BUBBLING, contagious enthusiasm for everything he does, along with loyal and motivated team members who are totally committed to the products they sell and services they render, together with a daily business monitoring system are the winning ingredients for his ongoing success says Gerrie Cronje, the Dealer Principal of Produkta Nissan in Mbombela (Nelspruit, Mpumalanga).
He was adjudged out of 1 200 Sewells MSXI Performance Group members – dealers from all brands – as the most improved member in South Africa in 2015. He is also very proud that his dealership was the winner of the Nissan After-Sales Dealer of the Year award in 2015 and has been voted best place to buy a car by the public in Mbombela for the past three years in a row.
Cronje, a seasoned and experienced motor man, has been through the mill in the industry over the years and his varied career has equipped him well to be a successful overall business leader.
Starting as an articled audit clerk in the corporate finance division at the Nissan SA factory in Rosslyn he soon moved into marketing as the manager of marketing finance. His next progression was as a Business Manager assisting the Nissan dealers and this was followed by his appointment as Regional Sales Manager for Nissan in Gauteng.
Then came the challenge of joining a start-up automotive company as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and second in command. The company was Honda SA, which was returning to South Africa as a standalone operator after its links with Mercedes-Benz SA had been broken several years previously. He was then the youngest general manager in Honda’s European region of which the SA company formed part.
Cronje spent seven years building up his experience bank at Honda SA before he left for another challenge. This time it was taking up the position of CFO at an affiliate of another international company, United Technologies Corporation, which was involved mainly in the local security industry.
Two years later Cronje was lured back into the motor industry to join former Nissan colleagues in their retail undertaking, the Produkta Motor Group which was established in 1997 and consists of multi-franchised dealerships in Mbombela, Malelane and Johannesburg.
Cronje was appointed Dealer Principal of Produkta Nissan which now operates out of a flagship facility in Riverside Park, Mbombela. This was five years ago, and meant that Cronje and his family had to move from Johannesburg to Mbombela.
“The relocation went well and we are very happy living in Mbombela where we have been assimilated into the local community,” added Cronje.
This was also the time that he got involved with Sewells MSXI, the local subsidiary of the global consulting and outsourcing firm that concentrates on the retail motor industry. Cronje became a member of the local Sewells MSXI Performance Group and says this has been an excellent driver for him and his business as he can regularly benchmark his dealership with competitors. “We manage our business on the MRA principles of Mix, Retain, Activity and strive for best in class ratios,” he added.
“I am always looking to improve my own ability as well as my overall business and when I am not in the top position in any discipline I interrogate the data to find out where we, at Produkta, may have a shortcoming. To this end, I also have all the previous day’s sales and stocking data available each morning so I can monitor the performance of each division in the dealership, which employs 60 people,” explained the Produkta Nissan DP.
“Ongoing communication is vital for team-building and staff motivation so we have weekly meetings at departmental level where we review the monthly progress and develop and review action plans. We also have bi-weekly overall dealership performance review meetings with the executive members of the Produkta Motor Group. Then I have the Sewells MSXI Performance Group meetings every three months, which all keep me up do date and on the pace.
“I am also a strong supporter of all forms of networking, particularly those involving community activities,” added Cronje.
“Customer satisfaction is non-negotiable at Produkta Nissan. It is our culture. First impressions are everlasting and a positive vibe in all areas of the business ensures both repeat and new business.
Customer Retention Management (CRM) activities are reviewed daily and strategies developed and enhanced continuously.
Social Media is also another very important area of the business at Produkta Nissan and they are constantly reviewing the company’s approach to doing business and make changes to improve and to keep abreast of new developments.
Cronje ensures that he and his team have mutually beneficial relationships with the OEM, in this case Nissan SA and other business partners and suppliers. “We have an excellent understanding, built up over the years and this works to the benefit of all the parties involved.”
Cronje concluded by saying that he is fortunate that he has the backing of a management team and investors that allow him to carry out his vision to ensure his dealership stays successful, and most of all, profitable with an above benchmark Return on Investment (ROI).