Motoring News

Keep it in the family: The benefits of sticking with your franchise

ONCE-UPON-A-TIME the normal deal for buying a brand-new car included a service/maintenance plan for a number of years that specified franchised parts as part of that plan – as per the sales agreement. Automotive PR expert ILANA SALANT refreshes your knowledge of the new system...

EXPERTS ONLY! Using a franchised dealer or service operation means the very best of experienced technicians to maintain your vehicle. Image: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – After more than three years in the works, and incorporating input from a variety of industry stakeholders the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (Nada), the final Guidelines for Competition in the South African Automotive Aftermarket came into effect on July 2021.

It gives South African car owners a wider choice for how they service/maintain their vehicle(s), with options to either purchase plans offered by OEM franchise dealers, to buy independent aftermarket plans, or choose not to buy any plan at all. They can also use independent service providers (ISPs) for maintenance and repairs.

While car owner now have more freedom, it’s important to understand this freedom comes with increased responsibility. Any damages to a vehicle as a result of work performed or non-original spare parts fitted by ISPs could result in either parts of, or entire, vehicle warranties being voided.

Nada, representing more than 1350 franchise dealers across South Africa, has compiled a list of five benefits that come with OEM-supported service and maintenance plans so owners can make informed choices for vehicle maintenance.

BUDGET MANAGEMENT

AN OEM-backed plan will cover the cost of upcoming maintenance and services up front. There’s no need to plan for the expense of scheduled work which, for those who don’t diligently manage their service books, can spring up unexpectedly and hit wallets hard.

HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION

AN OEM PLAN incorporated into the vehicle price protects against future potential parts price increases. Service and maintenance plan pricing is calculated using parts prices at the time of sale, where motorists who pay separately for periodic service and maintenance work are unprotected against exchange-rate fluctuations and inflation.

Parts pricing can increase drastically year-to-year. Almost all parts are imported and paid for in foreign currencies – for example, fluctuations in the value of the SA Rand between 6th June 2021 and September 6 2021 saw a 6.7% negative change in the exchange rate to USD in just 90 days.

QUALITY WORKMANSHIP

VEHICLE SERVICING comes with immense risk and liability that could hurt the consumer if not executed/planned correctly. Franchise dealers have expert knowledge of your vehicle and trained technicians using appropriate equipment so vehicle owners are assured of safety and peace-of-mind over work performed.

Modern cars are like tablet computers on wheels – they become more complex by the day. Today’s technically-trained experts are more lab-coat and laptop than yesterday’s overall and lappie. As do accountants and insurance brokers, auto technicians require ongoing training and skills development.

What worked 10 – or even a couple of years – ago, might not apply to a vehicle sold a month earlier. Detailed and experienced knowledge of your vehicle is vital to safe, effective, and reliable repairs/maintenance.

WHAT IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG?

IN THE UNLIKELY event of a problem after work performed by a franchise dealer the vehicle owner will have the backing of established businesses with strong financial standing. Vehicle dealers and their suppliers’ OEM head offices have far more reputational risk than there would be with non-branded entities, largely because of the power of social media.

Franchise dealers and the brand(s) they represent are likely to do everything reasonable to assist customers, sometimes even when they are not at fault.

NATIONAL FOOTPRINT

IF YOUR VEHICLE is covered by an OEM plan you will have access to a far greater network of dealer workshops countrywide – sometimes even across international borders.

Over years of ownership you could form a trusted relationship with a dealer within a convenient vicinity; covered by an OEM plan you also have the assurance of the same quality of parts, workmanship, processes, and procedures from many franchises upholding OEM standards while travelling, or after a move.

OEMs make major investments in training programmes to equip their dealers technicians with the skills and knowledge required for intricate procedures and new technology. S6uch programmes are critical to vehicle safety and, in turn, the safety of technicians and vehicle owners – not only in South Africa but around the world.

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