Having customers is one thing, but getting payments from them is another, Ndirande-based panel beater and spray painter Mabvuto Chibwana has learnt.
At his workstation, vehicles with different faults drive in and out almost all the time. These vehicles are tackled by various specialists available at this unique garage, but despite the good job that they pride themselves in, some customers default on payment.
“Some customers are simply not honest. They do give us the part payment at the beginning, but once their vehicles are fixed, they disappear. Some will give us cheques when they know that they do not have money in their accounts. When we take the cheque to the bank it bounces and they switch off their phones. We lose money that way,” he says.
As a panel beater, Chibwana says he deals with three or more types of panel beating. Some vehicles need replacement of certain parts, others have to be cut and joined with other cars and yet others are simply dents that need to be panel beaten.
“For vehicles with heavily damaged parts, we simply remove the damaged part and replace it with a new one. But there are other vehicles that are heavily damaged with no hope of revival. There could be one vehicle damaged heavily at the back and another heavily damaged in front. What we do with such cars is to cut the cars and join the better parts together to form an entirely new car,” says Chibwana.
Having been in the business for over 10 years , Chibwana says he is now well versed.
He learnt the trade from a friend who owned a garage. He would let him do certain things at the garage and with time, he developed an interest in panel beating and spray painting. Later, he went and established his own business in partnership with another friend.
Now he plies his own trade. Since he started, he has imparted the skill to over 50 people who are now working on their own and. At the moment, he is training six people, with hope that they would start their own trade.
Panel beating takes a lot of time, according to Chibwana. Depending on the severity of the damage, he says it can take anything from one day to one week or one month to complete. However, he points out that dents do not take long to mend.
From the business profits he has two plots and built two houses.