AA opens first franchised service centre

The Automobile Association (AA) has launched its first AA Auto Centre in South Africa in Gauteng and plans to open several similar centres throughout South Africa.

AA AUTOCENTRE 002

It said the centres will perform vehicle servicing and maintenance for all motorists, not only to AA members although AA members will benefit through a discount of 10% on offerings through the centres. It says centres will be established throughout South Africa as part of its mission to provide motorists with cost-effective, reliable, and trusted services.

AA Auto Centre will also offer a specific service for fleet owners and managers.

AA CEO Willem Groenewald stressed that AA Auto Centre is a natural extension of the association’s mission to ensure South Africans are safe on the road and safe when they are considering purchasing or selling their vehicle, by providing them with the honest and correct technical condition of the vehicles.

Automobile Association CEO, Willem Groenewald, (left), and AA Auto Centre owner, Noelan Vandayar, officially opening the first AA Auto Centre in Johannesburg.

The first AA Auto Centre is located in Strijdom Park in Johannesburg and is owned by Noelan Vandayar, a former long-serving executive at the AA.

AA spokesperson Layton Beard said there were plans to roll out more AA Auto Centres in other major centres but could not at this stage confirm how many of the centres would be established.

“In the next 18 to 24 months you should start seeing growth in the number of centres. It’s about finding the right locations, making sure we have the right people running and staffing them and doing everything correctly from the get-go,” he said.

Beard said the centres would provide a good service at a fair and reasonable price and they would endeavour to ensure consumers did not walk away thinking there was something amiss with the process, but with confidence that everything that was done was necessary. He said the centres must be self-sufficient and generate their own income.

Beard denied the establishment of the centres was prompted by the publication – by the Competition Commission in December 2020 – of the final guidelines for competition in the South African automotive aftermarket.

The guidelines, which will become effective from July 1 2021, are aimed at removing restrictions imposed by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) vehicle owners on the service providers they can use for service and maintenance as well as replacement parts for their motor vehicles.

Beard stressed the establishment of the AA Auto Centre was something the association has been planning for a long time.

“It is something that was mooted a long time ago, but we had to do consumer and market research. It wasn’t a fly-by-night decision because of the Competition Commission’s guidelines,” he said.

Guests at the opening of the first AA Autocentre in Randburg, Johannesburg.

Groenewald said launching the AA Auto Centre is also important to the AA from an employment and transformation perspective.

"That one of our former executives owns this first outlet is significant because Noelan [Vandayar] understands the ethos and values we subscribe to,” he said.

Apart from providing servicing and maintenance, the AA Auto Centre will also perform detailed 128-point checks on vehicles, provide diagnostic reports and a multi-point general vehicle safety check. It will also check, repair or replace brakes, batteries, shock absorbers, oil, do wheel alignments, vehicle air conditioner gas refilling and conduct electrical fault finding and repair.

Vandayar said they have brought in high-end equipment and all their technicians are industry veterans and everyone’s qualifications are validated and verified.

“We have partnered with the best equipment suppliers, have seasoned, experienced people on the floor, and all the lubricants are from Motul, one of the world’s leading lubricant providers.

“We have to give the best to each and every customer because that’s what they expect from the AA. All of this is long overdue. As the custodian of South African motorists, we have an obligation to provide these kinds of professional services at reasonable prices. Our goal is to restore trust in the aftermarket space, as well as retain the integrity of the AA through quality workmanship,” he said.

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