PMB: Crunch hits vehicle servicing industry

2008-11-21 00:00

MOTOR vehicle repair and maintenance businesses in Pietermaritzburg have taken a tremendous knock this year as motorists have increasingly opted to “stretch” their service interval periods.

According to experienced people in the trade, the word on the street is that business is quiet.

They agree that the high cost of living has been a major factor.

One city businessman who owns a repair and maintenance business said that it has been a disastrous trading year. He said labour, spares, oil and fuel have all increased in price and that “foot count” has steadily diminished.

“Previously, the average was seven cars a day and now it is about two or three cars a day.”

Rising rental costs are also putting pressure on businesses.

Justin Andrews of Andrews Auto Mech moved to Merrivale six months ago after a 50% hike.

He has also experienced a bad trading year. “Trading is much, much lower. People just don’t have the cash. A lot of people are living month to month, delaying servicing or prolonging service intervals. The repair work does get bigger [when this happens].”

Arnold Dauth of Arnold’s Auto in Hilton said he has also experienced a slowdown in 2008.

He also believes that people in higher income groups are tending to avoid “agents” or dealerships for a better deal elsewhere.

The owner of City Auto Services, Louie Govender, is more upbeat. He said that although they have experienced a slight decline, their “service club” remains healthy — although they have experienced significant price increases.

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