Familiar with the local car industry due to his 16 years of experience in car sales, Freddy Tan decided to put his expertise to good use and set up a car dealership called Veri Cars. Started in June 2007 with two partners, Freddy is now the sole owner of the business.
“Being your own boss may seem great but in truth it is not easy to start up a business. Lots of sacrifices have to be made – money aside, your prime time is used up as you dedicate your heart, soul and entire life to the business. However, I have no regrets making these sacrifices as I always strive to prove oneself,” said the 38-year-old who prides himself on his business.
With a strong client base gathered over the years, Freddy has seen the best and the worst of the local car industry, in both new and used car sales, but is glad to have loyal customers who stuck with him throughout. “It is important to build a strong clientele who will return to you in good and bad times. Getting new clients is always the challenge, as well as maintaining them after that,” Freddy shared.
Presently for Veri Cars, used cars are slightly more in favour than new cars due to the high COE prices. Freddy also observed that sales of Continental new cars have picked up as the percentage increase in price due to the high COEs is not as great compared to Japanese cars.
“Continental cars are getting more popular, but I think there will always be more Japanese cars than Continental cars on the whole, for Singapore that is. Right now for used cars, people are looking at Japanese cars but for new cars it’s the Continental cars that are moving,” Freddy said.
While many will say one of the greatest challenges is the decline in demand for cars, Freddy feels that a universal problem is in hiring workers – to the point where finding good workers is a bigger challenge than getting customers.
“Nowadays the younger generation only sees the success and is oblivious to the hard work that goes behind the success. It is very difficult to find good and dedicated locals to work these days. I find that there is a lack of perseverance and determination in the youngsters of today. They just want easy money by making quick bucks, but refuse to work hard and are scared of hard work. Finding good workers are important as it will mean good business,” Freddy shared.
Of course, there is also the everyday challenge of being in such a competitive and intense industry.
“Since Veri Cars started up till now, there have been a few periods of recession. Such times are tough as cars become a luxury, not a need. Businesses still have overheads incurred and so funds are drained. It is not easy to survive this trade as we have seen many having to wind up during bad times. As we conquer each crisis, we only become stronger,” said Freddy.
Having tied the knot just over a year ago, Freddy finds himself having to accommodate both ways – at home and at work.
“Communication is of utmost importance between any two parties and I’m lucky to have an understanding wife who tolerates my long hours and takes good care of our home,” Freddy told me during the interview in his showroom at Automobile Megamart.
With a keen interest in anything related to engines, Freddy is a true petrolhead and indulges in the occasional race. Other than taking his car up to Sepang International Circuit for a day of adrenalin-rushing tracking, he has taken part in car park rallies and sprint races.
Freddy attained his driving licence before he enlisted into National Service and only competed in his first ever race at a car park rally in 1994. These days however, Freddy barely has the time to drive up to the Malaysian tracks or take part in races as most of his time is spent on growing and building the business.
For the future, Freddy is working towards expanding the business and opening more branches around Singapore.
*This was first published in Best Car Singapore.