Are urban service businesses on the way out?... plus the high cost of garage auto insurance.
Editor: Well-known Toronto independent Bento De Sao Jose may be forced to relocate his popular suburban Toronto location because his lease holder, Imperial Oil, wants to build a convenience store on the site. De Sao Jose wonders if other service businesses are also threatened, and how customers will be better served by fewer service options:
As a Toronto-based independent auto service business owner for 33 years, I feel that I cannot remain silent about an issue that I believe threatens both the local the auto service industry and consumer’s right to choose a service provider: the loss of our businesses to redevelopment. I have already been forced relocated once in the late 1990’s, and now face the disruption, loss of business and income from yet another plan to replace bays with a convenience store. Notice of the leaseholder’s plans came to me by way of a large sign posted in front of my shop, with no advance notice from the lease holder or the local planning authorities. My options are few, since Imperial Oil has the right to redevelop their property, but has the City considered the consequences of this rush to squeeze out small service businesses? Fewer consumer options, higher prices, greater distances to service providers and the loss of the trust that develops between the neighborhood service business and local customers are all at risk. How is the public better served by being forced to travel great distances, with fewer choices for auto repair? And how does driving the service bays outside the communities they serve better protect the environment? Many of my customers are able to walk to and from my business, which is a part of the neighborhood.
The loss of service bays is going on quietly throughout the city, so slowly that consumers won’t notice until it’s too late. The City should hold meetings in each neighborhood, with all stakeholders, including consumers, to determine if rezoning or redevelopment is a good thing. It’s difficult enough to offer value to consumers in a city with very high taxes, tough environmental regulations and high land costs. If we can’t secure leases that protect our ability to keep a location, then the race to the industrial parks will continue, and we’ll all lose. Garage owners and their customers need to call or write their local politicians about this issue before it’s too late.
Bento De Sao Jose,
Owner, Bento’s Auto & Service Centre Ltd.
Editor: Denis Gluck, owner of Weston, Ontario-based Yorkwoods Motors, sent SSGM a four-page garage operator’s auto insurance form, which contained many questions which are either difficult or impossible to answer. Frequency and distance of customers shuttled, numbers and radius of customer car pick up and delivery, where all cars held for sale are obtained, and details of all contractual liability the insured has entered into regarding damage to customers’ cars are examples. The final straw for Gluck was a major increase in premiums:
I know the insurance industry has suffered huge losses as a result of September 11th and substantial stock market losses also as a result of the previously mentioned disaster, and a recessional picture in the business world. However, do these losses justify horrific price increases to all parties concerned to the tune of 50-250 percent? In my opinion, they seem to be holding a gun to the head of small garage owners and appear to be looking for a bailout from those who have no power to fight back.
Owner, Yorkwoods Motors Ltd.
Do you have something to say about our industry? We’d love to hear from you. Address correspondence to: SSGM, 1450 Don Mills Rd., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M3B 2X7 or email@example.com
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