SUBANG JAYA: Proton Holdings Bhd has affirmed its commitment to upgrade its dealership, service and spare parts outlets across the country, in an aim to strengthen its competitiveness in the automotive segment.
Director of network planning and development Tony Thinagharan said this also aligns with the company’s plan to have more 3S and 4S outlets in the future, to provide more convenience to its customers.
He said since 2017, the company has started the transformation to upgrade its 1S and 2S dealership to 3S and 4S centres, right after Zhejiang Geely Holding Group came into the picture.
“We introduced 3S and 4S concept, whereby a sales, service, spare parts takes place all in one centre, aiming to provide convenience for the customers, where we were previously mostly operating in a single S outlet.
“Now we have 125 4S outlets across Malaysia, of which 78 of them are 3S and 47 of them are 4S centres,” he told the New Straits Times in an interview here recently.
Asked if the company plans to revamp its whole 225 1S and 2S outlets to 3S and 4S centres, Tony said this is not necessarily the case.
“Some of the remaining 1S and 2S centres are strategically located near the city centres, where upgrading and expansion cannot happen due to the nature of the location. We would like to retain that.
“We want to keep them, as we have a huge customer base. Sometimes these 1S and 2S outlets actually helped support our 3S and 4S,” he said.
Tony said after 35 years since its inception, Proton’s dealership remains strong, with some of outlets have been with the company since its very beginning and have evolved into a family run business.
He said some of them, who have upgraded their centres into a 3S and 4S outlets, have experienced tremendous growth in customers’ traffic as well as sales.
For Rabitah Shamsudin, 47, she is running the 3S Pantai Bharu Corporation Sdn Bhd, together with her father Datuk Shamsudin Nor which he started 35 years ago. The company is also run by Shamsudin’s son Mohammad Hafidz Shamsudin.
She said sales has been growing since the company relocated into their upgraded and improved 3S centre and Proton has been providing them with the training and guidelines to run the centre and improve their services to customers.
While business has been challenging at some points in time, Rabitah said she and her father, who is now 75, stayed loyal with Proton due to its status as the national carmaker.
“We stayed with Proton at the time when it is not the most sellable car and hope that the sun will shine and we are confident with the brand.
“At that time, when I asked my father what we should do, his answer is simple. Proton is a big brand and they will survive through tough times, and the evidence is clear now more than it was before,” she said.
On the other hand, Lee Thiam Siew, 76, from Bunga Raya Auto Credit Sdn Bhd of Melaka, said he was a second hand car dealer before Proton came into the picture.
He has been in the car business since the 60s and when Proton emerged as the national carmaker during the 80s, he said he is confident with the brand under the leadership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“It is not easy in the beginning but we managed it through the years. In the 80s, Proton Saga was a huge hit for us too. I am lucky that I have a second hand car business on the side, so we survived through tough times.
“We stayed on with Proton until today because we are confident with the brand,” he said.
He also has turned the business into a family run business, working side by side with his son Lee Chee Teong.