BMW April 2022

We often joke and refer to the collision repair industry as the “dark side” as it’s not really the place vehicle owners would like to be in – getting their car repaired after an accident. There is also a kindred spirit on this side of the fence, the companies that help in resolving the nightmare of body shops – the abandoned vehicle that is taking up precious space and probably already owes you money.

Salvage Genie is a woman-owned company who specialise in helping with abandoned vehicles. Women have a natural eye for detail intrinsically engraved into their DNA as well as a lot of empathy to help in such delicate matters.  Both Kerry Love and Erinn Rowell, the owners of Salvage Genie, have a clear passion for what they do. It’s evident that each vehicle is given the individual attention it deserves while owners are tracked down.

The key word at Salvage Genie is “relationship”. Their tight knit team of 10, work well at making this five-year old company continue on its path of success. They have great working relationships with their outsourced towing and storage facilities, as well as the police. “Thankfully we don’t have many stolen vehicles or anything untoward, but it’s very important to us to have the best people to call on in our circle,” said Erinn.

On average, it takes this process about six weeks from start to finish, so it’s not a quick fix. Once Salvage Genie have the vehicle’s VIN number, a track and trace process begins. The VIN number is used to get details of the owner and every avenue is traversed to try and find them.

At the same time the team will also see if the car has an “S” (stolen) mark against it or possibly a clone. An offer is made to the body shop once the all-clear is achieved at this interval and the abandoned vehicle is then removed from their premises and taken to Salvage Genie’s storage facilities.

The legal side of things now gets underway and once the high court has issued that the car is now a code 4, the vehicle is sold as salvage. It is law in SA that a code 4 vehicle can only be sold as salvage as the car may not be sold as a second-hand vehicle under this categorisation.

By law, after 90 days the vehicle is deemed abandoned, but the Salvage Genie team still give an extra 30 days grace period to try to give the owner the benefit of the doubt and extra time to try and get their vehicle back. “Covid has had a negative impact on many small businesses,” said Kerry, “and we are seeing an increase in the numbers of vehicles we are looking at as people are desperate to find money.”

Each claim is worked out per individual vehicle. Firstly, they have to look at what the vehicle owes the shop in regards to repairs or money put into the vehicle. Secondly, they have to take into consideration that each vehicle has its own legal process, admin, storage costs and towing fees involved. Thirdly, they have to take into account what the vehicle’s salvage value is so that they don’t run at a loss a few months down the line once the legal process is done. From there they derive an offer for their clients.

What does the future hold for Salvage Genie? Their own large facility with lots of storage onsite is what they have their hearts set on. As each team member is passionate about what they do and adhere to a value of integrity, this goal will see them carry on being successful and achieving this goal sooner rather than later.