The power of a brand is amazing. When we say vacuum cleaner, we think Hoover. When we say cold drink, we think Coke. And when we say vehicle auctions, which name springs to mind? Burchmore’s – of course.
This is perfectly understandable: the company has been auctioning cars since 1911. And it’s still the largest vehicle auctioneer in the land – by far. The company – a subsidiary of McCarthy, a division of Bidvest – has now auctioned in excess of 800 000 vehicles, and it’s still going strong!
While auctions still remain the company’s main focus, its business model has evolved along the way, as Darryl Jacobson, managing director, explains. “When the company was first conceived, it was a vehicle auctioneer – pure and simple. As such it was known as Burchmore’s Car Auctions. But then we discovered that the customers wanted more. Some wanted to buy off the floor. Others wanted to trade in their vehicles. Many customers wanted insurance, finance, warranties …”
It was thus that the company name changed to Burchmore’s Wholesale to the Public five years ago. “This was indicative of our extended service offering,” Jacobson comments.
But, while the name has changed ever so slightly, Jacobson notes that the reasons for the company’s success have not. “We have built this business on two things: value for money and convenience,” he explains. “Those two factors have remained in place since day one.”
According to Jacobson, the pricing of cars at Burchmore’s is exceptional. “We sell at wholesale prices – and the public realises that this policy affords them tremendous savings. We don’t pay lip service to this concept either: our cars are all marked with the retail price and the Burchmore’s price, so buyers can see for themselves that they are getting a terrific deal.”
Pricing remains a huge factor amongst buyers. “Times are tough, so more and more buyers are turning to used – they simply cannot afford a new car. This situation has been exacerbated by the crippling fuel price, which has meant that motorists are seeking to reduce their monthly car repayments. This means that they want the best possible used vehicle deal, and they know that Burchmore’s sells at wholesale prices. Right now, affordability is a huge factor – and it will continue have a significant impact on car sales throughout this year,” he predicts.
Then there is the important issue of convenience. “We have a massive variety up for grabs. South Africans do not want to waste time trawling used car lots, where a couple of dozen cars may be on offer. Instead, they are coming to Burchmore’s – because of the variety on offer. Irrespective of the make or type of vehicle that they want, there is an excellent chance that it will be available at Burchmore’s. We have a huge variety in terms of range… from cheap runabouts to low mileage executive cars. We encourage used car buyers to visit one of our three branches and browse; given the variety, they will almost certainly find their ideal car – at a wholesale price, of course,” Jacobson points out.
Burchmore’s also offers customers a range of in-house financing options. “In addition to insurance and warranties, Burchmore’s offers finance to customers who buy off the retail floor or on auction,” says Jacobson.
He reveals that used car buyers often find it easier to secure finance at Burchmore’s because of the fact that the company sells at wholesale prices. “The banks can see the customers are getting a good deal and there is sufficient equity in the deal,” he explains.
Given the value-for-money offering afforded by Burchmore’s, Jacobson anticipates that the brand will remain strong for the next century. “South African car buyers have become more informed and more conscious of pricing. They realise that they can come here and bid against the trade. Therefore I am convinced that Burchmore’s brand will remain strong for many, many years to come,” Jacobson concludes