As consumers are slowly being exposed to exciting new options in the motoring sphere, car repair workshops are evaluating where these changes will lead them. “There is much debate in the sector around whether some expertise will become obsolete with the introduction of electric vehicles, hybrids and autonomous vehicles. There is no certainty at this point as to where things will be in the next five or 10 years in South Africa but being a workshop that is agile, embraces change and remains customer centric is what will win in the end,” says Pieter Niemand, Director of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
So how are workshops tackling these likely changes? Niemand says embracing digital support with cloud-based solutions will mean accessibility from anywhere. “We are investing in digitalisation. It needs to be seen as a benefit and not a threat. We are also looking at ways to re-invent our business models to remain relevant to the changing business environment and consumer trends. We need to ensure our businesses are correctly positioned now to be in the right place tomorrow,” he says.
Along with strategy, Niemand says investing in future equipment and technology which is vital for sustainability is a given. “Technical preparedness means training and upskilling staff to ensure a professional and well-qualified staffing resource.”
“While we are preparing for these tech changes ahead it is critical not to forget that essentially our industry is driven by people wanting, owning and maintaining vehicles. The customer has to the centre of all we do,” says Niemand.
“Basic business best practices of effective customer retention and customer loyalty will remain key in the workshop of the future. How do we aim to do this? Through simple service experiences and taking the time to connect with consumers. We believe it is important to make customers feel part of their vehicle service whether this is through face-to-face engagements or through web and on-line service bookings. People still want to converse with people and we believe this will remain so especially when it comes to an investment as big as a car.”
“So, while the industry is gearing up for change, we want to assure our current customers, and future customers, that their need for quality service and an exceptional customer experience remains our objective,” concludes Niemand.