Keep a lookout…

Automobil-magazines

We’re proud to let you know that MIWA will be featured as the Association of the Month in the March edition of Automobil, which is also featuring a Behind the Scenes interview with our national director, Pieter Niemand. We trust you’ll find the coverage most informative, as we have used the feature as a platform to delve into issues we believe are highly relevant to the industry right now, including how apprenticeships are helping to address South Africa’s skills shortage, the various initiatives undertaken during the past year to improve standards among MIWA members, and what the workshop of the future looks like.

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RMI contributing to Presidential Employment Stimulus programmes

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In his most recent State of the Nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa called for the private sector to help make TVET (technical and vocational education and training) graduates more employable by providing workplace exposure.

Teamwork! Teachers from BCC East London and Lovedale in Qonce (formerly King William’s Town).

The aftermarket sector is well suited to doing this – so long as educational institutions also show support for the initiative. With this in mind, the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) is working to foster collaboration between TVET institutions and the private sector. For example, with 22 000 registered employers in the automotive aftermarket sector, there are ample opportunities for small employers to take on graduates for work experience. This would certainly help move government towards its target of 10 000 internships; however, for this to happen, restrictive issues such as high regulatory compliance costs need to be reviewed.

Given the rapid growth and technological innovation taking place within the industry at present, there are significant opportunities for youth employment; and the accent on training and development within the industries means that it should be easy for youngsters to take advantage of these opportunities once potential obstacles have been removed.

VW a leading light as the industry adopts Right2Repair

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VW stands as a shining example of how Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) can work together with players in the automotive aftermarket to create a truly competitive market.

This is important as, without the full support of OEMs, the Guidelines for Competition in the Automotive Aftermarket are likely to fall flat. This means going beyond implementing the guidelines merely for the sake of compliance – which, sadly, has been the case with most OEMs. 

In contrast, VW has been transparent in its discussions of how it plans to work within the framework created by the guidelines. For example, the company recently supplied full details of how Independent Service Providers (ISPs) can access its technical maintenance and repair information. Moreover, the information was packaged in a manner that makes it possible for ISPs to operate with flexibility, tailoring access according to the needs of customers from an hourly or annual basis. This is crucial for ISPs working across a range of different brands, all of which have different needs.

VW’s approach has been lauded by Right2Repair, with the organisation’s Kate Elliott noting that it is enabling it to fulfil its aims of creating greater consumer choice.

Spotlight on Right2Repair Tier One sponsor: TEMOT International

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Managing Director Fotios Katsardis
President & CEO.

Global network for independent spare parts distributors
As a global strategic alliance, TEMOT International has been operating in the independent automotive and commercial vehicle spare parts market since 1994. Set up by five parts wholesalers in Germany, today the organisation comprises 99 shareholders operating in the spare parts market in over 100 countries worldwide. 

TEMOT International shareholders are among the leading companies in the sector, employ more than 32 000 people, and run a network of about 12 000 repair workshops. The shareholders operate on the first tier of trade and provide their customers with a wide range of products, services, systems and concepts. Their core business is trading in spare parts, accessories, workshop equipment, tools, machine parts, automotive paints, chemicals, and replacement body parts. Irrespective of their distribution model they pursue a common goal: cutting costs and streamlining for sustainable, profitable growth. The external revenue of TEMOT International shareholders was in excess of 14,5 billion USD in 2021. 

TEMOT International helps its shareholders determine, procure and manage car spare parts, automotive accessories and tools on an international level by organising purchasing, optimising the supply chain, collaborating in the further development of IT programs, and co-development of marketing programs and strategies.

TEMOT International’s vision is to operate as a strategic platform and forward-looking partner in the automotive and commercial vehicle spares market, creating added value for its own network, and thus contributing to the continuous development of the sector. Its mission is to operate as a network that combines leading trading companies, strengthens their market position and represents the shareholders’ interests. In particular, this includes knowledge management, advising on strategic decisions, use of synergies, internationalisation and risk-minimising to improve the shareholders’ competitiveness. 

TEMOT International is invariably its shareholders’ trustee, acting as an interface and catalyst between shareholders, suppliers, third-party providers and service providers. TEMOT International assists and advises its shareholders on their international purchasing activities through long-term cooperation and partnership agreements with leading industry suppliers. Shareholders are autonomous in their local purchasing decisions, but select from a pool of jointly defined, qualified preferred global supplier portfolios of TEMOT International.

Against the odds

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It takes an enormous amount of courage to start a business during the Covid-19 pandemic – but that’s precisely what self-proclaimed petrol heads Graeme Reid and Paul De Vantier did. And they couldn’t be happier!

March sees their audacious venture, Pop’s Auto Shop, celebrating its first anniversary. During its first year of operations, the Walmer, PE-based workshop has become a cornerstone of its community employing six people – thanks to the fact that its offering goes well beyond repair and maintenance services. For example, Pop’s Auto Shop is home to Auto Coffee and Classics Day, as well as one of the starting points for the local MG Car Club runs. Graeme explains that these additions are a logical extension of the brand identity.

Graeme says that he and Paul had both been involved in the motor industry for many years, but it was when the pandemic first hit that they decided to make a departure from their area of expertise –motor industry research and consulting – to follow their passion. “The introduction of Right2Repair has opened up new opportunities, and we expect big shifts in the marketplace. The car owner is no longer held hostage to servicing at OEM dealerships and is free to choose where they want to have their vehicle repaired and serviced. Offering convenience, superior service experience, and better value is the way to go. Pop’s Auto Shops will redefine the paradigm of an auto workshop.”

Their instincts were spot-on: Pop’s Auto Shop’s team has become known for their outstanding service and commitment to customer service, while the workshop itself offers an experience quite unlike anything else: think free Wi-Fi, great music, and coffee served up in a spacious, comfortable customer area. 

Graeme reveals that the team will be toasting their first year in business with a small social function to thank associates, suppliers and customers, while a birthday month promotion will be offered throughout March.

Paul and Graeme believe that the Pop’s Auto Shop business model’s success can easily be emulated by other forward-thinking entrepreneurs: “The industry is ripe for innovation,” they say. “The Pops Auto Shop in Walmer is our pilot shop and, after a year of fine-tuning, phase 2 will be the rollout of additional branches or franchise operations.”  Those who wish to take the plunge into business would do well to keep a careful eye on cash flow management and cultivate a deep appreciation of the customer experience. Graeme advises: “You need to be able to redefine requirements and expectations, and you need the agility to keep pace with our changing world. You also need to keep measuring and testing your stated strategic and operational goals.”

Worrying about the warranty?

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Few purchases are as exciting as that of a new car. Similarly, few are as expensive – which is why buyers need to approach their transactions with tremendous caution, especially when it comes to checking the warranty.

It’s heartbreaking to find out that the car that looked so good and performed so well on the dealer’s floor is not in the pristine condition you thought. But more than disappointing, this mistake can be both costly and dangerous. So, how can it be avoided?

  • Before purchasing, the car should undergo a safety inspection or multi-point check at an independent test centre or accredited workshop. This ensures that existing defects will be identified, especially ones that would not be noticed with a naked eye.
  • Check the warranty. What does it cover? In terms of the Consumer Protection Act, all cars (whether new or used) must have a six-month implied warranty of quality, which covers most defects, failures or hazards that haven’t been caused by the user – but it is also possible to purchase an extended warranty, which is a form of insurance. It’s a good idea to ask a finance and insurance specialist what is covered by this extended warranty.
  • Read the fine print. This prevents situations where the customer finds themselves out of pocket for a defect – such as regular wear and tear – they mistakenly thought would be covered by their warranty. It’s vital to understand all the exclusions on a warranty.

All you need is love

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How was your Valentine’s Day? Sure, you might think it’s a cheesy excuse for shops to make more money out of us – but, actually, there’s probably never been a time when we had as strong a need to celebrate love. 

And not only romantic love. Being cut off from friends and family for the greater part of two years has shown many of us just how much those relationships mean to us. 

What you might not have known, though, is that social connection is crucial to both mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that the brain experiences negative social interactions (like rejection) in much the same way as it experiences physical pain. Apart from that, our social connections help to boost our resilience, making it easier for us to weather trying times, improve self-esteem, give us extra confidence, and even lower stress. They can even make us live longer. 

If you feel your connections have been lacking lately, here are a few ways to give them a boost:

  • Work on your relationship with yourself. You won’t have much to offer a friend if you’re battling to sort out your own issues.
  • Say ‘yes’. After months of lockdown, many of us have become accustomed to the couch – but getting out will give you more opportunities to build and cement friendships.
  • Ditch the screen. Yes, it’s easy to make a quick connection with a WhatsApp – just to let someone know you’re thinking of them. The problem with this is that it allows you to keep in touch without actually giving very much of yourself. Next time, instead of sending a message, send an invitation for coffee – then sit down and enjoy a real life conversation.
  • Remember the small moments. Birthdays, doctor’s appointments, career milestones –whether they’re celebrated or dreaded, each of these occasions is far more memorable if shared. Take the time to message someone when you know there is something big going on in their life – they’ll feel honoured. 

From the Director’s Desk, February 2022

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It’s always exciting to see MIWA featured in Automobil magazine. This year, the feature included a profile on me – which meant that I got to answer some rather thought-provoking questions.

For instance, I had a chance to reflect on what I’m most proud of within MIWA. The answer was an easy one: I highly value the New Thinking Model implemented by RMI in 2017, which has made it possible for us to assist, support and educate our members using a national footprint of trained MIWA associations. I’m also proud of the digitalisation process that we’re currently rolling out, which will help to make our members’ workshops ‘future ready’.

Initiatives like this make it easy for me to guess where MIWA will be in five years’ time (another question I was asked): We will be positioned strongly as an innovative, sustainable, and fast-thinking association leading by example in the independent aftermarket sector of the retail motor industry; an association setting global standards with local needs and requirements in mind.

Admittedly, sometimes it seems as though goals like this are beyond us – especially when we are dealing with change, as we have done for the past two years. But the answer here is a simple one, which I have borrowed from Jim Rohn: Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better from change.

Let’s embrace the changes we have already encountered, ready ourselves for more, and keep chasing our dreams.

Pieter Niemand,
MIWA National Director