The recent official launch of the Supa Quick Centurion Lifestyle fitment centre should be seen within the context of the automotive industry’s commitment to transformation, says Desirée van Niekerk, Supa Quick’s brand manager.
“The Minister of Trade and Industry called on the industry to set incremental, achievable targets for black participation and ownership. The official launch of this franchise highlights the way in which an established business like ours can help black entrepreneurs succeed,” she says. “The two Centurion franchisees, Silimela Lallie and Khaya Ndondo, are both genuine entrepreneurs who have identified the automotive industry, and more specifically the aftermarket, as an area of opportunity, and we are already seeing how powerful the combination of their enthusiasm and business acumen with our brand, best practices and buying power can be.”
Lallie and Ndondo began looking for opportunities in the automotive sector as far back as 2014. After looking at various options across the automotive supply chain, they decided that the aftermarket offered them the most realistic entry point and that it would make sense to ally themselves with a leading franchise such as Supa Quick. When the Centurion franchise became available, they were quick to take it up. By May 2018, they had completed a full refurbishment of the premises and opened their doors for business.
“We aim to differentiate ourselves in the automotive aftermarket by humanising it—there’s something of a trust deficit in that consumers often don’t have expert knowledge and can feel disempowered,” says Ndondo. “By making the fitment centre a safe space for both male and female drivers, we can begin to build a solid client relationship—something that’s not easy given that there is typically a significant interval between visits.”
He says that the franchise’s performance over the past three months tends to validate this approach.
Lallie says that the automotive industry’s long and established supply chain offers many possibilities for entrepreneurs. The aftermarket was attractive because of the relatively low barriers to entry, the potential for repeat purchases over the life of a vehicle and, crucially, the presence of an established franchisor to provide a firm launch pad.
“Working with Supa Quick suited our needs because it means the basic business processes and marketing are taken care of, leaving us free to focus on the human element,” says Lallie. “But given the length of the automotive supply chain, there are opportunities for many different types of business—I don’t think South African entrepreneurs fully recognise the opportunities it presents.”
Van Niekerk pays tribute to the pair’s tenacity and vision. Because they are both young, they first needed to convince the company that they had both the business acumen and staying power to make a success. “This is a highly competitive sector, and giving up the security of a job is always challenging. But they did convince us, and we can already see that their hard work and flair are starting to pay off. In the broader context, we believe that an established franchise like Supa Quick can help black entrepreneurs succeed, something we all want to see happen,” she concludes.
By Ndileka Swakamisa