Brian Joss – With SME development being placed in the centre of government policy in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), the South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA), part of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), is calling for a thorough overhaul of its industry to facilitate small businesses growth, particularly that of emerging black-owned businesses.
It may require a modest sacrifice by company shareholders, says Sambra. In his own SOTI (State of the Industry) speech to the industry at the 2018 SAMBRA Awards, national director, Richard Green, noted that SMEs in the motor body repairs industry were currently “in a precarious position”, and urged the entire industry supply chain (including short-term insurers and Original Equipment Manufacturers) to break the mould of its business model by adopting a six-point plan: set fair ethical standards for entry, including compliance to a universally accepted accreditation system, while resolving to eradicate Insurer panels of any sort; while maintaining fair entry standards, open all manufacturer approval programmes to any qualifying business; honour client choice within a communication environment that ensures all clients are well-informed, especially regarding the pitfalls of poor service provider choice; do everything in its power to eradicate unnecessary or excessive costs, be they capital or administrative; make prompt payment of small business’ invoices a key priority and remove any barriers to achieving that goal, and, ensure all skills development initiatives operate from entities that do not distribute funds acquired but are constructed to reinvest every cent, other than operational costs coverage, back into developing skills and enabling those newly skilled individuals to gain entry into the market.
“South African business and our sector particularly, I believe, is positioned to either fail dismally or succeed fabulously! The latter is only possible if we courageously emerge from our respective cocoons,” said Mr Green. He noted that Sambra would, in turn, work tirelessly with its members to substantially increase their business efficiencies so that the service offering contributed to the removal of any unnecessary costs, to excellent service and to repair quality levels.
“Owning and operating small businesses is tough at the best of times, and the failure rate high, but that applies to black or white owners – neither are better or worse than the other. To ignore the importance of small business growth in South Africa is folly,” he said. “Only through maintaining and developing those we have and establishing many more will South Africans prosper.”
“To achieve the growth that will deliver true economic growth in this sector, we all need to adopt an unselfish collaborative and transparent approach.” Mr Green issued a call to action to ‘big business’ to convince their shareholders that they ought to accept, for a period, lower share value growth due to the tremendous expenditure required to grow the pyramid base of small business service providers in South Africa and to employ many thousands of black South Africans.
“Without this,” said Mr Green, “in my opinion, the future is very bleak.”
CAPTION: Clarion call: Richard Green, national director of the South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA).