13 staffers picked from various dealerships who are seen as having the potential to add value to the business in coming years.

Managing director Mike McNaughton put his team’s success down to a focused approach.

While Renault was part of a multi-brand strategy, it was important to separate it from a sales team, sales performance and sales management perspective, he said.

“Targets are set overall and then broken down to individual efforts.”

He was especially pleased that the Makhanda dealership had been honoured as the town’s embattled municipality and the adverse publicity it attracted made for a particularly difficult trading environment.

“When something like this happens, it shows what can be done. It’s almost inspirational for the other brands.”

He commended Renault Makhanda’s management team for their internal recognition model and praised the service advisors and sales representatives, whom he described as the “heart of the dealership”.

The Group’s community-facing strategy in the province was one that was working well, said Mike.

“Buying a car or bakkie is often a big decision and is in many cases either the biggest or second biggest purchase a person makes. As such the consumer often likes to deal with a person and we have many examples of people buying the car from the person irrespective of the brand.

“Our community-based sales model is based perhaps on a question of trust in both the salesperson and the brand. If something goes wrong, the dealership is right there to take responsibility.”

Mike accepted that the trading environment was “tough” but said Kelston had worked hard to increase employee productivity, boost returns from after-sales departments and cut costs while ramping up its focus on vehicle sales and other opportunities.

“The external elements currently affecting the market are not driving people away from making new car purchases,” he said.

“The OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are hard at work adapting to the new market and there are a number of new affordable cars coming into the marketplace.”