‘It’s all about the community’
Graaff-reinet Supa Quick owes its sustained success to deep roots within the community with a rich history dating back to 1974.
Steve Jobs said that "Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people".
Graaff-reinet Supa Quick is certainly a testament to the words of this great man. In 1974 - Kallie Putter - Dawie Putter's father, bought Graaff-reinet Tyre Services from Hector Taylor-freeme, thus laying the foundations for what remains a family-owned business in the bustling town of Graaff-reinet.
Dawie can remember as a schoolboy helping his father clean out the premises in a bid to meet his rigorous standards. "My dad was a bit of a perfectionist, I suppose," he says. This dedication and discipline form one of the pillars of a customer-focused business that the Putters have built up over the decades.
Dawie's brother, Willie, and his Australian wife Linnea, then took over the business from Kallie in 1977, as they returned from traveling several continents and their last outpost, Australia.
Willie and Linnea made the perfect team, with Linnea handling administration and the intensely practical Willie making sure that the shop floor ran smoothly. The Graaffreinet community soon fell in love with this dynamic and pleasant couple. Willie soon became famous for his "can do anything" abilities. He even manufactured batteries on the premises!
Graaff-reinet Tyre Services became one of the first 15 Supa Quick franchises in 1986 under Willie and Linn's leadership. Supa Quick was the first tyre franchise in the country, and it gave this independent business access to greatly increased buying power, top-quality products, price, professional marketing and expertise - thus complementing the family's commitment to service excellence, with the best practices and latest technical know-how.
Willie and Linn sold the business to Dawie and his wife Avrille in 1998, to pursue their dream of sailing around the world.
They are now happily retired in Knysna. Dawie says, "Customers still inquire about them after 20 years... an indication of the esteem in which they were held! Willie and Linn are both outgoing people who built strong links with the community - and that's a tradition I have maintained since I took over from them in 1998.
This is a small community even though it is spread out over a large area, and so to be successful, you have to play a positive role in all facets of its life."
Dawie remains assiduous in maintaining and expanding the business's links with the community. This takes the form of supporting and sponsoring the local schools, sports clubs and cultural events. He remains active in providing assistance with strategic planning, using the skills gained in his 20 years in the corporate world.
"Community life is of ultimate importance to me, I love the people of Graaff-reinet and they remain a priority to me. Supa Quick believes in supporting local businesses. Every cent spent in Graaff-reinet contributes to the wellbeing of our local economy, which is very important to me".
"I know my customers, and they know me. It's more than just business, it is about relationships", he adds. Whether one bumps into Dawie on a mountain bike ride, on the side of a sports field, or in the audience at a production, his care and compassion for the community is evident in his attention to detail and appreciation for those around him.
Exceptional service means exceptional staff
Dawie also believes in doing business in such a way as to support the local economy. He makes a point of buying whatever he can locally, and only sources goods from elsewhere if there is no alternative. He also encourages his clients to do the same.
The key to getting local people, including the large farming community, to support local businesses, is to ensure they deliver exceptional service. Being part of a small, tightly-knit community also means that the business really goes the extra mile for its clients. A recent example was a late call from a client whose husband had to attend a meeting in Port Elizabeth the next morning. His car had a flat and he was recovering from an operation and could not change it.
Dawie made an early-morning call to pick up the tyre and fit the spare, so the client could get to the office, and then had the repaired tyre fitted back onto the car in time for him to leave for his meeting.
As his wife posted her Facebook page: "It's service like this that makes one grateful to live in such a small community." Dawie knows most people in Graaff-reinet. He shows real interest and concern for those around him and is well loved by the community that means so much to him.
Dawie insists, however, that this kind of service, based on delivering true value to customers, is only possible if you have top-notch staff. He attributes much of the business's success to the fact that most members of his 16-strong staff have been with the company for many years. Most of their staff have more than 15 years' service and Supa Quick has seen staff members retire from the business after their life's work.
This is a testimony to the successful family culture which Supa Quick treasures. Dawie speaks fondly of Manager Tiaan Holtzhauzen; Sales Team Leader Fareed Abader; General Sales and Fleet Manager Esmond Heugh; and Petrus Jantjies his longstanding and faithful Floor and Sales supervisor.
"If your staff is engaged and know their business, you will have happy customers - they are two sides of the same coin," he says. "A business needs to be properly run and have the right expertise but, in the end, it all comes down to your people. We have been blessed with good people."
As Sam Watson once said, "We're all working together; that's the secret!" The Graaff-reinet community has often endured difficult times of constraints and drought.
The current recession and aftermath of a very serious drought is no exception. Supa Quick has always been there to serve and support this community through thick and thin.
"We rely on each other for support through difficult times. By faith and endurance, we will see this period through as well." Supa Quick provides an extensive product and service range to the community.
A summary of the product range is available on their website www. graaffreinetsupaquick.co.za
After hours services and support for truck and passenger vehicles are provided all year round. The emergency number is 079 584 8324 (after hours only).
Watch the press and enquire in store for crazy specials this month.
Willie and Linnea Pütter.
Dawie Pütter, the owner of Supaquick Graaff-reinet.