Back in 1992, the only emergency roadside assistance service provider South African motorists could subscribe to was the AA, and the country was crying out for someone to provide an alternative. This simple fact was enough incentive for us to start investigating the possibilities, and resulted in the establishment of Drivesafe South Africa (Pty) Ltd.
We immediately set about building up a database of service providers and entered into discussions with several motor manufacturers and insurance companies, because we knew that in order to succeed, we needed big business to subscribe to our ideas. Persuading big business to join our venture presented a considerable, yet understandable challenge. After all, how could some small new company from the Free State ever hope to take on the might of the AA and succeed?
Despite the odds stacked against us, we persevered and eventually attracted the attention of a gentleman by the name of Bert Ewing from the then Aegis Insurance Company. Bert Ewing was interested enough to put us into contact with International SOS Assistance, which was about to establish a branch in South Africa.
A viable alternative
The agreement that followed between Drivesafe and SOS proved to be extremely fortuitous to both companies, as our association lead to many assistance schemes that still operate successfully today. Delta Assist was the first initiative to be established, and was soon followed by Audi Assist, McCarthy Assist, Vodacom 147, and many others.
In 1997, Drivesafe was converted into the Minga Trust t/a Drivesafe South Africa. We continued our association with SOS until the year 2000, and an association with Europ Assistance SA followed shortly thereafter, and once again we were instrumental in helping an emergency assistance company become a considerable force in the industry, as Europ Assistance has undoubtedly become.
The industry at present
The availability of alternative emergency assistance providers has changed radically since our initial venture into the industry 25 years ago. A wide range of emergency services are now available, and most motor manufacturers and short term insurance companies ensure that they offer these services as standard to their clients.
In 2004, we became aware of the need for service providers to market their services to the many call centres that provided assistance services to various corporate client groups, and were illuminated by the possibilities of the internet. Three years later, as a result of our agreement with Media 24, Assist 24 was converted to Assist247, and it has gone on to become one the most respected sources of information in the industry. In addition, we are extensively used by various assistance companies, short term insurance companies and brokers, loyalty clubs, mechanical warranty administrators, motor dealers, component suppliers, and car rental companies to name but a few.
Assist247 is also fast becoming a household name in South Africa owing to our extensive and ongoing internet marketing campaign, as well as our successful venture into the mobile directory market. We believe that cell phones will soon become the primary source of information for people all over the world, and more specifically in Southern Africa. Assist247 will, of course, be on the forefront of the wave, marketing the services of their clients and providing easy access to the kind of information that cannot be found anywhere else.