Schnepper: The road ahead

Our industry is undergoing a time of unprecedented change. Again. Getting bombarded with rapidly advancing electronic, material, manufacturing and powertrain technology is nothing new to ASA members. We’ve been here before, and each time someone predicted the end of the independent automotive service industry, as we know it. Thing is, this time I think it’s true. But not in the way you might imagine.

Each time our industry has been confronted with more complex electronic systems or new construction materials, we’ve risen to the challenge. We went to training classes at events with names such as NACE, VISION, ATE and CAN; spent many long hours with instructors from I-CAR, WorldPac, NAPA and CARQUEST Tech Net, and generally adapted to what was next.

We stepped up and made the investment in tools and equipment to service what’s next, too. Not only are we still here, we’re thriving. And for all of our efforts, the American public enjoys the most efficient, cost-effective and sophisticated vehicle service and repair system on the planet.

However, this time I think it’s different. It’s not just changing technology we’re dealing with. This time it involves another generation of shop owners, and that is why I believe we’re seeing the emergence of new business models that will change what it means to be in the business of automotive service and collision repair.

The next generation operates from a different perspective. They’re connected, involved and determined to make a difference. I, for one, welcome their arrival. They are the future of our industry, and they have new ideas.

Just as successful business owners have always changed their business models to adapt to a changing market, society and culture, so too must your association adapt to the new normal. These new shop owners do things differently, and showing them the value of membership in ASA will involve some different conversations – not just what is said, but also how it’s delivered and consumed.

Just as modern service facilities communicate with their customers any way they want, be it voice, email, text or social media, ASA is developing new ways to deliver access to information, training and a wide variety of support programs to our members. We are rethinking not only what we do but also how we are doing it, and we’re listening to those new voices and responding to their advice and recommendations as we move forward.

This year, ASA is focused on growing your association to make sure we have more of these new voices to help us navigate the road ahead. Working with our affiliates, the ASA board and staff will be taking advantage of every opportunity to reach out and become champions for the value of belonging to an organization that has helped so many before on the road to their success. I know I’m one of them. I’m inviting you to join me in becoming a champion for someone you think should be part of the ASA family. They’re out there, and they’re our future.