A recent email from a member spurred this particular message. He was concerned that, as an independent repair professional, he has no clout. He told me he lacks confidence in the parts he’s getting and automakers are out to get him. He no longer feels like he’s a valued part of the industry. After discussing this, our board concluded that we have work to do to adjust this perception.
This is a huge topic, so I’ll just touch on the highpoints. Let’s start with the automakers.
More than ever, we have great relationships with most of the automakers on both collision and service repair sides of the industry. OErepairinfo.com was a collaborative project by ASA and the Auto Alliance. And manufacturers helped put it together with much time and resources. Why?
They recognize and respect the talent of our members, and they know our abilities to successfully repair their vehicles will support their desire to retain customers who are purchasing their next vehicle. After all, there are new brands trying to take market share from the traditional automakers, and customer retention is important.
The parts equation remains challenging for our Mechanical and Collision divisions, both for their ability to offer a quality product and make enough profit to pay the bills. Successful shops have figured this out, but the formula is constantly changing.
On the collision side, we’ve been busy with legislative actions and serving on committees for the Collision Industry Conference and the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) to protect our members’ ability to provide the quality parts their customers want, with the least amount of interference.
For our service repair members, we’ve been proactive in developing strong relationships with many “tier one” suppliers that also service the aftermarket. These tier one companies are the go-to suppliers that partner with OEs.
The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (MEMA/AASA) represent many of them. They’re groups we have a great relationship with. Part of our regional training program includes a short presentation from AASA on how you can get a better handle on acquiring the right parts for your business from your parts store suppliers.
Finally, we’ve been working on issues with the Auto Care Association, which represents many suppliers, and we’ve had an excellent relationship with AutoZone. In the coming months we’ll expand these and many other relationships to give you direct access to even more of the folks you buy parts from every day.
Our goal is to create communication channels that give you the clout you need for the difficult jobs you do. Tell us your challenges. Often, we’ll have a contact or a solution in place that can take away your pain.
One of the core reasons you’re part of an association is to associate. You have a direct connection to the right people when you need it. If you want proof, make a point to participate in our regional training programs, where the work of our volunteers and staff is on display.