The Competition Commission Guidelines have now been in force for a full month. We’re sure many issues and questions are arising as you start receiving new customers, so we have compiled an updated and expanded Q&A from queries sent through by our members. Click on this link to learn more.
We’re pleased to extend a warm welcome to Kate Elliott, who has taken on the role of CEO at Right to Repair SA. Kate comes to Right to Repair as a seasoned expert on commercial and competition law. Having completed her LLB, she worked first as an attorney and then senior associate at a Cape Town law firm, focusing on this area. Kate is also well versed in the challenges facing small business owners, as she has played an active role in growing her family-owned enterprise. Find out more about Kate and her plans for Right to Repair on the campaign website. You will also find a wealth of interesting and useful information about the campaign’s progress and way forward in the Q&A section, which is updated regularly.
Welcome, Kate. We look forward to continuing to work with you and the team.
In South Africa, there is a need for a premium quality, independent workshop in the independent sector, and Samuels Service Centre fills this role. We are a fully accredited RMI and MIWA automotive service and repairs workshop.
At the nub of our value system are trust and integrity. We pride ourselves in our customer offering of high quality, trust, great value, a national network, and total affordability. We do this by supplying motorists with premium quality parts across all makes and models of vehicles. We also only use the Veedol Oil range of lubricants which supports our commitment to quality workmanship.
We recognise that the automotive service and mechanical maintenance offer to you, our valued customer, are either service at a recognised motor manufacturer dealership or use an independent workshop.
This choice presents the following challenges: the expensive cost of servicing at a manufacturer’s dealership or the sloppy workmanship of the perceived cheaper independent workshop.
Samuels Service Centre’s aspiration is to solve these two major frustrations by providing a national network of service centres that have the look and feel of a dealership, that is: right locations, roll-in receptions, spacious and clean workshop spaces, welcoming and friendly reception and waiting areas, at the cost of an independent workshop.
At select branches, you can find a boardroom facility so that you can have your business meetings while you wait for your vehicle to be serviced. Other ventures with which we have partnered are a hair salon, a nail technician and a massage therapist.
August is Women’s month and what better way to celebrate than by saluting the wonderful women in our workshops?
Where once workshops were seen as a distinctly male environment, women are playing an increasing role in the aftermarket industry.
Ask any of the women who have forged exciting, dynamic careers in this field, and they’ll tell you it’s not surprising. After all, cars are as fascinating as they are beautiful – why wouldn’t women enjoy them?
More than that, women are able to bring a certain finesse to the field, which is often lacking amongst their male counterparts. Their ability to connect with customers on an emotional level is a considerable asset, as is their thorough approach to the work. Small wonder, then, that women are establishing a presence in all areas of the industry; beyond traditional roles like HR and admin to owning workshops.
At a time when unemployment is so rife, this is a sector that is showing encouraging growth and providing some real opportunities. Eighty percent of accredited RMI business owners, of which MIWA is a proud association, are in fact small to medium size business owners and this is where the growth and employment opportunities that are going to drive the economy will come from. The sector is already peppered with countless vibrant examples.
Take Andrea Bogner, owner of Bogner Motor City Truck and Car Workshop, says having women in the sector is refreshing and challenging. “I find women have a different touch and deal more emotionally when it comes to serving customers, maintaining them, and offering peace of mind. We are also thorough when it comes to procedures and the manner in which work is performed,” she says. Andrea loves to be different and loves having her workshop. “It is not only a business, but I see it as my family. I involve every one of them in the decisions I’m making and ask for their input, feedback and suggestions. We are a team and operate as one. If there’s a goal to be reached, everyone is involved. If there are issues, again, I involve everyone so that the best possible solutions are found. And lastly, everyone has to take responsibility for their actions.”
Simphiwe Mncube, founder and managing director at Baleka Motors says that having noticed the male-dominated nature of the industry, she saw the gap for a woman’s touch. With help from her partner, she has successfully built both the Baleka team and the brand itself. Simphiwe’s approach to leadership is simple: since this is a matter where influence is all-important, it is critical to be clear on your vision and share it with your team. Work-life balance, on the other hand, is less cut and dried, especially when you are trying to grow a business. Simphiwe remains inspired to work at this because she understands that in order to be happy professionally, she has to be healthy on a personal level. Accepting this makes it easier to schedule downtime. Her advice to other women eyeing the industry? “It can be done! It’s all about attitude and commitment. Be faithful to your dreams by showing up every day.” Her own motivation to keep showing up is driven partly by discipline, and partly by her acknowledgement that her dream is bigger than her. “We all have an audience, and someone out there is holding on because I am not giving up.”
Bridget Finn is HR and finance manager at Finn Auto Repairs and Diagnostics, a position she came to after filling many roles at different companies. “No matter what job I had, there was always some learning I could take away and use in future positions. This has helped me grow in my skills,” she reflects. When her husband opened his business 12 years ago, she realized that the time had come to put those skills into play. Bridget says that working in a family-owned business can be tough, as you tend to take work home with you. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries: there is a time for discussing work matters, and a time for recreation and socialising. And, when things get tough, you need to keep going. “We are so much stronger than we realise. Giving up will never get us anywhere, so get up, brush yourself off and keep going.” This advice is especially important for young women intent on succeeding in business. “Nothing should define or limit you. Women are capable of doing anything they put their minds to, so don’t make room for other people’s opinions, traditions or history. Being a woman is a strength, not a weakness – but don’t ever confuse this for arrogance. Make yourself proud.”
Both Dineo and Keneuwe Glamane grew up with a dream of opening their own business. But they had no idea what it would be. As fate had it – they got a break to enter the motor industry and today they own, Womech (Women in Mechanics), an independent aftermarket workshop in Secunda which they opened in 2017.
Their journey started when they received a bursary to do Auto Electrical after completing their N6 of electrical engineering. A year later, while completing the auto electrical course, they got an apprenticeship at Value Logistics and were offered the positions of auto electrician and diesel mechanic. This was where the idea of opening a workshop in the future really started. They took the opportunity to do the apprenticeship and the rest is history. Dineo is currently the CFO and HR manager of Womech while Keneuwe is the CEO as well as the Operations Manager. Their advice to young women out there is not to limit themselves and to take whatever opportunities come their way.
For Carol Radloff, general manager at Ian’s Auto Clinic, the secret to success lies in pushing hard and being thankful for your blessings. Carol says that she earned her position through faith, hard work, patience, perseverance and support from her family; a journey that has taught her to use her faith and try, always, to be the best version of herself. She is also a strong believer in expressing gratitude for all the positive gifts in her life. Her motto? “You have been blessed with a new day. Use it to make a difference in your life.”
The last word goes to Teresa Spenser-Higgs. Teresa’s name will be familiar to all members of MIWA Border, which she chairs. She is also a MIWA NEC member, and an EXCO member of Eastern Cape RMI. And, if that’s not enough to keep her busy, she is co-owner and office manager of D&T Servicing – Autocare and Diagnostics. Given her busy schedule, balance is a big deal for Spenser-Higgs, which is why she relishes the time spent at her home far from the city centre, surrounded by her five dogs and four cats. She also enjoys painting during her downtime.
Passionate as she is about her job, she enjoys the challenges it presents and makes a point of seizing every opportunity to learn more about the industry. She is especially focused on training young technicians, as this is critical for the longevity of the industry, she maintains: “My husband was injured in a car accident and was told that he would never be able to become a technician, because of his injuries. If someone had not given him the opportunity, or taken the risk of signing him on, we wouldn’t be working in this industry. That’s why I feel it’s our duty to pay it forward and create opportunities for others.” Teresa brushes aside any notion that, as a woman in the industry, she may face more challenges. “I know women always say we want equality, but I don’t mind being the fairer sex in this industry. I know I bring a different dynamic to the table. I say embrace our differences and our strengths – this is what makes us stand out.”
It’s said that he who plants a tree, plants hope. If that’s true, then hope is springing up all around D&T Servicing, where David and Teresa Spenser-Higgs spent their 67 minutes in honour of Mandela Day planting trees to replace those cut down by the municipality a few years ago. “The area was starting to look like a desert, so we decided to do something about it!” says Teresa.
A number of tyre warehouses, tyre dealers and spares dealers were affected by the looting that took part in South Africa earlier this month, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. As a result, there are many people in possession of these goods, approaching tyre dealers and workshops to fit their ransacked parts. The Tyre Equipment Parts Association (TEPA) has put out an urgent appeal, asking workshop owners to protect the industry by refusing to fit any tyres or spare parts that have been supplied by customers, unless they are able to produce a valid sales receipt. This is especially important, as one of MIWA’s chief goals is to develop an industry culture of compliance. Members therefore must be seen to take a stand against the purchase of illegal goods. Instead, they should report such incidents to the local branch of the SAPS, and follow any instructions from the police that follow. TEPA’s Hedley Judd warns that the looting is likely to lead to a short-term shortage of stock.
More than one year into lockdown, we’re still doing a lot less driving. As a result, you may receive more enquiries from clients who need to jumpstart their cars – but, if they’re not following the right procedure, they can cause serious damage to their electrical systems and computer.
Here’s some advice to ensure cars remain fully functioning:
- Get the basics right. Flat car batteries can be prevented by starting the car and driving forwards and backwards, just a little, every day. It is also important to keep the battery clean and free from corrosion – any corrosion around the battery terminals must be cleaned off with water and bicarbonate of soda, or sandpaper. Drivers should be familiar with the directions in the owner’s manual in case there are special instructions.
- Now, set up the car. First, move the donor car as close to the ‘dead’ car as possible, without touching. Make sure that in both cars, the handbrakes are up and the gear selector is in neutral. Both ignitions must be off.
- Identify the positive and negative terminals of both car batteries. This should be relatively easy, as terminals are usually marked. Now, connect the positive end of the jumper cable to the positive terminal on the dead car’s battery, and the other positive end of the jumper cable to the donor car’s battery. Do the same with one negative end of the jumper cable, but attach the other negative end to a shiny nut or bolt on the engine of the flat battery. It is important to connect the dead battery last, or the battery may explode.
- Wait a few minutes before starting the flat vehicle. The vehicles should remain connected even after the battery has been successfully jumpstarted, and the driver should wait a further minute or two before switching on the headlights and interior fan to stabilise the electrical system.
- Remove the cables in the reverse order – negative cables first, then positive cables.
This month, HaynesPro WorkshopData hosted an online webinar to help MIWA members increase their knowledge around reliable repair, maintenance and electrical information.
Peter Woods guided attendees through critical aspects related to these issues as he spoke about maintenance manuals, repair schedules, VESA™ guided diagnostics and Smartcase™.
MIWA members who registered for the course, but were unable to attend were sent a recording.
It hasn’t been an easy month for South Africans. Life would have been difficult enough if we were dealing with nothing more than a cold front which, in some parts of the country, set records for cold temperatures – but we were also trying to keep afloat in the midst of news of increased hospitalisations and death thanks to the pandemic’s third wave, and the isolation that accompanies lockdown. And then came the video footage of looting in our major centres, and the knowledge that even though peace has been restored, our economy is going to be absorbing the knocks for some time to come.
It’s difficult to remain cheerful in such circumstances – and, in fact, maybe it’s too much to ask that you greet each new day with a smile. But it is possible to keep yourself from sinking into negativity and depression. Here’s how.
Allow yourself to feel sad
What’s happening around us is sad. Most of us have never lived through circumstances like this, and hopefully, we never will again. In the meantime, though, we have to try to keep pushing – but if you keep giving yourself pep talks about how other generations have been through worse, you may actually be making things harder for yourself. Take some time to admit that you feel uncertain and vulnerable.
Try to build your emotional resilience
Allowing yourself a little time to feel sad doesn’t mean giving yourself permission to sink into anxiety. Counter the negative by trying to find a solution: if you’re anxious because of the unrest that took place this month, find a way to contribute to your community. If you’re scared of contracting Covid while infection rates are soaring, get vaccinated and continue to practice social distancing. Taking action will make you feel more empowered and less like a victim of circumstance.
Connect with others.
Obviously, this isn’t easy when you’re in the middle of a pandemic, but phoning your friends and family members will remind you that you are not going through this alone.
MIWA were again educating consumers on important issues this month. Remember we are always keen to publish topic regional news so please if there is anything newsworthy and current in your region please notify us immediately. We are currently working on a story on SAPS vehicles which are left unrepaired and the challenges and bottlenecks in the system.
Here are a few articles that were published:
Automotive Business Review
Jumpstart your vehicle the right way
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