In life, there are certain things that are essential – things, be they tangible or intangible, that we either can’t live without, or at least make the world around us a better, more convenient place. In virtually all countries, a smartphone would certainly be considered an essential. Perhaps in the UK, cups of tea might fall into this category, if humorous stereotypes are to be believed.
As any South African would soon tell you, cars are a must-have item for many households. In a country so vast, where public transport is all but non-existent, many middle-class families rely on two or more vehicles to get them from A to B; be it for the daily commute to and from work or to do the school run each morning, driving just makes sense.
As such an integral part of our everyday lives, it is only natural that motorists invest so much care and energy into finding the perfect car – one that not only fits the needs of ourselves and our family, but also our personality. A vehicle that is an expression of ourselves in some way.
For many, including the more affluent amongst us, a car purchase is one of the largest purchases we’ll ever make, aside perhaps from buying a house or any business dealings we may invest money in. Making such a financial and emotional investment is a big deal, which is why it is so important to make sure that when we visit a showroom, that the dealership is reputable and committed to delivering the highest standards of customer care, both leading up to the purchase and after. On this level, Citton Cars, one of South Africa’s finest used car dealerships, is without peer.
Since the company opened its doors for business 27-years ago, Citton Cars has a name and reputation that spans Southern Africa, thanks to its customer-first ethos. With over 300 vehicles under one roof from all of the world’s leading international brands, including Mercedes, Audi, VW, Peugeot, and Renault, Citton has the perfect car in stock, whatever the needs of its customers.
“At Citton Cars, we strive to provide our customers with top-quality vehicles, outstanding value for money and exceptional customer service. We have sedans, we have HGV’s, we have double cabs, and we have smaller economical cars. Then of course we have the top-end executive cars – our Mercs, our GTR’s, all that. Basically, we’re very well-balanced,” said Andrea Prelorenzo, Citton’s Managing Director.
He continued: “Our average ticket value is somewhere in the region of R220,000. We specialise in vehicles that have been on the road for fewer than five years and have travelled fewer than 100,000 km – cars that are in the next-to-new space. We’re passionate about what we do, and operate a full one-stop dealership. We have our own in-house workshop – the only one in South Africa; we have a Wesbank finance branch in-house, and staff who have been given the highest standards of industry-accredited training.”
The company’s technical partnership with Bosch, the world’s premiere auto parts and aftercare service provider, is an association that Citton Cars is proud of, and rightfully so. It is telling that Bosch has chosen Citton Cars above all others to work with in South Africa. Customers know when they see the Bosch brand that they are dealing with a company with international-level standards, offering superior service and a superior level of staff training at a competitive price.
Then there’s the technology side of things. Typically, third-party agencies and workshops are very expensive, charging in the region of R1,000 per hour of labour, whereas Citton charges a fixed price of around R550 per hour for a full Bosch service. On top of this, the company benefits from direct links to Bosch’s headquarters in Germany, where all of Citton’s machinery and technology is sourced. Then there’s the Bosch-approved training and apprenticeship programs, all of which come approved and accredited by European standards. In short, Citton has everything in place to provide a standalone Bosch car service, which includes post-sales and maintenance for customers, its technicians are all highly experienced and have multi-brand capabilities.
In a market as competitive and challenging as the used cars sector, Citton’s longevity speaks for itself. Andrea’s view is that the key to its success for over three decades has been its ability to adapt quickly and in-step with a fast-changing world. On this, he said:
“We’ve made the shift from appealing to traditional buyers using traditional marketing to appealing to your more modern, internet-savvy buyer.
The Internet has been a game-changing opportunity because it has changed everything. For example, before, if somebody wanted to buy a new car they might see something on a TV program or in a magazine and if they liked it, they’d come straight to the showroom. It would be that simple. Now the customer is exposed to so much information, and can find out about new or used cars and even buy them from many, many different platforms and sources.”
Whereas some have been unable or unwilling to fully harness the remarkable power and influence of digital marketing, Citton Cars has embraced it with enthusiasm and reaped the rewards. Although the internet has undeniably posed a number of challenges, the internet is also a friend. Through the use of social media, the company frequently interacts with its near 50,000 followers – an incredible number for Citton’s line of business anywhere, let alone South Africa – and through the distribution of engaging and informative industry-relevant content.
“We’ve successfully adapted to a new world with new ways of doing things in a fast-changing market. We can offer finance package decisions to customers in minutes, and communicate and reach out to people through the internet and social media in a way that we never could before.”
However, in Andrea’s view, it is Citton’s 50-strong workforce – its sales team, advisors, technicians, and support staff – who truly give the company the edge over its fellow industry rivals. He went on to say: “We’ve got an academy where we train our staff rigorously in how to do business, how to follow policy and stay within them, and also how to work with the modern buyer – how to interact and reach out to them online, and so on and so forth. I spend a lot of time and energy training my people, and this is one of the key reasons we’ve achieved everything we have. Our staff are the key to our success at Citton Cars.”
Over the years to come, it is difficult to see any outcome for Citton Cars other than further success. Brand growth has shown no sign of slowing anytime soon, and as its 4.75 rating on HelloPeter shows, in terms of reputation Citton’s star continues to rise ever higher. Andrea concluded the interview, saying:
“Our objective as a business is to offer convenience, speed, quality, and great service. As far as price is concerned, we strive to be competitive, but our business model isn’t centred around being cheap. We don’t promise customers the lowest bargain bucket prices, but what we do offer is a great customer experience that continues after the deal is done, thanks to our aftersales and aftercare, along with the additional extras we offer.
We love what we do, and we love bringing a customer and their perfect car together. We’re here to stay.”