Check Engine Light Program ... The Rest of the StoryPosted 10/8/2007
By Aaron Clements, AAM, Chairman
I recently attended a meeting at the AutoZone headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., to share the ASA viewpoint on their Check Engine Light and Shop Referral program. I know you may be asking how helping someone with a free check engine light and shop referral program could help ASA members - much less the industry. I had those same thoughts as I entered the room with two pages of questions.
Well, my thoughts are that with or without our input, AutoZone and many others are - or will be - providing this service. It draws in consumers and creates customer loyalty for parts suppliers. If a company that has 5 million customers a week is willing to ask for input from the independent repair sector, try to find ways to give the consumer more accurate information and refer the consumer to a professional shop when needed, I feel it is my duty to meet with them.
Before attending the meeting I visited two AutoZone stores. I also called several shop owners and talked to many automotive technicians.
I put together a long list of concerns. Most of you know some of the concerns, such as the consumer believing that the code retrieval is diagnostics and no longer wants to pay for diagnostics. Or the consumer will spend all of their money on parts that did not repair the problem - and does not want to spend anything more. Or the consumer is going to walk in your door and want you to install a part that may or may not repair the problem, take away your parts profit, put you in the middle or make you feel guilty if you do not install the part.
Those are just a few of the questions I had.
During the meeting I was very surprised. Most of the concerns from a previous meeting were already addressed. They showed me tri-fold brochures that will be used to inform consumers about the importance of proper diagnostics. Other concerns were heard and discussed. Many notes were taken.
I will also share with you the final bullet point in the 13-page handout I received. It reads: "Honest feedback - If something doesn't look right, let us know."
I will not try to give you the details of the campaign or the program. I will, however, urge you to take a close look at the program. To some members it will be a good benefit. For others it may not be a benefit at all. But I think we can all agree that it is a better program for the industry with ASA input than it may have been without it.
I must say that whether the check engine light campaign helps me one day or not, I was impressed that AutoZone asked for our opinion and addressed so many of my concerns. If the entire industry would work together in the same manner, we would see improvements beyond our wildest dreams.
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