Developing a relevant business model for the South African informal car guarding sector.
Foster, John Robert Wilfred.
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Car guarding, a uniquely South African activity, has become a common form of informal employment. The perception of many is that car guarding is a last resort of financial survival and pursued by those entrapped in a life of drug/alcohol addiction or poor life choices. This study had five objectives: firstly to determine if car guarding and the income made solely from tips is an economically viable mean of survival; secondly to determine the socio-cultural challenges (such as the perception towards car guards) and the physical challenges (such as weather conditions faced) while performing their duties; thirdly to discover general and specific skills car guards possess, either from past employment, or obtained while car guarding; fourthly to reveal the factors which influenced individuals to become car guards; and lastly to better evaluate the current car guarding business models, in order to provide suggestions to improve these. An exploratory research design with convenience sampling of 30 car guards at six different public domains was used. The study was limited to Durban because a degree of rapport had been built through previous informal discussions with car guards. Data was collected from car guards by means of one on one detailed open-ended qualitative questioning in order to ascertain reasons and opinions. Quantitative aspects were not explored. The data obtained was recorded and analyzed by thematic analysis. The study revealed the dismal situation of car guards. For example, at most venues they are charged a “bay fee” to guard a designated area, and have no choice but to survive on the limited amount of donations they are able to obtain, after paying the fee. Besides being harassed and often intimidated by both motorists; security officers and the management of parking premises, they have to brave the elements and work long hours with no physical protection and hardly any employer-support. Recommendations include implementation of a more effective business model to allow for formalization of car guard employment and at the very least good work standards, training and skill development. Organizations need to rise to the challenge to support car guards and local Community Policing Forums (CPF) need to be more involved in assisting car guards.
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