IBIS Africa

Fix Auto held a full launch event for the introduction of the world’s largest collision repair franchise recently in Gauteng where Malcolm Rajah, CEO, introduced the first stage of the Fix trip innovation plan.

First up, Malcolm thanked the many insurers, body shop owners and suppliers for their attendance. Malcolm, who has in his own words a corporate background, spent many years in franchising and working for major insurance houses. “We want the Fix Trip plan to play out with the full promise of integrity on the system’s web based management operating system.”

The Fix Auto World local company concern meets broad based empowerment levels and the large global presence of Fix Auto features some leading edge networking ability in accident repair franchising. Outlets operate franchises with full factory approval equipment levels and along with this will be a Fix@Work web based platform which features insurer access to franchisee’s repair processes as well as the status of repairs and customer feed back. Using this web based platform in conjunction with insurance partner’s full disclosure on parts purchasing prices, it ensures complete transparency on each and every repair inside the value chain of quantification and payment of parts.

Fix Auto have also implemented a simplified claims process with Fix Auto outsourced partners coupled with digital assessing which operates with the Abuntex platform. The final work carries a full lifetime warranty on repairs. With the recent addition of national brand manager, Suren Ramsammy to the team who has over 15 years experience in workshop designs, work flows and workshop optimisation in creating maximum performance, Fix Auto South Africa are in good shape to develop the franchise network for the future.

David Lingham, head of business at Fix Auto World was the next keynote speaker telling tales of insurance companies being under pressure on their motor book risk cover, as well as the significant profit pressure being endured by collision repair concerns across the world. “It is a matter of world introspection right now. It is clear that the customer wants more and it is a market where trust is a hard currency to earn,” said Lingham.

As a result of all these factors, body shop owners in such markets as Holland, Australia, along with Canada, are moving to a franchise model to move forward into the future with security. “A plus point,” says Lingham, “is that motor makers are once again becoming interested in the repair market globally. Right now customers are thriving on brands and Fix Auto, which has enjoyed phenomenal growth in the last 25 years, is a sort of “fresh face in the market” and a good choice for independent operators. By not going the franchise route, independents had few options to exercise other than to either sell, carry on, or close their doors as competition continues to hit them from all sides.”

Lingham then spoke about their recent successes in China, Turkey and Australia. Fix Auto is currently backed by CdpQ pension fund of Quebec with a 25% shareholding and they are fuelling the driving force behind the Fix Auto Global expansion.

Hennie Nortje then presented the insurers viewpoint from Old Mutual Insure and others in the audience. He said business was becoming tougher by the day as the direct market had already wrenched over 50% of the motor insurance away from the traditional broker business model. He lamented the fact that both insurers and collision repairers had missed many opportunities to work closer together. Now with the Fix Auto model, a new way forward could be on the horizon away from the old worn out era body shop in some cases still paying brokers under the table to receive work.

BEE is having an impact for previously disadvantaged repair operators. From an insurance perspective, the chance to get a standard repair model on costs was very interesting. Insurers will always keep a close watch on their direction of spend. Currently nothing about chasing volume is transparent. All these platinum panels are sort of doomed to failure in the long run. Our current cost per claim is in the region of, on average, some R22 000 – R23 000 and the new push for optimised parts purchases has another effect on company’s liquidity in day-to-day operations.

Lasen Moodley from Audatex showed the full technical crunch for the future. With many trends in automation changing the way we drive as digital cars become part of the DNA of automotive refinishing, Audatex are introducing new machine based methods of repairs and cybersecurity with important new data development methodology.

Anesh Govender, Old Mutual Insure, said a great deal of the haggling on procurement costs is set to disappear as we need to prepare to find a way forward with meaningful long term relationships. We also need to take a good look at just how inflation driven costs will affect standard cost of models in play.

Trevor Ward from Mazda Southern Africa, introduced his “Human Centric” talk on the openness and transparency of the new-look Mazda repair model. The approval programme will now supersede the agreements that went before it. Insurers have been given their own panel lists from Mazda of approved and recommended facilities. “At Mazda we need to protect our extended warranties and with the help of trade bodies like the CRA, along with others, we have signed a code of conduct that embraces all aspects of the whole consumer protection programme of legislation. This will create a much more level playing field for all repair concerns.”

Mazda have also moved to increase their holding of original parts to record levels and industry first pull rates of over 98%. “When I look at some of our parts, they are 10 years old but we still hold them in stock for Mazda repairs. Our new business model will give the company the respect it deserves for it’s a process of consultation between all the role players in the market,” said Ward.

Shawn van Eeden from 3M concluded the day’s proceedings with a talk on a new, fresh approach in the way of reinvented abrasive technologies.

Franchises were then back in view after a questions and answer session between David Lingham and repair futurist, Andrew Marsh. You can get more details of the full Fix Auto South Africa franchise by calling +27 86 99 0506 or visit www.fixauto.com