It's a Jungle Out There!
Leona Dalavai Scott and Charlene McCall, AAM
When you join ASA, membership does have its privileges. ASA members experience cost savings as a result of their membership on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. In this three-part series concluding in May, AutoInc. reviews ASA's extensive offerings of member benefits. From huge savings on equipment leasing to printed forms, ASA works hard to cultivate relationships with member service companies to provide the best discounts possible. That savings can make all the difference as you compete with other independents, dealerships and service providers in a tough market.
Backed by more than 50 years of experience, ASA excels at understanding the automotive service industry. ASA's specific focus is to provide the tools that today's business owner needs to be successful. ASA has teamed with more than 30 benefit providers whose area of specialty is providing products and services for automotive service businesses and professionals.
In addition to member benefits offered at the national level, ASA's 16 affiliate groups provide unique benefits to their geographical area. If you reside in an ASA affiliate area, you are urged to check the Web sites of those companies offering benefits.
Bottom line: ASA's benefit packages are designed to save members money, improve efficiency and build business. The first part of this series highlights online services and marketing, along with legislative initiatives, professional services and publications and information that gives ASA members discounts on their programs. Part two (April issue) will cover education and training, parts, estimating/ diagnostic programs and tools/ equipment. Part three (May issue) will highlight business aids, financial services, insurance, uniforms, utilities and warranties.
As an automotive service professional, every member of ASA is encouraged to evaluate each program. Many of them offer ASA members special pricing. Savings often more than pays for the cost of membership dues. Your membership could easily be paid by the savings you receive by joining!
For information on how you can start taking advantage of any of the 30-plus benefits highlighted in the three-part series, call ASA's membership department
at (800) 272-7467, ext. 295. Or visit our live online chat at www.asashop.org, located in the Members Only area, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. CDT. For nonmembers who are interested in taking advantage of these great membership benefits, call ASA toll free for a free membership packet or join online. Experience the savings that come from being a member of the premier association for the independent automotive service and repair industry.
Online Services and Marketing
For collision repair shops, AutoWatch (www.autowatch.com) could be a great way to score points with customers. Developed by See Progress Inc., the program creates customized Web sites for collision repair facilities and allows vehicle owners to view digital photos of their vehicles throughout the repair process via the Internet. Car owners can also see the estimated delivery day and time for their vehicles. Have a question? There's a convenient e-mail link to the assigned service advisor. ASA members can start seeing a savings from $200 to $455 if they sign up with AutoWatch.
Ever wish that you could remind your customers about the scheduled maintenance that needs to be performed on their vehicles? Several ASA member benefit providers offer this service and more. Using personalized, custom communications to target vehicle owners, the CustomerLink (www.customerlink.com) service encourages consumers to return to their independent service provider several times annually for manufacturers' recommended services, technician-recommended services, seasonal maintenance and wear-item replacement. Through CustomerLink, ASA members can realize savings on various services up to 44 percent.
In addition, CarTrak Online (www.cartrak.com) offers Internet services specifically designed for independent automotive shops. It offers fully functional Web sites with e-mail service reminders, online appointment scheduler and more. For shops that already have a Web site, the new Netprofit program provides content at a low cost with the possibility of generating commissions through e-commerce.
OnStation Corp. (www.onstation.com) provides solutions that allow automotive retailers and service centers to fully leverage the Internet to improve customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction. OnStation's ShopConnect program provides businesses with a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system including service reminders, targeted promotions, online scheduling, "thank you" notes and customer satisfaction surveys. OnStation currently offers ASA members a 50 percent discount on the normal set-up fee for new ShopConnect customers.
The next time you're on the Internet, be sure to point your browser to www.asashop.org. ASA's Web site is bursting with useful information. If you want the contact information for a member in your state, visit the Online Membership Directory in the Members Only section. Want to locate an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Web site? Go to Related Links and have immediate access to all of the OEM service information Web sites.
ASA's Web site also has a "Find Nearest ASA Shop" feature. All ASA member shops are listed so when visitors want their cars serviced, they can do a search on the "Find Nearest ASA Shop." If you're in their neighborhood, voila, you're listed! In addition, if a member has an existing Web site, ASA will link to the site free of charge from the member's listing. This is a great and easy way to step up your marketing efforts on the Web at no additional cost.
While you're online, don't miss www.TakingTheHill.com. Launched last year, it is a clearinghouse of information on legislative issues. The Web site is focused on a commitment to advance grassroots advocacy campaigns. In 2004, TakingTheHill.com sent more than 1,100 messages to elected federal and state officials. Visitors to the site, which include shop owners and motorists alike, have used ASA's Legislative Alert Center to send messages addressing insurer-owned repair shop
legislation, Association Health Plans legislation and opposition of the Motor Vehicle Owners' Right to Repair Act. Want to track a particular piece of legislation in Congress? You can do that through this convenient Web site.
Through ASA's online Information Center, you can access more than 9,000 abstracts focusing on business management, business statistics, career opportunities, legal issues, education/training and industry surveys.
If you are looking for a convenient (and free) way to open an e-mail account, look to ASA. Members can get a free e-mail account that you can access from anywhere at anytime. It has an easy-to-manage address book and external POP3 accounts. It also has 10 MB worth of storage. Even if you have an e-mail account, use ASA's account for business or personal use.
All ASA national members are entitled to a home page advertisement. The cost for this one-page Web site is $75 for design and storage. These advertisements are designed according to members' specifications and can include as much or as little information as the member wants.
ASA members are valued and respected for their industry knowledge and expertise and are proud to show that they are members through association merchandise. ASA's Online Store makes it easy to shop for more than 60 products consisting of promotional items, consumer brochures, ASA insignia products reference material and business forms. The Online Store can be found in the Members Only area of the Web site.
Publications and Professional Services
How can you improve your estimating process system? Should you purchase an OEM or an aftermarket scan tool, and does it matter which type you buy? Find the answers to these questions as well as much more information in the monthly division newsletters. The Collision Repair Report is tailored to ASA collision shops, while the Division Dispatch is written for mechanical repair shops. Both newsletters keep members abreast of their respective fields. They are mailed free each month to ASA members and are also available online. To access the newsletters, go to www.asashop.org and click on "Division Newsletters."
You've heard the old saying, you can count on three things: life, death and taxes. For those working in the automotive service industry, add change to that list. Working on cars that grow in complexity with each year makes it challenging to stay on top of all of the information. ASA's monthly magazine, AutoInc. (www.autoinc.org), free to all members, keeps you in touch with the industry by reporting on news, mechanical and collision issues as well as savvy advice on managing your shop. Each issue is packed with technical information that technicians can use.
Besides ASA's legislative Web site TakingTheHill.com, ASA has legislative representation in Washington, D.C., so that the voice of the automotive service industry can be heard. For more than 10 years, Robert L. Redding Jr. has represented our industry. He is a member of several federal and state advisory committees involved in the automotive industry and can offer a seasoned perspective on news that affects your business. Know that independent shops are well represented in our nation's capital through our representative.
Another great benefit ASA offers to its members is one that they don't often know about or take advantage of. With the expertise of our in-house research analyst, members can obtain a market profile of their business area. What is a market profile? Market profiles provide demographic information of the areas that surround mechanical and collision businesses in a certain ZIP code. They are free to every ASA member. For more information on market profiles, contact Denise Caspersen, ASA's research management specialist, at (800) 272-7467, ext. 236.
The beauty of ASA's member service benefits is that you can really use them! Take, for instance, Paychex, (www.paychex.com) provider of payroll processing, human resource and benefits outsourcing solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses. Paychex can take the burden and time-intensive work of maintaining a shop's payroll off your shoulders so you can focus on other things. It offers comprehensive payroll services including payroll processing, payroll tax administration, direct deposit and check signing. Human resource and benefits outsourcing services include 401(k) recordkeeping, Section 125 plans and workers' compensation administration. Paychex offers a 15 percent discount off normal payroll processing pricing for ASA members, as well as other discounts.
Wouldn't it be great to have a source to turn to when it comes to wage issues regarding your employees? That information is at your fingertips. By calling the Wage and Hour Hotline, you can get accurate information on how to comply with the complex and fast-changing Federal Wage and Hour laws and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations. Members receive valuable advice to prevent violations of labor law and employment policies within 48 hours of calling the hotline.
Next Month: Learn how you can save money on training, software and more! Plus, get a cost comparison of membership dues between ASA and other similar associations.
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