CRYSTAL BALL VIEW IS MOST LIKELY NEEDED FOR THIS YEAR

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February 1, 2023

CRYSTAL BALL VIEW IS MOST LIKELY NEEDED FOR THIS YEAR

As usual the state of play in the collision repair trade is like the curate’s egg, only good in parts as we stare back at the head winds that showed progress to a type of pristine outlook. Firstly, the slow progression to the road of a normal business cycle post-Covid proved to be very slow and in fact many current members are on record to say that volumes took most of the year to return to close to their normal trade levels of activity.

What of course hampered this return to our activities despite South Africa being open for business campaign was in no small way contributed to by the fuel prices almost doubling in one year. This put millions of our road users into a new way of travelling, even President Ramaphosa has put on record that the nation has had a catastrophic time. The previous July unrest, still unresolved, over 200 days of load shedding in 2022 and every day so far in 2023 which is record breaking with our electricity problems caused by the Prince of Darkness, Eskom.  Add to this unhealthy levels of poor stock availability on parts and products used in body repair. There are untold stories of many damaged vehicles unable to find, as an example, replacement headlamps as a basic across many top vehicle brands.

So, our outlook will remain one of a rocky road ahead as South Africa has to contend with stagflation where small business will face not only high inflationary costs but value chain disruption. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise that this trade operates like all our other free enterprise concerns in a multi-faceted economy which is currently going nowhere. With government service delivery levels are at an all-time low and the current government simply or seemingly unable to take on endemic corruption that has caused this sorry state-of-affairs to persist.

An upside to all this is largely that we simply have to endure all the headwinds that are out there to maintain a grip on long term survival. It is imperative to maximise interventions which we are in full control of and this includes customer expectation.

It’s on this side that I want to congratulate the CRA membership on achieving levels of approximately 50% of the Award winners of the Lightstone quality survey on body shop CSI results from a small industry representation.

This is further supported by the fact that the CRA members currently account for completed repair on over 40% of the national claims authorised by Insurers. 

We once again had an amazing response to the CRA conference held at Automechanika and confirmed our commitment to furthering best practice in this industry niche. All this is also backed up by a record of the lowest membership dispute resolution cases, we have ever needed to see being resolved by ourselves and the membership which I think points us on the road ahead in this year in good stead.

Additional benefit for membership continues from CRA, where we have a representative portion of our members now enrolled in the Fender Bender Finance programme. This initiative is used by uninsured drivers of which there are record numbers, over 70% out there on the road and allow access to funding for quality repair to uninsured accident damage and can also assist in funding large excess options accepted to reduce premiums.

Our members also benefit from the availability of technical repair information from Andrew Marsh – our world class repair methods partner – which provides OEM collision approved repair methods for in excess of 500 popular vehicles. This is a great back stop for our repairers to restore damaged vehicles via safety through standards to OEM certified levels.

Going forward in this year ahead, it must be quite clear in business terms with Eskom’s rampant dramas in view that this may be another year of scaling back, controlling costs and getting repairs right first time. This will be set against the slings and arrows that are out there on supply chain issues and labour problems.

Business perception and trends are going to take on new challenges this year and out-of-the-box thinking in terms of adding features to your business must be given priority. However, be mindful of major change requiring investment and training at huge cost versus benefit of providing lifesaving revenue streams.

General Jan Smuts was asked in 1948 “how are things in South Africa right now?” His response is still valid for he said, “Well they are not as bad as they could be and not as good as they should be,” and that is where we are close to seventy years later. The nation is still floundering along, caught up in a burst of free-for-all corruption which continues to take the nation almost nowhere.

By Steve Kessel

Classic COrner & REStoration

Classic cars are the next big investment. As such the sector of restoration is growing in the realms of collision repair and it’s definitely the “sexier” side of the business. There are many opportunities to create exotic special-builds as well as keep timeless beauties in mint condition.

DRIVEN

With three motoring-journalists on our staff, we are able to test drive and review some of the latest models available on our roads as well as attend the latest model launches.

TRAINING

Knowledge is power. Training is key to up-skilling repairers as models launch onto our local roads faster than we can count. We also need to grow new talent into the collision repair industry. Courses are available to help and organisations are in place to train - this information is in Industry Index.

classic corner & resoration

Classic cars are the next big investment. As such the sector of restoration is growing in the realms of collision repair and it’s definitely the “sexier” side of the business. There are many opportunities to create exotic special-builds as well as keep timeless beauties in mint condition.

Driven

With three motoring-journalists on our staff, we are able to test drive and review some of the latest models available on our roads as well as attend the latest model launches.

TRAINING

Knowledge is power. Training is key to up-skilling repairers as models launch onto our local roads faster than we can count. We also need to grow new talent into the collision repair industry. Courses are available to help and organisations are in place to train - this information is in Industry Index.

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