At the end of 2019, Richard Green, national director of the South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), was lobbying hard for the inclusion of qualifying accredited MBR businesses onto OEM approval programmes as well as insurer supplier listings.
Fast forward two years, and that situation has dramatically improved with all but one of the larger OEMs having opened up their panels to accredited motor body repairers.
Green says this is finally providing a much fairer, unrestricted and competitive business environment in the MBR sector which is not only helping to grow small businesses but also stimulating much needed employment in the sector.
SAMBRA executives first met with most of the South African-based vehicle manufacturers and importers (OEM) in late 2019 to discuss and debate the best way forward in terms of their approval programs. “One of SAMBRAs key strategic objectives at the time was to ensure within the quickest possible time frame that OEMs opened their approval programs to any SAMBRA member who was willing to invest in their business and was in a position to meet the OEMs application criteria,” he explains.
Prior to that meeting, with the exclusion of VWSA, who have always had an open programme, there were still many OEMs that still had a policy that restricted the number of OEM approvals available in any region, irrespective if you were able to meet their standards. Green says without the necessary approvals in place, SAMBRA members were almost never allocated in-warranty work from Insurers for repairs to vehicles from those OEMs.
At that meeting another large OEM announced that they had decided to open their programme and would be working toward enabling applications from qualified applicants. Since that meeting many other OEMs have followed suit with the exception of one.
Green says this is really positive, particularly in light of the coming into effect of the Competition Commission’s Guidelines on 1 July 2021.
“There are still a number of challenges for SAMBRA to attend to before we can say that we have successfully broken down the barriers that prevent members from competing fairly with one another. We will however remain focused on those until all restrictions have been removed that hinder an open and fair industry,” concludes Green.