Welcoming webinars

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When the Covid-19 pandemic removed the possibility of face-to-face meetings, MIWA had to find a new way to communicate with our members. If there is an upside to the pandemic, it’s that it has taken place at a time when technology has enabled us to remain connected at all times, and so we were faced with a wide range of meeting platforms to choose from. 

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Top, from left: Madoda Sonwabo, MIWA Associational Rep and Mike Goltman, MIWA Highveld Region Exco Chairperson. Bottom, from left: Andrea Bogner, MIWA Highveld Region Exco Vice Chairperson and Pieter Niemand, MIWA Director.

With the National Executive and Regional Executive meetings having taken place recently, Microsoft Teams was selected as our primary virtual meeting tool. Unsurprisingly, many of our executives were a little uncomfortable with this new way of doing things at first, but they have since embraced it wholeheartedly. We are especially proud of how our team has fought through initial teething problems (particularly around bandwidth and connectivity), giving their utmost commitment to ensure seamless, productive meetings. In fact, general consensus holds that online meetings may have several advantages over physical get-togethers, particularly in terms of flexibility, cost and time-saving – factors which have been especially important as members hurry to ensure their workshops are Covid-19 compliant ahead of the Lockdown Level 3 reopening. With this in mind, there was consensus that Microsoft Teams meetings will remain in use even after the pandemic has passed, as shorter, more frequent meetings appear to be a useful tool in helping us meet our objectives.

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Top, from left: Pieter Niemand, MIWA Director, Shalden Pillay, MIWA KZN Region Exco Vice Chairman, and Suren Sewcharren, KZN Region Exco. Middle, far right: Robin Naidoo, RMI Consumer Affairs Officer KZN. Bottom, from left: Dhaya Naidoo, MIWA KZN Region Exco Chairman, Raven Naidoo, KZN Region Exco, George Jacovides, KZN Region Exco, and Prinola Govender, MIWA Rep.

(Re)open for business!

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Under the regulations of Lockdown Level 4, MIWA members were able to open their workshops to the general public, rather than servicing essential workers only. The reopening took place on 13 May, once workshop members had ensured compliance with new protocols such as strict hygiene and social distancing measures, as well as measures to ensure risk-adjusted trading. 

Although many workshop owners have reported a slow beginning to business, we are certain that this will gather momentum as lockdown regulations ease further and more people are allowed into the workplace. This month we all moved to level 3 and we are finally able to manage all repairs in our workshops.   We appreciate that this will take time to gather momentum. Business is likely to be driven by customers’ financial constraints. We do anticipate however that many consumers will be unable to replace their vehicles and this could lead to more work for our workshops over the next couple of months. 

In the meantime, the very nature of the workshop environment means that infection is unlikely: workshop premises are typically large and airy; technicians are accustomed to avoiding touching their faces; the space between work bays allows for social distancing, and there is minimal contact between incoming customers.  We appeal to everyone to maintain your strict hygiene protocols. Again we stress, just one positive COVID-19 case can close down your workshop.

Have you created your free website?

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Last month, we let you know about the exciting special offered to all MIWA members: Connected Life is offering you the opportunity to host your own website for just R99 per month for the first six months, allowing you to keep in touch with existing customers and connect with new ones. 

This offer has already been taken up by a number of MIWA members, who are all enthusiastic about their experience with Connected Life. Mukwee Tutsiraj of Pangolin Motors in Pretoria says that the process is easy to follow and that the Connected Life team is on hand to offer all the assistance and support needed to get the website up and running, while Dineo Glomane of Womech Mechanical Works Specialists in Secunda says that the offer could not have come at a better time; as the digital platform has provided a new way of communicating with customers when trading conditions are difficult. Leanda Gouws of Motolek Tzaneen, meanwhile, has been particularly impressed by the fact that the website could be easily customised to suit the company’s unique business, which specialises in auto electrical repairs and maintenance. 

Please don’t hesitate to take up this excellent offer.

To get your site click here

To view a sample of how the site looks click here

Driven by talent

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These exceptional wooden cars were carved by Jan Brown, who heads the workshop at Vistarus Mission Station. Vistarus was established in 1998 by Kobus and Lynette Jacobs and now provides shelter to 305 adults, including homeless and addicted individuals, and 90 children. 

Jan has spent seven months at Vistarus, having previously visited the mission station six times over the past 10 years. A building contractor by trade, Jan loves pouring his energies and creative skills into woodwork. 

Jan’s beautiful wooden cars sell from R2 500. For more information, check out Vistarus Mission Station’s Facebook page.

Grading update

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Grading and accreditation are important for all MIWA members; it’s our customers’ guarantee of excellent service. This is why MIWA works hard to ensure that all members meet the highest level of industry requirements, including the use of cutting-edge technology and platforms.

With this in mind, MIWA recently joined forces with WIPCORP to launch a grading project that will see the company – a Level 2 BBBEE project management company with a 14-year track record – conducting unannounced audits at all member workshops. The audit is part of the overall grading process and encompasses health and safety operating procedures, the premises, equipment, administration, specific staff qualifications, waste removal, and staffing to name just a few. Even aspects of the business such as parking facilities, lighting, ventilation, and uniforms are inspected. 

The auditing team is made up of service partners across the country who have been trained in both the technical aspects as well as the auditing of systems. Each service partner has operational experience and access to the latest technological tools to drive unbiased and value-adding services.

Break the stress cycle

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Just because we’ve emerged from the strictest part of lockdown doesn’t mean that all our anxieties and fears have magically disappeared. If anything, now that the economic fallout has become a reality, many of us are feeling more stressed than ever, and this is compounded by the hard work it takes to ensure that businesses comply with new regulations put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

Interestingly, stress doesn’t just take a personal toll; research suggests it can actually harm your business because it’s a highly contagious emotion. In other words, even if you don’t express your emotions out loud, your employees are likely to pick up on your mindset and this may affect productivity, not to mention casting a shadow over the business.

How can you break the stress cycle?

One of the most effective tools you have at your disposal is your breath: as soon as you receive the physical cues that your body has entered a stressed state (think racing heart, sweating palms, shallow breathing), break the circuit by taking several slow, deep breaths. It may also help to actually visualise yourself feeling relaxed – think back to the good old days when a lazy Sunday braai or a day at the beach was the norm.

You may also find exercise a useful channel for pent up anxieties, so go for a jock or a cycle. Sharing your feelings also helps, whether it’s venting over a beer or writing down what’s worrying you.

Finally, acts of kindness don’t just benefit the people on the receiving end – they’re good for you, too. Although the lockdown has affected many of us financially, make a donation to a charity if you’re able – even packing a shopping bag full of pantry staples for a family in need helps.

Embracing online learning

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We’re proud to have embraced online technologies to enhance our offering to members, and our adoption of online training platforms is a case in point. For example, we have joined forces with Electude – the world’s leading automotive e-learning training solution – to create a blended learning programme targeting motor and diesel mechanics. It’s a flexible solution that fills in key gaps in hardcopy learning, to ensure complete curriculum coverage as part of Competency-Based Modular Training.

MIWA members are currently able to complete Automotive Light Vehicle Training (levels 1 to 4) (petrol mechanic), while an Automotive Heavy Vehicle apprentice programme for diesel mechanics will become available shortly.

All material has been designed to appeal to the visual and kinesthetic learning styles that most automotive students find easiest to relate to. To access this material, purchase a license for R900 from the Electude website.

Special offer from HaynesPro

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HaynesPro offers excellent support to MIWA members, with software data packages providing affordable, reliable WorkshopData conforming to manufacturing standards.

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It was with this in mind that MIWA, in conjunction with Autobooks, encouraged members to use HaynesPro products – but, since the Rand’s recent and dramatic fall, the affordability of this European brand has come into question. We’re determined to ensure that this doesn’t compromise our members’ efficiency, however, and so we are delighted that HaynesPro is now offering a range of payment options for a license (which encompasses, maintenance schedules, repair manuals, repair times and wiring diagrams, amongst many other features). Options include a free-of-charge seven-day HaynesPro license, monthly payments, split payments, or one-off payments.

For further information, visit www.workshoppro.co.za or email us at info@autobooks.co.za.

Director’s Desk May 2020

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Here it is: Lockdown Level 3. It’s a moment that many have been waiting for, ushering in not only greater personal freedoms, but also the ability to get back to work and start generating more income.

Of course, this has been a major concern for most of us during the coronavirus lockdown. The financial stress has come at a time when there are many other worries on our minds, from how to remain healthy to how to survive the unnatural state of self-isolation. 

In this month’s newsletter, we do our best to help you deal with all of these issues. We have practical advice on how to handle stress, how to save your business money, how to upskill your employees and audit your business to ensure you’re able to improve efficiency and offer a superior service. We’ve also included information on industry and association developments.

The initial shock of the pandemic is still with us, and its effects are certain to last a while longer. But our attitude in overcoming the challenges these present is key. We can either choose to allow them to become giant obstacles, or we can learn from this experience and use the teachings to help us become more competent, and more competitive, than ever.

Stay safe.

Pieter Niemand, MIWA National Director