Old Proton dealership with only a showroom for sales.

In the early days of the car business in Malaysia, many dealers started off in just a small shoplot where they could display new models and sell them. The showroom was the focus of their business and aftersales service was provided at another location or by someone else.

From the 1990s, onwards, the industry began to give much more attention to customer convenience and the concept of a 3S outlet was adopted. This type of outlet would offer sales, service and spare parts in one location, making it easier for customers.

In the past decade, the 4S concept has also be introduced, adding body and paint services as well. This ensures owners get high quality repair services and refinishing.

Many Proton dealers began as 1S (just showroom for sales) outlets, leaving the aftersales support to authorised service centres operated by other companies. Obviously, this limited their business growth since they only made money from the sale of each car whereas with servicing, you have an additional revenue stream which is more long-term. So, over time, some made additional investments to upgrade their businesses to 3S and 4S levels.

Recently, Proton signed a Dealers Network Upgrade agreement with 4 of its dealers who will upgrade their outlets to 3S and 4S centres. The dealers were Baiduri Auto Sdn Bhd, Bunga Raya Auto Credit Sdn Bhd, Setia Gemilang Auto Sdn Bhd and Vantage Speed Sdn Bhd.

Proton’s top management and representatives of the four Proton dealerships which upgrade their outlets

The agreement is the confirmation that the dealers accept the business proposal offered by Proton. They will be required to make the necessary investments to upgrade their outlets to become one-stop centres to provide all the services that a customer would need from the time of considering buying a Proton and then throughout owning it.

Like other carmakers, Proton has its own Corporate Identity and this will be reflected in the new and bigger outlets that promise to provide an enhanced experience to the customers. The upgrade and enhancement of the outlets are in line with meeting the new guidelines of Proton business expansion plan.

“Now you do not have to go from one place to another just to get your car fixed. We will ensure that the upgraded outlets can cater to all your sales and service needs, which ultimately saves you time. Proton should not only sell cars but also provide quality services to our customers as providing a first-class customer experience is utmost important to our company and brand,” Dr. Li explained.

“At the same time, we want to make the upgraded outlets look more refreshing and modern. We want you, the customers, to walk in to a Proton showroom and feel important. We also want you to feel comfortable while waiting for your car to be serviced or when you shop around for a new Proton car. It is a whole new experience deployed for customer satisfaction,” said Dr. Li, adding that he hopes other dealers will also upgrade their outlets in the near future.

File photo of a Proton 4S dealership

Giving a sneak preview of how the upgraded outlet will be like, Andrew Quek of Setia Gemilang said that it will be more luxurious and can display up to 11 models. The service centre will have 14 service hoists, 10 bays for body repair and painting jobs, 30 customer parking lots as well as a new lounge area with many amenities.

“The renovation of our upgraded outlets will most likely be completed by the second quarter of 2018,” he added.

The investment required for the upgrading will be considerable but the dealers believe they are making the right move as they have confidence in the Proton brand. “The decision to upgrade is based on the confidence in the future roadmap and potential of Proton. We strongly believe that Proton products will be of premium quality with an excellent positioning in the Malaysian automotive market, and our commitment is to deliver excellent customer experience,” explained Bunga Raya Auto Credit’s Lee Chee Hong.

The upgrading program includes an incentive support scheme which is also available to those who wish to set up new Proton dealerships. “This scheme is not only competitive but it is also the best scheme available in the Malaysian automotive market. We understand that to succeed, you need equally good business proposals and monetary support, hence the incentive support scheme by Proton for those who plan to expand or upgrade their dealership business to 3S and 4S centres,” said Dr. Li.

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[Chips Yap]

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