PertuniaSibanyoni, a multitasker adorning many feathers of achievement is highly regarded in the industry, with sixteen years’ experience in franchising, twelve of them spent in the Oil and Energy working with Industry Giant, Shell and then being headhunted by WesBank in 2017 to be the CEO of InspectaCar Pty Ltd. She became Chairperson of the Franchise Association of South Africa (FASA) in 2020 and is now poised to take franchising to a new level in South Africa. Putting keen emphasis on maintaining first world franchisee standards in a sector which generates revenue over ZAR734 billion (or 14% of GDP), through its around 800 franchise systems, 48 000 franchised outlets, and employing close to half a million people in South Africa.
A Life less Ordinary: Guiding the change:
InspectaCar was around since 2002 when Pertunia was offered the position of CEO in 2017. She says, “The key challenge was to turn the business around, one that had been in operation since 2002. In the 15 years of its existence as a business, it had never been operated as a franchise with a dealership network not showing any growth.” Due to the immense trust, she commanded, WesBank gave her complete control, she shares, “I was provided with a clean slate, which allowed me to craft a robust turnaround strategy for the business. One that ensured that all imperative franchise operations and standards were put in place.” One of the major challenges was to dispel the notion with customers, “buying a used car is buying someone else’s headaches” something she wants to turn on its head by being a trusted partner for both customers and franchisees. InspectaCar offers a variety of quality used cars that have been inspected before being available in the showroom along with subordinate services like Finance, insurance, and value-added products all available under one roof. As the only car franchise of pre-owned cars to be owned by WesBank they bring strong credibility and brand recognition along with the professionalism of the highest order. To execute on the corporate tagline, “Second hand will never feel second best,” she implemented an innovative and growth-centric approach coupled with sales and operational skills. Revitalizing the InspectaCar brand, with a consistent and professional corporate identity for all the InspectaCar dealerships. These implementations were made with a clear focus on ensuring that there was a digital presence, in line with the shift in consumers’ buying behavior.
Being a young black female in a male-dominated franchisee industry, FASA provided the much-needed stamp of authority. As she states, “I had to build competence faster than my male counterparts in similar positions, to gain credibility and climb the corporate ladder.” FASA has been around for more than 40 years and has managed to implement world-class ethical franchising principles in South Africa’s Franchise market which is a beacon of success and professionalism for the whole continent. As Pertunia shares, “The association is working closely with the government to have its code of practice legislated and an ombudsman appointed to oversee the sector.” FASA’s strategic objectives going forward are dove-tailed to the needs of the country and in assisting the government in the restructuring and rebuilding of the economy. FASA also envisions the following aspects to play an important role in their endeavor, continuously promoting and enabling responsible and ethical business practices. Proactively supporting and promoting economic transformation. Collaboration with key stakeholders to drive economic growth and job creation, and prioritizing innovation to increase awareness, training, and development for the franchise industry through digitization.
“I had to build competence faster than my male counterparts in similar positions, to gain credibility and climb the corporate ladder”
Social Responsibility: Promoting Safety & Wellbeing:
Pertunia passionately believes in paying it forward and has been investing her time in raising funds and supporting the ongoing success of WheelWell. It is the only organization in South Africa that actively promotes wearing seatbelts and vehemently advocates for the usage of Child Seats, and boosters for children. The thought-provoking information on child safety and the importance of properly restraining a child in a child seat while traveling in a vehicle resonated strongly with her. She says, “Businesses are influential citizens in society and the most effective ones do so much more than focus on the bottom line: they utilize the expertise and passion within the business to assist with societal difficulties and challenges, and to give back to the communities in which they operate.”
Since early 2019, InspectaCar (both Franchisor and Franchisees) has actively collected and donated car seats to those less fortunate. They regularly send out national appeals to parents who own a child car seat that they no longer use to consider donating it to a deserving family. Dealerships around the country are the drop-off points for the pre-owned car seats. In turn, it is ensured that they are sent to WheelWell for the necessary checks and refurbishment. Through InspectaCar’s involvement in this campaign, they are touching the lives of thousands of South African children.
Similarly, the FASA CSR is closely linked to the government’s goal of radical economic transformation. In a country with very high unemployment rates, FASA believes that it can continue to play a role in promoting entrepreneurship through franchising that will ultimately result in job creation. This can be achieved through establishing public/private partnerships that tap into the developmental formats of micro, social, and tandem franchising.
Post-Covid: Outlook & Future Projections:
As Pertunia shares, “In its efforts to provide customers with peace of mind, InspectaCar implemented a number of new systems and protocols to ensure buying and selling pre-owned vehicles was as safe and easy as possible.” The franchise adapted itself to deal with the challenges arising from restrictions, beginning with the complete upgrading of its website to enable customers to enjoy a large part of their buying journeys from the safety and comfort of their homes. Customers were able to go online to their website, select the vehicle of their choice, in the area of their choice, and were able to choose from a variety of financing options and Value-Added Products (VAPS). This website was integrated with the full dealership network comprising of 1 head office and 22 franchisees nationwide. From online convenience to the well checked, a wide variety of quality vehicles; transparency, dealing with professional and trustworthy staff, to the finance, insurance, and value-added products available to customers throughout the vehicle ownership journey. In that way, InspectaCar has actively changed the used car dealer landscape.
Being a thought leader in the dynamic industry of auto retailing Pertunia has been able to implement marketing assistance such as personalized social media tactical plans and lead generation marketing access to all existing franchisees seamlessly. The first decision that was made when lockdown came into effect in March 2020, was to waiver franchise fees for a certain period along with providing the franchises with ongoing critical information to keep their businesses going, including financial relief packages, as well as specific documentation and advisories on how to operate safely in lockdown level 4 and onwards. These steps have proven to be extremely crucial in franchisee retention and future interests. She shares, “We have seen a rise in interest from stakeholders looking to invest in an InspectaCar franchise. Over the past few months, we have seen in excess of 110 inquiries come through to us, with more than 20 serious applicants who have initiated the process of inquiry into a franchise. It is interesting to note that seven interested parties are currently operational in the retail dealer environment. This is hugely encouraging as these investors have in-depth knowledge of this unique industry.”
A recent testimonial from Derick Smith, owner of InspectacarWonderboom showcases the impact of the company, “I appreciated the fact that InspectaCar is an owner-operated model, which in my opinion is key to the success evident in all InspectaCar franchises. In Afrikaans, they say, “ver van jou goed, naby aan jou skade” (the master’s eye makes the cattle thrive). The fact that I am involved in all aspects of the business with valued guidance but not interference from the franchisor, is also a major plus factor.”
With a glorious journey so far and a world finally ready to shake the dawdling of the pandemic Pertunia shares excitedly before signing off, “We are currently piloting a very exciting product that is deemed to change how customers buy vehicles through the entire journey with some key partnerships to unravel as we remain agile all the time.”