The future had little meaning to me my first few years in business. The only future I cared about back in the early 1980s was the end of each day. I was too entrenched in the day to day operations to be concerned or aware of anything else. My thinking today? The future is everything.
I have been in the auto industry nearly 40 years, I can truly say that I am proud of the job we do as independent shop owners. We keep America rolling. We work tirelessly to serve and satisfy our customers. Oh, we complain at times, but in the end we get the job done. We are aftermarket shop owners; something to be proud of, a badge of honor. But, we cannot rest on our past accomplishments; we will need unity and commitment if we are to thrive in the future.
As an industry we will be faced with many challenges. The world is quickly changing before our eyes. Electronics will continue to dominate all new automotive-related developments. Driverless cars, telematics, infotainment and collision avoidance systems are just the tip of the iceberg. But there are other challenges to contend with as well.
We all know how the new car dealerships have changed their strategies. They want a bigger share of automotive repairs and maintenance. Dealerships still need and want to sell cars, but they realize that their market share for new car sales is much less now than it once was. They need to increase revenue from the sale of parts and service. They also know that future car sales are largely made in the service department, not in the sales department. Dealerships want to retain a customer in the service department from the time of the sale of the new car to past the warranty period. That will greatly increase the odds that the customer will buy another car from the same dealership. New car dealers will be a major competitor for the aftermarket repair shops. In many areas around the country, it’s already happening.
Telematics is another issue. Malcolm Sissmore, telematics sales director for Delphi Products and Service Solutions, stated at a recent seminar that OnStar has a 70 percent close rate among new car owners. That means when OnStar contacts these customers for whatever reason, 70 percent go back to the dealership for that service. This is something we can no longer ignore. Luckily Delphi is working for the aftermarket and has developed a telematics solution for us.
Compared to the 1970s, when I first broke into the business, today’s changing technology has reached light speed. It will take an intelligent work force and a lifetime commitment to continued training to keep pace. Continued investments in tools, equipment, information systems and training will become crucial. Those that do not make the commitment will not be around in the future.
Independent shop owners throughout history have always found a way to adapt and change. Our ability to overcome any obstacle is a testament to our dedication to our customers, to our craft and to our industry. We will continue to face many obstacles and challenges. But if our past has proved anything, it has proven that we, the independent service facilities, will continue to dominate the automotive landscape.
One of things we can all count on is the continued support from AutoShopOwner.com. ASO will continue to be the sounding board for shop owners. AutoShopOwner.com members are the cream of the crop. Just about any issue you are faced with in your shop can be found within the forums. Plus the willingness to help each other is nothing short of amazing. We may be competitors in some arenas, but ASO members are colleagues and friends. We all benefit when we collectively share and exchange ideas, opinions and knowledge.
AutoShopOwner.com is committed to you, the shop owner. Not just for today, but well into the future. Our mission statement tag line says it all, “Networking today for a stronger tomorrow.”