One of the missions of Proton, which initiated the first National Car project, was to advance the automotive industry at all levels. Prior to the 1980s, the auto business was largely in the hands of a small number of players – many foreign-owned – and the aim was to help Malaysian businessmen get into the business in a bigger way.
Thus when Proton started, it saw the establishment of a network of dealers, small and large, starting up all over the country. For some, it was the first entry into the car business and they received the necessary support to grow their business. Over time, many of these dealers have worked hard to grow and with guidance and encouragement from Proton, they have become bigger.
Today, the small 1S dealerships which rely only on sales of new vehicles are no longer viable and Proton has persuaded dealerships to upgrade to 3S or 4S facilities where they offer sales, service, spare parts as well as body repairs and painting. In other words, they offer their customers the full range of services that will be required throughout vehicle ownership.
One dealer that has followed the guidance is Harima Automobil on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Harima Auto Mobil was one of the early Proton dealers, having begun its association with the Malaysian brand in 1986, just a year after Proton began operations.
Having served Proton customers for 36 years, Harima Auto Mobil has gained much experience and understands that with competition having increased, they must provide service that goes beyond their customers’ expectations.
While they would have many loyal customers, they have not taken things for granted and in line with Proton’s business direction which requires upgrading of facilities, Harima Auto Mobil’s owners decided to invest in a new 4S centre which can deliver an even better purchase and ownership experience for Proton customers.
“What matters most are customers being happy to visit a dealership to shop for a new car. Once they have purchased it, the onus is on us to ensure they send their car back to us for scheduled servicing. Harima Auto Mobil, however, felt we could not achieve the required level of customer satisfaction if we continued to operate as a small showroom without the necessary facilities, hence, the decision to operate as a 4S dealer,” said Liew Vee Lee, a director of Harima Auto Mobil.
The investment has resulted in the largest Proton dealership in the states of Kelantan and Terengganu. Situated in Tunjong, a fast-developing district of Kota Bharu, the new 4S dealership has a built-up area of 2,400 square metres. The showroom has enough space for 10 vehicles to be displayed and as with other Proton 4S dealerships, there is a kids’ play area, free wifi and a comfortable customer lounge.
Harima Auto Mobil is also working with Proton Global Services to offer other amenities. There is a refreshment area serving Starbucks coffee as well as a merchandise corner selling Proton and R3 branded products. The company is the first dealer in Kelantan to have both services. The service centre has 11 service bays, and the same number of body and paint bays.
“The opening of Harima Auto Mobil’s new facility – Proton’s 149th 4S dealership – will help raise the visibility of Proton in Kota Bharu. By having a full range of amenities and the required assets to serve a high volume of customers, we are hopeful of being able to raise the level of customer service and deliver a truly premium experience for customers in the state,” said Roslan Abdullah. Deputy CEO of Proton.