Michael Bentley, Managing Director of Action Auto Zambia Ltd, speaks to us about the company’s recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and how it is continuing to put customers’ vehicle requirements and satisfaction at the forefront.
WITH YOU FOR THE LONG RUN
Having been established in 1997 in Lusaka, Zambia, Action Auto Zambia Ltd (Action Auto) is the appointed and authorised franchise dealer that sells, services, and maintains Isuzu passenger, commercial, and light commercial vehicles. Additionally, it is an authorised warranty centre that sells original Isuzu parts for a variety of customers.
With three locations across the country, the company has continued to offer mobile services to cater to customers with vehicles in more rural areas of Zambia, despite the many challenges that have presented themselves over the course of the past five years.
Passion and excitement run deep within the structure of Action Auto, shaping the core of the company and contributing to the continuous innovation and developments that it is proud to boast.
“The automotive industry continues to be an exciting and challenging place to be working in – with the past five years offering different unprecedented encounters, and most of all, being challenged by dynamic, ever-evolving customer requirements in a changing world,” opens Michael Bentley, Managing Director of Action Auto.
Specifically, the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which gripped the world in 2020, significantly impacted vehicle sales. Action Auto had to employ measures to safeguard its staff and customers during a time when face-to-face interactions were restricted.
“It was a tough year for us, and had it not been for our core customers who continued to support and purchase vehicles, we would not have been able to maintain our staff at a time when many other businesses had no choice but to permanently close,” expands Bentley.
The following two years did not prove to be any easier, with lockdown policies continuing to impact supply chains and the shortage of global microchips and vehicle components causing further disruption, resulting in unprecedented waiting periods of up to one year for a car.
“We have, however, come through the other side stronger as a team, and we’re excited to see what the future holds in a country as vibrant as Zambia,” enthuses Bentley.
While there have been many integral recognitions over the past few years due to the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most vital examples is the crucial relationship between companies, their partners, and suppliers.
Action Auto readily recognises the importance of these relationships to the success of its business.
“During 25+ years in operation, we have learned that by aligning key stakeholders and partners, supply chain collaboration helps us with the improvement of customer delivery, which drives business growth,” explains Bentley.
With partners including banks, vehicle accessories, lubricants, batteries, vehicle cleaning, security, office supplies, and internet connectivity, Action Auto has maintained over 90 percent of its key partnerships throughout much industry disruption.
Specifically, the company’s partnership with Isuzu allows Action Auto as a franchised dealer to actively provide user feedback for the innovation and acceleration of new product development with ease and confidence.
Another critical aspect that the company prides itself on is the high level of customer service provided at every level.
“We take pride in our service and strive daily to deliver it to the highest level. We see our customers as an extension of the Isuzu family, and each interaction must cultivate that feeling through continued enhancement of customer satisfaction and building strong relationships,” he says proudly.
This environment is cultivated by the Action Auto team, who are encouraged to create a positive and friendly experience from the very beginning, through to the vehicle purchase and delivery process, and finally, to the life cycle maintenance of the vehicle.
“Our company ethos continues to create lifelong customers that stand the test of time,” cements Bentley.
Having recently been awarded the Best Specialist Japanese Vehicle Dealership Southern Africa for 2022 by The Business Concept, Action Auto has proven time and time again its commitment to serving people
In addition to this award, the company has received, for the second year in a row, the 2023 Best Specialist Japanese Vehicle Dealership Southern Africa by The Business Concept, further displaying its competitive prowess and tenacity.
Alongside Action Auto’s various awards and recognitions, the company has expanded even further, opening the Leopards Hill Branch, a quick service facility catering to the eastern part of Lusaka.
‘‘The city of Lusaka has grown exponentially in the past 10 years, and we took the opportunity to open in a newly built shopping centre in the area. This facility has been a further blessing as it has increased our reach as customers grew weary of the traffic congestion in the Central Business District (CBD),” explains Bentley.
To progress customer service and satisfaction even further, the company revamped and renovated its headquarters (HQ) and Kitwe facilities over the course of the past five years, updating the showroom and workshop for better flow and efficiency.
Looking towards the future, Action Auto purchased a five-hectare plot of land in 2023, close to Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, and a truck workshop across the road from its HQ in Lusaka.“We intend to develop this land over the next 10 years in order to move the entire HQ facilities to the site, maintain a bonded storage warehouse for vehicles, and a larger parts storage and distribution facility for the country and perhaps even neighbouring countries,” comments Bentley.
Finally, after a pause resulting from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is in the process of renewing its partnership talks with some key organisations to open authorised service outlets around the country, with an initial focus on northwestern and southern provinces.
A COLLECTIVE FUTURE
As the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted, community and teamwork are crucial to the success of not just any business, but any society that wants to find collective growth.
No better is this personified than through the corporate social responsibility (CSRP) practices that Action Auto partakes in.
“We are firm believers of supporting our community. From financial, material, logistical, or physical support, volunteer work, or providing complementary auto maintenance to first responders, we have demonstrated our support,” states Bentley.
The company likewise supports two charitable, non-profit organisations that help and educate orphans – Human Service Trust, and Chawama Chesire Homes for the elderly and homeless – and recently partnered with Mission Geeks, a non-profit supporting the work of Christian missions and community development organisations in the fields of education, health, and conservation.
Additionally, those at Action Auto are extremely passionate about the conservation of wildlife in Zambia and channel this passion into supporting and volunteering as Honorary Wildlife Police Officer (HWPO), units, a division of the Zambia Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW).
“Myself and a few of our staff members are part of HWPO, donating our time and offering logistical and financial support for anti-poaching and wildlife rescue patrols,” expands Bentley.
With plans to grow alongside its community, Action Auto has detailed a two-to-five-year plan with the goal of implanting the company in areas of Zambia in which it has had very little presence other than mobile service teams.
This will be accomplished by utilising strategic partnerships with some of its suppliers who have already established a presence in these areas in order to better serve the company’s ever-growing customer base who are no longer
just operating in the areas along the line of rail or major road networks.
“We are growing our team, looking towards the youth who offer fresh and enthusiastic energy, innovative thinking, diversity of thought, and digital fluency, which is becoming important amidst the increased use of social media as a tool for increased customer reach,” concludes Bentley.