Is it just me? or does it seem that lately there are a lot of businesses being started that insert themselves into the flow of existing transactions only to harvest your profits and lesson the margins of those doing the work and accepting responsibility (us). I am referring to technology companies: Repair Pal, Openbay, CarFix and now Blockchain to mention a few. It is frustrating to me after having built a business (brick and mortar), purchased equipment, hired employees, provide training, accepted full responsibility and risk, supported my community only to have a startup backed by money hungry venture capitalists attempt to erode our profit margin.
I find the statements from co-founder Vladimir Lupenko of Blockchain in this months Ratchet & Wrench extremely arrogant: "The repair industry is huge, and people always get cheated" "We use reputable and undisputable technical data to set the market and price rate". Vladimir goes on to say "Based on our contractual agreement , the repair shop will have to provide the service at the price we have calculated".
As good shop owners, protective of our future, we best rally against this technology, this Wolf in sheep's clothing. My research of these companies leads me to believe that no good will come from their involvement in our businesses. We, as independent shop owners, are operating in an industry some see as ripe for consolidation and this technology is just one of the signs.
I ask that anyone reading this post refuse to participate. The involvement of these companies is not a 'quick fix' for a shop needing car count. Their intention is to drive down your prices, recruit price shopping customers only and mine your data base for their benefit. If our industry sees their existence as a threat and together, refuse to become a member of their organization, they will disappear. Without shops to refer to they lose all value to the consumer and will not be able to return a profit to their investors.
To read the complete article, follow this link: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/5504-how-blockchain-technology-could-affect-your-shop
To support this research here is a seperate article from this months Ratchet & Wrench magazine discussing how to price your services for long term health and growth: https://www.ratchetandwrench.com/articles/4841-how-to-price-to-gain-customer-loyalty?utm_medium=email&utm_source=utm_code
By Joe Marconi
It's no secret that Home Depot changed the Hardware Store business. Are we seeing the same thing occur with the auto parts industry? Will Wall Street dictate the future of the parts business? Main Street, not Wall Street once dominated our business landscape.
Part stores were part of the community. Did they cater to the DIY? Of course they did. But the DIYer was someone who could actually work on his car, not the weekend warrior who has no business sticking his head under the hood. And why does he attempt to stick his head under the hood? Because companies like Advance and Auto Zone tells them they belong there. Don't know how to install your alternator, no problem, click on this video and we will show you Mr. DIY.
There is no stopping big business and what mass consolidation will do to our industry. But, guys like me don't have to like it. The truth is Home Depot may have shifted their industry, but it also made a select group of business owners only stronger. The same may happen in the parts business.
Big Parts Guys, if you truly want OUR business, you need to stop catering to the DIY market and insulting us by telling us the DIYer is not our customer. The motoring public hears your commercials, they see you ads, they get your discount flyers in the mail. So, stop the insults. I would have more respect if you just come clean.
My guess, nothing will happen. The big guys won't change when money gets in the way. When home town and Wall Street collide, Wall Street usually wins. Usually, but not always.
By Joe Marconi
Pep Boys has been struggling the past few years and it looks like they may be bought out. How this will play out is unclear. Here's a thought; would Advance Auto or NAPA be interested in Pep Boys? Is more consolidation coming? And is this good for the independents?
Here's an article in the Wall Street Journal about the potential sale of Pep Boys:
By Joe Marconi
The Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that Atlanta-based The Home Depot is seeing success with its pilot program for the automotive Do-It-Yourself (DIY) market. The company currently is running the pilot program in about 50 stores. Home Depot originally launched the pilot program in 10 stores in 2006. The home improvement retailer has dedicated about 500-square-feet of floor space to auto products, including motor oil and fuel additives.
It is hard to imagine how Home Depot sees opportunity in the DIY market. I was under the assumption that companies such as Advance and AutoZone are working to form a strong alliance with the commercial trade. What does Home Depot know that others do not?
Here is a link to an article and source.
By Joe Marconi
AutoZone continues to show that it is a major player in the auto parts business. With many independents experiencing a roller coaster ride with regard to sales, part companies appear to be doing ok. Below is a link in Aftermarket Magazine.