Focus on families

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We’ve always thought of MIWA as a family – after all, we all support each other. When one of us is struggling, we pitch in to help by sharing ideas and encouragement. We all appreciate that, although every one of our workshops has its own strengths and special offerings, by uniting we create a stronger industry which is better able to meet the needs of our customers. 

One of the reasons we’re able to work together so efficiently is because a number of our workshops are, indeed, family businesses. We were curious about how these entities operate: what is it like working with family and is it possible to avoid taking work home?

Here’s what they had to say:

Tollie & Bossie Bosman, Magic Auto Sales and Service Centre 

Established by Tollie Bosman in 2007, Magic Auto Sales and Service Centre is a second-hand car dealership in Port Elizabeth, boasting its own onsite service and repair workshop and vehicle valet.

The workshop got its start after Tollie decided it was time to realise his dream of owning a business, having worked as a mechanic and, eventually, workshop foreman at Eastern Cape Motors, a Ford franchise. That dream grew more vivid after he started selling new vehicles. Realising he now had sufficient experience in both areas to offer customers a service as comprehensive as it was unique, Tollie approached dad Bossie for finance. Tollie says that the best part of working together is knowing that there is always someone who has the best interests of the business available to help – even at awkward hours. Of course, there are challenges too. Being family members doesn’t guarantee that you approach work in the same way, and this initially caused frustrations and even a little conflict. Over the years, the family found that the best way around this was by communicating and compromising a little. “When you understand someone’s process, you’re able to trust it and respect it – and that’s key,” Tollie says.

Click here to read the full Q and A

Ceraj & Nina, CerajM B-em Auto Works

Ceraj of CerajM B-emAuto Works decided to start his own workshop, specialising in BMW and Mini vehicles, when his children entered their teenage years. It was a way to ensure they weren’t distracted by unhealthy and unsafe hobbies, he explains, and ended up being the best decision of his life. Today, his son Aadam works at the business, along with his wife, Nina, who is responsible for all admin – although she considers the entire team of 17 staff members to be her children, too. Daiyaan, Ceraj’s younger son, is likely to join the business once he completes his studying – he shares the family’s enthusiasm for vehicles, and is already building a drift car while Aadam works on his race car.

“Our business isn’t about making profits – it’s more about helping the guy on the street who has no motor plan so that he is able to drive his car with complete peace of mind,” Ceraj says. It’s a philosophy that has been particularly rewarding, as the business’s Google rating consistently shows – in fact, the business regularly outperforms BMW! Ceraj maintains that being part of a family business means that everyone is eager to go the extra mile. “A family that works together, stays together!” he says.

Click here to read the full Q and A

Mike & Andrew Goltman, Bryanston Auto Tech

After honing his skills in the hospitality industry, Andrew joined his father Mike in his dealership. By that stage, Mike had already spent almost 25 years in the franchised motor dealer environment and realised there was a gap in the market for an aftermarket independent workshop that offered peace of mind at an affordable price. His hunch was right – by 2016, Mike opened Bryanston Auto Tech, consolidating the business that had been established in Fourways.

Mike says that being in business with family means that values – like trust, honesty, communication, quality, personal care, enthusiasm, empathy, and fair value – are shared, while the different skills each brings to the business means that each member is able to complement each other. Being good friends as well as family makes for a more enjoyable work experience – although, he admits, work sometimes inevitably spills over into home time. “It is important to remember that we have family lives, but we are fortunate because our respective families understand the business and share our passion and commitment.

Although Andrew may not always feel comfortable telling me off for something he feels I should have done differently, he’s learned valuable communicating skills as he tries to navigate the situation.” Mike says that his ultimate goal is to share the knowledge he has learned in the industry to coach and mentor other independent businesses.

Click here to read the full Q and A

Pravesh & Nerisha Singh, Autotonik

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Pravesh Singh established Autotonik two years ago, having amassed 32 years’ experience in after-sales and service. “We decided to create a business that could offer customers efficient, cost-effective, quality workmanship,” he says. Pravesh is supported by his wife, Nerusha, son Saish and daughter Nikisha, who are responsible for functions such as finance, admin, and customer service. He maintains that working with family means that objectives are easier to attain because each individual has a better understanding of the challenges that must be overcome. But, he adds, he doesn’t view the Autotonik family as the four Singhs alone – to him, it encompasses all members of the workshop, as each embraces the loyalty and effort required to make the business a success.

“Maintaining a vehicle and maintaining a family share a lot in common – at the end of the day, they both perform best with love, care, regular check-ups, and a good journey to share at the end of the road.”

Click here to read the full Q and A

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Keeping in touch

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This has been a great way of keeping in touch with each other and sharing the latest developments. It is also an important health check. We all appreciate how difficult this time has been. It has become so important to just connect regularly with one another on both a professional and business level to keep our ‘family’ together and to stay motivated and focused. We know that many of our members now are dealing with Covid positive family members and friends and that is never easy. The humane side of business must not be forgotten.

Maintaining motivation

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been four months since the lives we knew all but disappeared. Since then, it’s been a battle for most of us to adjust to a new world where money is tighter, braais less frequent, and everything a little more difficult. If every day feels harder to get through, you’re not alone. Here’s how you can make the struggle a little easier – for you and your team.

  • Make work meaningful. Stress and anxiety are exhausting – which is why you feel tired even when you’re doing less than usual. Because you (and those around you) are low on energy, it’s tempting to cut things down to basics. But, surprisingly, that’s going to add to your frustration. Engagement is energising, so look for ways to make work more meaningful. For example, maybe you can introduce a campaign to focus on providing the most outstanding customer service. Alternatively, encourage staff to identify problems they perceive within the business, and suggest ways to fix them. Challenges are always exciting, so make each person feel that they have a way to contribute to the business.
  • Get personal. You’ve heard this before, but one of the worst fallouts of the pandemic is the emotional isolation we are all experiencing. Social get-togethers are still banned, and even when you have an opportunity to talk to someone else, masks and social distancing mean that our interactions aren’t as satisfying as they used to be. Check in with your staff to see how they’re doing – simply asking how everyone is getting on, or finding out what keeps them going when they feel like giving up, might ease some of the emotional strain.
  • Set goals for the business. This is a little tricky when the economy places severe constraints on how customers are spending their money, but having a vision to work towards may create a sense of purpose. It also sets up the opportunity to discuss with employees what impact you’ve made in the past week, and what you’re looking forward to accomplishing next. And that can give you the kick-start you need to move you forward.

What your car is trying to tell you…

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Who says cars don’t talk? With every squeak or warning light, your vehicle is trying to explain that it’s time for a check-up. We recently issued an informative press release, pointing out that consumers will be able to save money on their cars if they pay attention to the following warning signs:

  • Squeaking brake pads, indicating wear, are never a good sign – apart from an immediate safety hazard, they can cause costly damage. And no driver wants to experience brake failure at a crucial moment.
  • A vibrating steering wheel, even when driving on an even surface, is a sign that the car’s suspension or alignment needs attention.
  • Warning lights are pretty self-explanatory, but should always be checked out by a professional mechanic as soon as possible.
  • Windscreen damage should always be addressed as soon as possible – even a small crack can spread within a short amount of time, posing a real safety hazard.
  • Increased oil consumption means that it’s time to replace the oil and oil filters. Look out for a warning light too.
  • Car overheating? This is most likely to be caused by a leaky radiator which is, in turn, a sign of corrosion. Time to replace the unit.
  • Problems with the starter motor can usually be attributed to a faulty motor mechanism, and most often there’s an electrical issue or damage to the solenoid at play. This definitely requires a professional assessment.
  • High fuel consumption doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been travelling long distances. It can also be a sign that tyre pressure needs attention, or that fuel caps aren’t tight enough.

What your mechanic wishes you knew

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None of us expect our customers to know everything about cars – that’s our job! Even so, most of us wish they’d pay a little more attention to certain areas when it came to car maintenance. We asked some of our members what they would like their customers to focus on.

  • A vehicle maintenance schedule isn’t a suggestion – it really should be taken very seriously. Ignoring that schedule puts you in line for some very expensive damage, so don’t be tempted to skip a service
  • Choose your mechanic with care. Not all workshops are equal – some (like MIWA accredited workshops, obviously) can be relied upon to provide superior service with the latest equipment. It’s not a good idea for customers to rely upon their own skills (or advice from Google) either.
  • Ignoring a warning light is always dangerous. Many motorists are guilty of this, but the reality is they’re doing their cars a lot of damage: in fact, the car should be examined by a mechanic immediately.
  • Changing the oil in your car is non-negotiable.

Jayson Bulterman powers ahead

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Power steering may be a lucrative field, but it’s not without its challenges – as Jayson Bulterman, owner of Power Steering Solutions, has learned.

Jayson first entered the industry as a sales rep, working for his uncle. He made a point of learning the technical aspects of the business working in his uncle’s workshop but left after one year. 

At that stage, things were not looking good for Jayson: he had only R16 000 to his name, R14 000 which he owed to other people. So, a call from one of his uncle’s former customers was warmly welcomed – even though he didn’t have the equipment to do the job. That was easily solved though, and Jayson found himself doing his first independent job in his own backyard in 2009.

From there, it made sense to start a business, especially since there was a gap in the Gauteng market. It wasn’t plain sailing though – because banks were reluctant to fund a start-up, he had to borrow money from his wife. 

The business began to grow quickly. In two years, Jayson was able to take on two staff members and move to bigger premises, but his challenges weren’t over. Jayson had a number of issues with his staff, especially when a large group of them decided to leave to start their own business. He maintained his focus though and kept growing the business. 

He discovered a new range of power steering equipment in 2012 and spent the next five years investigating how to bring it to South Africa from Germany. Finally in 2017 he came across a company in Europe that manufactured and trained technicians for electronic testing equipment. He phoned them in April and by October that year had flown over and bought the equipment.

Jayson attributes his success to his willingness to take bold steps and his refusal to let obstacles stop him. He makes a point of treating his team as a family, and trusts them implicitly – and they reward his investment in them with hard work.

Although Jayson has had some very difficult times in the past, he never let this stand in his way. On the contrary, they spurred his determination to do better. In fact in March this year he managed to open another company called Power Steering Supplies and now operates as a wholesale supplier to his own opposition.

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Jayson Bulterman, Power Steering Solutions.

10 top business tips from Jayson:

    • Be courageous to make the big leaps.
    • Don’t let setbacks hold you back.
    • Treat everyone as family. The more you put into your staff, the more you get out.
    • Ensure everyone is working together for the same goal.
    • Make your staff feel appreciated.
    • Don’t police your staff – build up trust. “I don’t have to police the guys. They police each other.”
    • Make your team a part of the big decisions.
    • Give people a chance. Everybody deserves an opportunity. “I personally suffer from Asperger’s Autism, so I can’t keep anything in. If I feel something I say it, which sometimes makes people uncomfortable.”
    • Never say no to an opportunity. When you get offered an opportunity, take it. Take it. Take it. Take it! Don’t walk away from anything.

Learn with Electude

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MIWA members are able to access Electude’s highly regarded e-learning training platform, utilising the Competency Based Modular Training learning method (CBMT), which offers programmes including Automotive Light Vehicle Level 1-4 (Petrol Mechanic), ARPL, and soon to be added Automotive Heavy Vehicle (Diesel Mechanic). Electude is the world’s leading e-learning training solution. 

MIWA members should have received a newsflash earlier this month regarding our new online training opportunity where you can access these courses by purchasing a license from the Electude website. Licenses cost R900 for each apprentice, are valid for one year, and are non-transferable. Contact admin@electude.co.za for information and assistance. We are thrilled with the take up from so many of our members. We really do encourage everyone to change to this digital platform. It really makes good business sense.

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Photo: Fauxels on Pexels

MIWA in the media

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It’s refreshing to read something in the press that’s not about the dreaded COVID-19 – especially when it’s about our members or Association. A very big thank you to all members who have helped us remain in the media’s eye. Here are some of the headlines we’ve made in July in daily, community, and trade media:

Phoenix Sun
Pay attention when your car complains

BizCommunity
Losing your car key comes at a cost

Times Live
What to do if you damage or lose your car key

Automotive Business Review
What mechanics wish you knew

Director’s Desk

2019

Anyone tired of hearing the word ‘corona’? How about ‘new normal’? Me, too. After four months of lockdown, an economy in tatters, and a pandemic of anxiety and stress that’s just as bad as the virus, most of us are feeling decidedly flat. 

That’s why this month’s newsletter is full of feel-good stories. We hear from Jayson Bulterman, who started his power steering business out of nothing and overcame a host of challenges to make it a success. We also hear from the families who have channeled their collective vision and values into thriving businesses. Look out, too, for our advice to motorists, intended to help motorists extend their vehicle’s lifespan, as well as news about training for mechanics.

And, we have tips on how to shake off that ‘stuck in a rut’ feeling that’s affected so many of us at the moment.  We know that the real effect of the lockdown is only now really starting to impact many of our workshop owners. Consumers are increasingly under financial stress and we are seeing lower volumes and delayed payments in many cases. 

At this time I am especially reminded of the quotation by Bruce Lee, “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to act in the presence of fear.” This quotation exemplifies the courage of our MIWA family. We will get through this together. 

Keep safe.

Pieter Niemand, MIWA National Director

Our new CI: Everything you need to know

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Did you know that there are 2 500 businesses under our umbrella? As you can imagine, when all of these units work together, we stand to make a significant impact – but, if each does its own thing, the power of our brand is diluted.

That’s why it’s so important that every business applies the Corporate Identity (CI) we so proudly adopted earlier this year. We believe that the CI makes a bold and strong announcement about who we are and what we stand for. When customers, and potential customers, see our distinctive signature colour and logo, they know instantly that they’re dealing with reliable, trustworthy professionals.

Of course, the power of this brand depends on consistent application. The more we all use it in the same way, the more we entrench our values and image. This is why we appeal to each member to be meticulous in how you apply the elements of our CI – from our logo to artwork – on every piece of communication to leave your office, including letters, email, signage, and posters. 

We’ve released some brand guidelines to help you through this process – if you have any questions about the application of our CI, you’re sure to find the answers in this comprehensive guide. Wilma has all the various logos housed centrally for your convenience.

Be meticulous in how you apply the elements of our CI by using our newly released Brand Guidelines manual.