This Is Your Call to Action!Posted 4/14/2005
By Geralynn Kottschade, AAM, Chairman
When we have association meetings or conference calls, we often refer to the M&Ms, meaning members helping members. Today, your fellow members need your help.
You no doubt have heard one way or another about CARE's actions in Washington, D.C. They are still trying to pass the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act. You may ask the simple question, "What's wrong with that?" After all, you want a guarantee that you will always have repair information available to you.
That's a great question. Let me answer it for you. You do have a guarantee. In September 2002, ASA signed an agreement with the automakers providing us with the service information Web sites and diagnostic data stream information for tool companies and training. To help improve the flow of information and resolve issues, automakers teamed with ASA and others to form the National Automotive Service Task Force (NASTF).
However, CARE has refused to participate in the process, and continues to push for legislation. It is easy to get confused by this issue. It might help if I explain what CARE is and who supports its agenda. CARE is the Coalition for Auto Repair Equality, which is financed by national giants like AutoZone, NAPA, CARQUEST, O'Reilly Auto Parts, CSK, Advanced Auto Parts, and mass merchandisers Pep Boys, Jiffy Lube and Midas and others. Few of its members are independent repair shops.
CARE has put together one of the most offensive public relations campaigns I have ever seen. They have openly told your customers and future customers, the motoring public, that you - the independent repair shop - cannot fix their vehicles. They are telling them only the dealer can perform many repairs. These folks get about 80 percent of their wholesale business from independent repairers, so why promote the idea that only the new car dealer is equipped to service the consumer's vehicle?
While many saw this as a mechanical service and repair issue in the beginning, it is important that collision shop owners understand that this is your issue, too. How many times do we repair a vehicle and at delivery time there is a dash light on? How are you dealing with resetting codes?
Regardless of which side of the business you are on - mechanical or collision - this issue affects you.
How can you help? Start saying no to legislation! For starters, you have valuable relationships with your parts vendors. They are your partners. Do not jeopardize your relationships, even though it appears they're trying hard to do just that. Start by asking questions. Ask them why they are trying to take away your business. If they don't know the answer, ask them to pursue the question with their zone manager, upper-level managers or jobbers.
You might also ask them why they feel the need for more government regulation and intervention in our business! NASTF is a voluntary industry process that works. Ask what they are doing to support this effort. If they don't understand the question or know the answer, encourage them to take it up their chain of command until you get a satisfactory response.
Talk to others too. Talk to your 20 Group leader, your fellow shop owners and your technicians. Make sure they understand what's happening.
This is your call to action! Your fellow ASA members also need you to contact your federal legislators and tell them the voluntary agreement between ASA and the automakers is working. Tell them to "just say no" to the Right to Repair legislation. If you have questions, go to ASA's legislative Web site, www.TakingTheHill.com, to look at the history of this legislation and stay informed. Let's not be forced to live with something we don't need or want. Act now to shut the door on this legislation today!
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