Rolling power cuts across the country have left many small businesses vulnerable and the motor body repair sector is no exception.
Charles Canning, Chairman of the South African Motor Body Repair Sector (SAMBRA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) says the outages have adversely affected many of his smaller members who do not have sufficient resources for large backup generators.
He says the outages come on the back of the Covid pandemic and supply chain challenges from the acute shortage of parts. Most importers of motor vehicles into this country are facing the same supply problems.
“Not only is the chain out of Europe challenged since Russia attacked the Ukraine,
as that is where our semiconductor, wiring units and electronic goods predominantly come from, but also from the large increases in freight costs. We know that out of the East for example certain car manufacturers are even battling to find the steel to make the containers to put the parts in to get them to South Africa.”
The knock-on effect of that is longer repair times to accommodate both the backlog and the delays from the regular power outages. “Not only does this negatively impact customers,” says Canning, “but it also impacts MBR profitability with repair vehicles taking up much needed real estate and slowing down the intake of new business. It also negatively impacts MBR ratings with the big insurers who measure turnaround times for customer repairs.”
“Motor body repairers are up against the wall at the moment and unfortunately
this could result in labour cuts and short time during 2023 if many of these smaller businesses are to survive,” says Canning.
He says SAMBRA will continue to liaise closely with insurers and OEMs across all vehicle brands on the status of certain critical parts and work with its smaller members to find solutions to the rolling blackouts. “We are also working hard to manage customer expectations, and wherever possible, we are advising motorists that our members will repair rather than replace the part in question,” says Canning.
He notes that fortunately, developments in repair technology have advanced substantially over the recent years, significantly improving the ability of MBRs to repair metal and plastic panels on a motor vehicle.