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Joe Marconi

Advance Auto Parts Marketing Continues to Hurt Auto Repair Shops

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Let me give you a prime example of what we are going through as a result of the Advance Marketing strategy:

Last week a customer came to us with a steering pull and requested a wheel alignment. After our routine inspection, we informed the customer that the ball joints were worn and they would need to be replaced before the alignment was done. The customer thanked us and said he would let us know what he decides.

The customer came back yesterday and told us, "I decided to go to Advance, bought the ball joints from them and they even LOANED ME THE TOOLS TO DO THE JOB!"

But, he is the real story: The truck now has clunks and noises and the steering wanders all over the road. His attempt to do his own ball joints, has now left his truck unsafe to drive due to his lack of expertise to perform the job properly.

This is what I have been battling with Advance and no one will listen. Why? They made the sale and that's what's important to Advance. Not the safety of the consumer, and certainly not the shop that lost the sale and is now stuck trying to figure out what went wrong.

The Advance marketing strategy will hurt the independents and send the wrong message to the consumer. Free testing, free battery installation, reading codes in the parking lot,loaner tools sets; will all do more harm than good to the relationship between Advance and the repair shops. How can Advance expect me to buy from them when they want to compete with me? That makes no sense.

And please don't tell me, "That's not your customer." I am so tired of hearing that. It is my customer! The entire motoring public hears and sees the advertising.

This is why I have serious issues with Advance, and cannot support them. And nothing will change as long as Advance listens to Wall Street and not Main Street.

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"This is what I have been battling with Advance and no one will listen. Why? They made the sale and that's what's important to Advance."

To play devil's advocate here for a minute, isn't that what matters to any business, the sale? If you weren't personally and directly affected would you feel the same way? if it were a different industry wouldn't that be justified as "competitive advantage?"

 

Having read your comments for years I think the answer to my question is, "No." But I think you can also understand that to many shop owners, the answer is an absolute, "Yes." So long as they aren't the ones being negatively affected.

 

"The Advance marketing strategy will hurt the independents and send the wrong message to the consumer. Free testing, free battery installation, reading codes in the parking lot,loaner tools sets; will all do more harm than good to the relationship between Advance and the repair shops. How can Advance expect me to buy from them when they want to compete with me? That makes no sense."

 

I have made this same argument for years. I refuse to buy anything from Advance, period. I will close my business if they are my only choice. I refuse to buy from Autozone unless they are the ONLY option. Why so many shops will and do buy from AAP and now CarQuest is beyond me. Talk about holding the knife that's cutting your throat.

 

 

"And please don't tell me, "That's not your customer." I am so tired of hearing that. It is my customer! The entire motoring public hears and sees the advertising."

 

I too have been making this same argument for years. Often to the scourge of other shop owners. Condescending arrogant types who think they know it all and that because they do this or that in their shops that everyone else should do the exact same thing too.

 

 

"This is why I have serious issues with Advance, and cannot support them. And nothing will change as long as Advance listens to Wall Street and not Main Street."

 

It's not just Advance, it's almost any corporate interest, Joe. And many smaller businesses follow the same, "Take no prisoners. No price is too high so long as someone else pays it," mentality. i would dare to say some are even members here. It's an difficult reality to acknowledge,but it is reality all the same.

 

We need a better people. But so long as greed is rampant, we will never achieve fairness for all.

 

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Advance Auto Parts Marketing Continues to Hurt Auto Repair Shops

 

Wow....BIG HEADLINES!! How about this?

 

O'Reillys Auto parts marketing continues to hurt Auto Repair shops???(Advance and Autozone are not the only ones)

 

-or-

 

Home depot marketing continues to hurt contractors!!!

 

_how about-

 

Walgreens affecting Doctors bottom lines by offering physicals in store!!!

 

Why the sensationalist headlines?? Why the one off story about how you lost an alleged customer?

 

Or how about this headline (I like it much better)

 

HOW ADVANCE AUTO PARTS ADVERTISING CONTINUES TO HELP PROFITABILITY OF AUTO REPAIR SHOPS!!!!

 

This person is now back in your shop after attempting to fix his own car. Hopefully this lesson will teach him is cheaper to let the professional do it the first time rather than to pay him to fix what he screwed up. You are not going to change how big business markets themselves nor are you going to gain by lathering up the troops about it. You would be far better off to focus on how to offer more value to your customers who dont fall prey to marketing schemes and the like so you can remain prosperous and come up with other USP's your business has to offer.

 

my .02

 

 

 

Now...let's talk about something really serious...how about all those shops that advertise discount oil changes....we should really do something about that!

 

 

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@WheelingAuto,

I think Joe refuted your point in your holier-than-thou condescending rant.

First of all, Joe is 100% correct, the entire motoring public hears the marketing message, either on the radio or on TV that all these services are free so why should they have to pay us?

We can market that our battery testing isn't just hooking up the tester and "Yup/Nope" but we check the integrity of the cables, we test the alternator in real world conditions, etc.etc. But all the customer knows for sure, what they come to the counter thinking is "the other guy does this exact same thing for free." It's not the exact same thing, but that's what they think and when we try to explain otherwise, all too often we have lost before we even get to talk.

 

Or how about the check engine light and code scans? I can't tell you how many people think all we do is, "Plug that thing into my car and it tells you what's wrong." You know that's true, that the customer thinks that. But we all know it's not true. That code is only a starting point. Every single code has a minimum of 3 possible causes, 1)the component identified ie the oxygen sensor, 2) the wiring connecting the component to the control module identifying the problem or 3) the control module identifying the problem. But the cheapo DIY stores won't tell the customer that. The official line from these places is that the counter people are NOT supposed to indicate a diagnosis, they are supposed to equip the customer with the knowledge of what the code is and then be referred to a shop. Even in the ideal world where this is the case, that is implying that shops are crooked and dishonest and you need to go to AZ/AAP/O'Reilly's etc. and get the low down so you don't get ripped off when you go to the shop. But we all know what really happens, the customer goes there, gets their code scan and little printout and then comes to you telling you what is wrong. The guys told me this is what I need. But it isn't.

Real world examples, from my own customer database:

2002 Ford Mustang, Memory Code P0402, KOER code: P1408

AZ told him AND sold him that he needed an EGR valve.

We all know he didn't, that he needed the DPFE sensor.

 

1998 Pontiac Grand Am 3.4L

DTC: P0172

Exhaust is BLACK, engine starts hard, Oxygen sensor registers full rich and does not fluctuate.

The parts store told him he needed an oxygen sensor.

You can probably guess what he needed instead, a fuel pressure regulator. But they told him so I must be wrong.

 

Same car, 2 years later.

The engine was hunting for idle, DTCs P0171 and P0121 and you hear a hissing noise when the hood is opened. The parts store guys told him he needed a TPS because of the DTC. They are just minimum rage guys who can punch buttons on a computer but because they work at a parts store they think they are auto repair professionals. Turns out he had a gross vacuum leak at the emissions hose connection right behind the throttle body. But they told him it needed a TPS so it had to need one.

 

These people ARE our customers, there is no escaping that. There aren't enough "A" grade customers for us to ignore these "B" and "C" grade people. Even our "A" customers hear the marketing and wonder causing us to have to reestablish ourselves as the experts and rebuild their trust in us. Even if they don't lose trust completely it does diminish. Think about it, the typical customer visits the repair shop on average 3-4 times a year. But they hear the marketing message probably at least once a week.

 

No, Joe has it right, these parts stores actively and aggressively market to countermand our worth and then expect us to buy from them to support the assault on our integrity, honesty, knowledge, skill, expertise and worth. There is no comparison to the shops that advertise those discount oil changes. They aren't trying to convince OUR customers that we are overcharging the customer AND trying to get us to buy from them.

 

I wrote on a different thread that buying from these stores is like holding the knife that is cutting your own throat. I still stand by that statement.

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I wrote on a different thread that buying from these stores is like holding the knife that is cutting your own throat. I still stand by that statement.

 

I will address the rest of your post when I get a chance. What I would like to know @thetrustedmechanic is where do you buy your parts from?

 

Please let us know where you purchase your aftermarket parts from.

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I will address the rest of your post when I get a chance. What I would like to know @thetrustedmechanic is where do you buy your parts from?

 

Please let us know where you purchase your aftermarket parts from.

Ooh! Do I detect a note or desperation to defend one's business decisions? I mean what difference does it make where I buy my parts from?

But I'll play your game because I think I know where you're trying to go.

I buy most of my parts from NAPA. Most but not all. I have a very low failure rate and I know for a fact that the local store will scan codes but every single counter person has told me they will NOT sell parts and will not give a diagnosis. They will only scan the code and refer the owner of a broken car to a shop, my shop. And many of those who are referred confirm that they were told what the code was but that it required further professional attention to properly address the concern.

My second call is to a local independent part store with 3 local stores where no other parts supplier has two. They also have at least 10 stores in outer lying towns and villages. They do NOT scan codes. They are affiliated with AutoValue and a Motorcraft supplier downstate.

My third call is to another local independent part store who is the local AC Delco distributor and also is affiliated with AutoValue and a Motorcraft supplier downstate. I am told by the salesman, who I know and trust, that they do NOT scan codes either.

All 3 will test your alternator and starter for you IF you remove it and bring it in. I think they all test batteries too. I know the ones that do ask why the customer has a concern about the battery and if it's anything but a bad battery they will advise the customer to seek professional assistance with a shop.

 

My last call is to the manufacturers' dealers. But I stand by my statement, I will close my doors if Advance becomes the only part store in town. It's not just because of the issues raised here. I dealt with them when I first opened because I knew the manager. But after two abysmal warranty issue within a month I was done. Then the following year I had an issue with a brake pad that delaminated and was told it had to be a problem with a different part of the brakes and therefore there was no warranty. All other brake pads (I did four wheel pads, rotors and calipers) had worn 1 mm from new. So there was no other problem. But they refused to stand behind their products too many times so I will NEVER spend another penny with AAP. Oh, and just in case you were gonna try playing "Gotcha" if I said I bought from CarQuest, we don't have a CarQuest in town anymore. And when we did, they were literally my last call and then only if no one else had it in stock and I absolutely had to have it that day.

 

Thanks for playing, but you didn't win.

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@WheelingAuto,

I think Joe refuted your point in your holier-than-thou condescending rant.

First of all, Joe is 100% correct, the entire motoring public hears the marketing message, either on the radio or on TV that all these services are free so why should they have to pay us?

We can market that our battery testing isn't just hooking up the tester and "Yup/Nope" but we check the integrity of the cables, we test the alternator in real world conditions, etc.etc. But all the customer knows for sure, what they come to the counter thinking is "the other guy does this exact same thing for free." It's not the exact same thing, but that's what they think and when we try to explain otherwise, all too often we have lost before we even get to talk.

 

Or how about the check engine light and code scans? I can't tell you how many people think all we do is, "Plug that thing into my car and it tells you what's wrong." You know that's true, that the customer thinks that. But we all know it's not true. That code is only a starting point. Every single code has a minimum of 3 possible causes, 1)the component identified ie the oxygen sensor, 2) the wiring connecting the component to the control module identifying the problem or 3) the control module identifying the problem. But the cheapo DIY stores won't tell the customer that. The official line from these places is that the counter people are NOT supposed to indicate a diagnosis, they are supposed to equip the customer with the knowledge of what the code is and then be referred to a shop. Even in the ideal world where this is the case, that is implying that shops are crooked and dishonest and you need to go to AZ/AAP/O'Reilly's etc. and get the low down so you don't get ripped off when you go to the shop. But we all know what really happens, the customer goes there, gets their code scan and little printout and then comes to you telling you what is wrong. The guys told me this is what I need. But it isn't.

Real world examples, from my own customer database:

2002 Ford Mustang, Memory Code P0402, KOER code: P1408

AZ told him AND sold him that he needed an EGR valve.

We all know he didn't, that he needed the DPFE sensor.

 

1998 Pontiac Grand Am 3.4L

DTC: P0172

Exhaust is BLACK, engine starts hard, Oxygen sensor registers full rich and does not fluctuate.

The parts store told him he needed an oxygen sensor.

You can probably guess what he needed instead, a fuel pressure regulator. But they told him so I must be wrong.

 

Same car, 2 years later.

The engine was hunting for idle, DTCs P0171 and P0121 and you hear a hissing noise when the hood is opened. The parts store guys told him he needed a TPS because of the DTC. They are just minimum rage guys who can punch buttons on a computer but because they work at a parts store they think they are auto repair professionals. Turns out he had a gross vacuum leak at the emissions hose connection right behind the throttle body. But they told him it needed a TPS so it had to need one.

 

These people ARE our customers, there is no escaping that. There aren't enough "A" grade customers for us to ignore these "B" and "C" grade people. Even our "A" customers hear the marketing and wonder causing us to have to reestablish ourselves as the experts and rebuild their trust in us. Even if they don't lose trust completely it does diminish. Think about it, the typical customer visits the repair shop on average 3-4 times a year. But they hear the marketing message probably at least once a week.

 

No, Joe has it right, these parts stores actively and aggressively market to countermand our worth and then expect us to buy from them to support the assault on our integrity, honesty, knowledge, skill, expertise and worth. There is no comparison to the shops that advertise those discount oil changes. They aren't trying to convince OUR customers that we are overcharging the customer AND trying to get us to buy from them.

 

I wrote on a different thread that buying from these stores is like holding the knife that is cutting your own throat. I still stand by that statement.

 

 

After reading both of your posts I think you may feel as if I am protecting or aligned with Advanced or any other parts vendor. I am not. I choose not to buy from advanced for the same reasons above but more importantly they sell junk. My point about where do you buy your parts from is NAPA Auto Value all do the same thing and advertise the same way. I am happy to hear you think they dont by you but up here in the big city they do. And weather they admit to you or not they will there also. Their bosses are looking for growth.

 

As far as comparison of auto parts stores and cheap oil changes. They both are trying to do the same thing. Take the car out of your bay and put it in their bay or parking lot. There are many auto repair shops who advertise free code scans just as there are many who do free brake inspections...maybe you do that?

 

It;'s all in an effort to get the magical $$$$. I can say if you (meaning anyone) do free brake inspections or cheap oil changes your devaluing our industry.....but what good would it do me?

 

 

I see Joe Marconi who writes for a National publication who by fault becomes an industry leader standing on a soap box creating headlines that lather up the common folk to get a reaction. What I think he should be doing is educating us about what we should focus on as small businessmen. How about you forget about the few that make life difficult and focus on the ones who don't. When the one idiot darkens your door step who installed Chinese ball joints and now wants you to fix it right get paid, every step of the way. Charge for what you know, and what you fix without concern of what someone else would do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ooh! Do I detect a note or desperation to defend one's business decisions? I mean what difference does it make where I buy my parts from?

But I'll play your game because I think I know where you're trying to go.

I buy most of my parts from NAPA. Most but not all. I have a very low failure rate and I know for a fact that the local store will scan codes but every single counter person has told me they will NOT sell parts and will not give a diagnosis. They will only scan the code and refer the owner of a broken car to a shop, my shop. And many of those who are referred confirm that they were told what the code was but that it required further professional attention to properly address the concern.

My second call is to a local independent part store with 3 local stores where no other parts supplier has two. They also have at least 10 stores in outer lying towns and villages. They do NOT scan codes. They are affiliated with AutoValue and a Motorcraft supplier downstate.

My third call is to another local independent part store who is the local AC Delco distributor and also is affiliated with AutoValue and a Motorcraft supplier downstate. I am told by the salesman, who I know and trust, that they do NOT scan codes either.

All 3 will test your alternator and starter for you IF you remove it and bring it in. I think they all test batteries too. I know the ones that do ask why the customer has a concern about the battery and if it's anything but a bad battery they will advise the customer to seek professional assistance with a shop.

 

My last call is to the manufacturers' dealers. But I stand by my statement, I will close my doors if Advance becomes the only part store in town. It's not just because of the issues raised here. I dealt with them when I first opened because I knew the manager. But after two abysmal warranty issue within a month I was done. Then the following year I had an issue with a brake pad that delaminated and was told it had to be a problem with a different part of the brakes and therefore there was no warranty. All other brake pads (I did four wheel pads, rotors and calipers) had worn 1 mm from new. So there was no other problem. But they refused to stand behind their products too many times so I will NEVER spend another penny with AAP. Oh, and just in case you were gonna try playing "Gotcha" if I said I bought from CarQuest, we don't have a CarQuest in town anymore. And when we did, they were literally my last call and then only if no one else had it in stock and I absolutely had to have it that day.

 

Thanks for playing, but you didn't win.

 

 

 

No, you're right. I did not win the internet message board fight.

 

I have never spent a penny with AAP. But I do spend more than 10k a month with World Pac (Guess who owns them).

 

MY thoughts are as small business owners we should figure out our Unique selling points. If ours are weak or non existent we need to create or strengthen them. Figure out what you need to do to be successful. Whining about what they are does nothing for you.

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“MY thoughts are as small business owners we should figure out our Unique selling points. If ours are weak or non existent we need to create or strengthen them. Figure out what you need to do to be successful. Whining about what they are does nothing for you. “

You have a legitimate point, as far as it goes. But it ignores a great deal of reality too. You are defending your business practices because you do reward the enemy. Yes I know AAP owns WorldPAC.

As for our USPs, guess what? When your so-called ally, your partner, your supplier is actively and aggressively trying to tear down your USP, your competitive advantage, your value-added part of the equation, continuing to reward their assault by continuing to buy from them is foolish and self-destructive.

 

We all know that what they are selling (free code scans) is not what the customer thinks they are getting. And the DIY stores are dishonest in that they are banking on that ignorance from the customer. But instead of working WITH us to build up the integrity of auto care the DIY stores are working AGAISNT us, just as Joe and I explained above. But keep it up, keep rewarding their efforts to devalue what you and we do and maybe you will find yourself only doing $5k a month with them and not by choice.

 

Sorry, but you still don’t have a valid argument.

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My argument Is I dont think Joe should be focused on stirring up the masses to get a response that will not do any of us good. Whining about what AAP is doing is like whining about what the national auto chains are doing with all the low priced based offers (or free) which do not align with out viewpoints.

 

You might want to write about AAA too!!! look at what they are doing!

 

In selecting a vendor I am looking for an entity who can supply me with quality parts, give me great delivery and who will stand behind it when needed. Since WP and other vendors can do that I purchase from them. I do not purchase from the AAP AZ and the like because they sell crap. The more they do stuff for free the less I have to deal with those that believe it is/should be free.

 

I can then focus on my customers and their needs.

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Basically I see this person not as our client any ways , We do have a hard job deciding vendor ethics and who we use . The client as well as us hear and see all day weather it be radio / TV / Internet/ Ebay / driving by / Etc. This is why we need to keep are ethics good and continue to educate the consumer each chance we get. As well add benefits that they cannot get from the parts store or internet.

 

Thanks Dan R.

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Basically I see this person not as our client any ways , We do have a hard job deciding vendor ethics and who we use . The client as well as us hear and see all day weather it be radio / TV / Internet/ Ebay / driving by / Etc. This is why we need to keep are ethics good and continue to educate the consumer each chance we get. As well add benefits that they cannot get from the parts store or internet.

 

Thanks Dan R.

Agreed. I define those who patronize our businesses as consumer, customers and clients. We all want clients but we deal with consumers too. And it is the consumer we should be most wary of and concerned with. They will have a far greater impact on our reputation than any of the other two.

Client = They know you, they like you. They trust you. They advocate for your or refer friends, co-workers and strangers to you. They value what you do and typically don't question your price although they may ask, "How much," just so they can budget for it. They have a broken car and know that you will take care of it for them, and trust that you have their best interests at heart. They pay the bill without question. If there is ever a question or problem you will the first person they talk to, because they know you, they trust you, they are comfortable with the thought that you care and you will make it right.

Customer = Again, They know you, they like you. They trust you. The may refer someone but typically only if they are asked. They trust that you will do what you say you will do but they don't fully trust that you won't do more than is needed. They have a broken car, they want it fixed and are willing to pay what you charge. They really don't place much value in what you do for them, it was broke, you fixed it, that's that. If there is ever a question or problem you might hear about it but more than likely they will either not bring it up but not trust you the next time they need your services or they will simply just go away.

Consumer = They have a broken car and think it is your responsibility to fix it for them. They don't really value you or your skill, your knowledge or what you do for them. They reluctantly pay what it costs to have the bare minimum fixed to get their car back on the road but nothing more. If it's not broken they won't fix it. But when it breaks it's your fault because you didn't fix it last time they were in. They consume, that's why I call them the consumer. They consume your time, your patience, your goodwill, your happiness and anything else they can get for cheap or free. But they are also the first to tell everybody else what a horrible experience they had instead of telling you, even if you did everything right but they were too cheap and distrustful to have you fix it right. It used to be we didn't need to worry about these people because the adage was, "You don't need the aggravation and the people who know them know how they are and won't trust what they say about you or are just like them and you don't want those people anyway." But with the internet today the people who listen to the consumer don't know them but they sure do trust the Yelp! review.

 

That last part is why I feel the consumer is the worst but the one we need to pay the most attention to. Because you could do everything the consumer approved, do it to the best standard possible but since they don't value what you did none of that matters. But boy, you screw up one little thing and they will sacrifice you on the altar of Google Places. And all those 5 start reviews won't mean anything. They're all plants anyway, right?

 

Now we get back to your point and the point I was trying to get to. These Diy'ers aren't our clients. They aren't even our customers, they are the consumers who visit us. You could charge $50 for a diagnostic process while everybody else charges $150 but because the consumer has been brainwashed that there is no value to it because the garbage parts stores do it for free, then you are "Ridiculously overpriced and charge for work you didn't do and for work other places do for free." What they don't reveal is you said it was $50 and might take up to an hour and you were done in 35 minutes. You charged them for 25 minutes you didn't work on their car. They also don't admit that those "other places" who do it for free are the parts stores and only read the codes, they don't do any testing. But to the consumer, the audience that these parts stores are advertising to, all we do is "Plug that thing into my car and it tells you what's wrong with the car." Just where do we think all these people get this notion from?

 

As I wrote before, it's not just the consumer or the "D" and "F" customers (consumers) who are hearing this [email protected], it's the customers and clients too. These parts stores are brainwashing the listening public to devalue our worth, our skill, our labor, our industry. And some shops reward that effort by putting their hard-earned money in the marketing budget of these corporate entities by buying parts from them. If a shop owner doesn't think that Advance Auto Parts doesn't take profits from WorldPAC to market AAP stores then they deserve what AAP is doing to us. It's just the rest of us who don't deserve to have our hard work and professional, ethical efforts devalued like this.

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On 11/7/2016 at 2:46 PM, Wheelingauto said:

My argument Is I dont think Joe should be focused on stirring up the masses to get a response that will not do any of us good. Whining about what AAP is doing is like whining about what the national auto chains are doing with all the low priced based offers (or free) which do not align with out viewpoints.

 

You might want to write about AAA too!!! look at what they are doing!

 

In selecting a vendor I am looking for an entity who can supply me with quality parts, give me great delivery and who will stand behind it when needed. Since WP and other vendors can do that I purchase from them. I do not purchase from the AAP AZ and the like because they sell crap. The more they do stuff for free the less I have to deal with those that believe it is/should be free.

 

I can then focus on my customers and their needs.

 

I don't normally get involved when people take sides in the forum. I rather let everyone voice their opinion in an honest and open discussion.

But in this case I will make an exception.

 

Sometimes I create posts that I feel are controversial. I fully know that there will be people on both sides. People are free to chose and free to write about their personal opinions. That is the purpose of the forums and why I co-founded ASO. I do not consider my post complaining, but conveying the feelings of many shop owners that have personally expressed those feelings to me.

 

I also try to come up discussions that may impact us in a negative or positive way. While I don't agree with the marketing of Advance, I do understand why they do it. I also understand why Advance needs a certain amount of the DIY trade. But the bigger picture is how the marketing strategy and the business model affects the future of shop owners. For these reasons, I felt that this would make a good post. And judging from all the additional posts and controversy, I know that I was right.

 

So, please express your opinions, agree or don't agree. That's ok. But, please, let's keep it civil and professional. After all, we are all in this together. My goal...our goal...is to raise the bar and improve the image of the auto repair industry.

 

Thank you for all the great comments, now let's keep the discussion going!

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I agree Joe. I know you said not to say it, but they likely aren't your target customer (in the beginning). However, I think their might be an opportunity to turn them into your customer.Maybe you could handle the situation by doing your best to teach and show the customer why it is in their best interest to bring their car to you first, instead of heading to the parts store to try to save a buck. If you can empathize with the customer's frustration of lost time and money, you may be able to convince them to make you their first call next time they need anything automotive related. Hopefully they can walk away realizing that auto shops aren't out to get their money, but instead only trying to offer a trouble-free vehicle ownership experience. Sure that means spending a little more money, but they know when they get their keys back, it's fixed right and they can have peace of mind.

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what gets me is it does not matter where you buy your parts from if the consumer/customer can buy from the same place nine times out of ten they can buy the part for the same price or a few dollars more.

so where is the real savings to the shop buying from these suppliers ?

oh if I buy 2,000.00 or more a week from AAP I get an extra percentage off but I have to maintain that 2,000.00 or more a week to get it .

so I guess what we are suppose to do is sell the part at cost and jack up labor?

I do not go for the cheap parts they never last I prefer to spend a little more and get the parts that will last or at least they can be greased.

I think there should be a definite price gap between what we pay and what the customer at the same place walks in and pays.

I agree with Joe  

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1 hour ago, Custom Coach said:

what gets me is it does not matter where you buy your parts from if the consumer/customer can buy from the same place nine times out of ten they can buy the part for the same price or a few dollars more.

so where is the real savings to the shop buying from these suppliers ?

oh if I buy 2,000.00 or more a week from AAP I get an extra percentage off but I have to maintain that 2,000.00 or more a week to get it .

so I guess what we are suppose to do is sell the part at cost and jack up labor?

I do not go for the cheap parts they never last I prefer to spend a little more and get the parts that will last or at least they can be greased.

I think there should be a definite price gap between what we pay and what the customer at the same place walks in and pays.

I agree with Joe  

You make a good point about labor.  I am not suggesting that we charge whatever labor you want, but our labor is where our money is made, and we need to make sure that we are labor profitable. 

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Autozone, Carquest (which is now Advance) do the same thing, Oreileys loans tools i believe but dont do the check engine scan anymore that im aware of. Point is, they are all doing it.  I know allot of you wont like me for this but we allow people to bring their own parts, to a point, as i would rather get something out of it rather than nothing out of it and as Joe pointed out, the labor is where the money is made.

 

In your case Joe, we tell the customer up front there is a 1/2 hour front end inspection charge if during the course of an alignment we find loose or worn out parts and they decline the repairs here.  Then when they come back we get the alignment charge as well. This way we arent doing free front end checks for the do it themselfers. (kinda of the topic but wasnt sure if you did this or not).

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13 minutes ago, lmcca said:

Autozone, Carquest (which is now Advance) do the same thing, Oreileys loans tools i believe but dont do the check engine scan anymore that im aware of. Point is, they are all doing it.  I know allot of you wont like me for this but we allow people to bring their own parts, to a point, as i would rather get something out of it rather than nothing out of it and as Joe pointed out, the labor is where the money is made.

 

In your case Joe, we tell the customer up front there is a 1/2 hour front end inspection charge if during the course of an alignment we find loose or worn out parts and they decline the repairs here.  Then when they come back we get the alignment charge as well. This way we arent doing free front end checks for the do it themselfers. (kinda of the topic but wasnt sure if you did this or not).

We work very similar. The point here is to ensure we get our labor.  We all worry about part margins, which is totally understandable, but the biggest bang for the buck is labor profit.  

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In a perfect world we would only charge for our labor with a minimal parts margin. The reason we need to supply parts is because we know the ones that will last VS the cheap crap in the marketplace. Unfortunately we have been artificially suppressing our labor rates with parts margin for all of eternity or as long as I can remember. The problem with changing now is the increase in labor charges would be noticed, compared and judged. It would require a lot of educating and some dont want to learn.

If your customers are checking parts prices often you either are catering to the wrong crowd or not providing enough value in your services. If you feel I am wrong on either point, drop your parts margin to 10% (covers warranty costs) and raise you margins on labor by charging more and appropriately. There are a select few who do business this way and I envy them because I dont have the guts to make that change. But if you do that, the same people will bitch about the labor charges now......

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10 hours ago, Wheelingauto said:

In a perfect world we would only charge for our labor with a minimal parts margin. The reason we need to supply parts is because we know the ones that will last VS the cheap crap in the marketplace. Unfortunately we have been artificially suppressing our labor rates with parts margin for all of eternity or as long as I can remember. The problem with changing now is the increase in labor charges would be noticed, compared and judged. It would require a lot of educating and some dont want to learn.

If your customers are checking parts prices often you either are catering to the wrong crowd or not providing enough value in your services. If you feel I am wrong on either point, drop your parts margin to 10% (covers warranty costs) and raise you margins on labor by charging more and appropriately. There are a select few who do business this way and I envy them because I dont have the guts to make that change. But if you do that, the same people will bitch about the labor charges now......

I agree. Joe's customer was looking to cut not only the cost of parts, but labor too. He could have given him the ball joints at cost and bumped the labor to make up for it, and the customer would have still DIY'd the thing. If that weren't the case, he would have tried to get Joe to install ball joints that he bought at AAP. The customer will eventually learn his lesson, or he'll be broke all his life paying for repairs (and not just auto repair) twice. Move along and serve the next customer who's willing to pay for your service.

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9 hours ago, AndersonAuto said:

The customer will eventually learn his lesson, or he'll be broke all his life paying for repairs (and not just auto repair) twice. Move along and serve the next customer who's willing to pay for your service.

  That's just the thing there are more and more customers who think they can do it themselves because of places like AutoZone, AAP , Oreilly, ECT ECT and lets not forget the YouTube pros that make everything look so easy (if it only was that easy).

So just saying move along and serve the next customer wont fly unless you have a never ending supply of new customers daily.

Not to get off subject a little but I read on another thread where a man was told if he had a part for $ 100.00 his cost to tell the customer it was $ 200.00 and so on marking up the parts 100% how is this possible when people can go to these parts stores and get the exact same part and brand for a little more than what we are paying?

its almost a daily struggle to convince some people anymore that you do know a hell of a lot more than Joe behind the counter poking buttons on a computer or reading them the generic code scan list of what's wrong with their car.

It seems like everything Automotive anymore is geared to removing ( ALL MECHANICS ) from the equation of working on cars and everything can be DIY.

Its like watching these shows on TV where they restore a house or a classic car in a week or less we all know this cant be done with the 2-6 people working on them but what they don't show you is the crew of 20-30 people who are really doing the job when the cameras are off.

These parts stores can advertise a lot of easy DIY stuff but they should also inform the customer that not everything they sell can be done without a true mechanic.

I myself have had people bring in their own parts 99% of the time they end up being the wrong parts or if they are the right ones I inform them I am not responsible if their part fails I stand behind my instillation but not behind these cheaply made parts that look like they wont last out of the box.  

 

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48 minutes ago, Custom Coach said:

 

  That's just the thing there are more and more customers who think they can do it themselves because of places like AutoZone, AAP , Oreilly, ECT ECT and lets not forget the YouTube pros that make everything look so easy (if it only was that easy).

So just saying move along and serve the next customer wont fly unless you have a never ending supply of new customers daily.

Not to get off subject a little but I read on another thread where a man was told if he had a part for $ 100.00 his cost to tell the customer it was $ 200.00 and so on marking up the parts 100% how is this possible when people can go to these parts stores and get the exact same part and brand for a little more than what we are paying?

its almost a daily struggle to convince some people anymore that you do know a hell of a lot more than Joe behind the counter poking buttons on a computer or reading them the generic code scan list of what's wrong with their car.

It seems like everything Automotive anymore is geared to removing ( ALL MECHANICS ) from the equation of working on cars and everything can be DIY.

Its like watching these shows on TV where they restore a house or a classic car in a week or less we all know this cant be done with the 2-6 people working on them but what they don't show you is the crew of 20-30 people who are really doing the job when the cameras are off.

These parts stores can advertise a lot of easy DIY stuff but they should also inform the customer that not everything they sell can be done without a true mechanic.

I myself have had people bring in their own parts 99% of the time they end up being the wrong parts or if they are the right ones I inform them I am not responsible if their part fails I stand behind my instillation but not behind these cheaply made parts that look like they wont last out of the box.  

 

Custom, might I suggest one of two things. One, seek and attend some management training. Somehow, someway someone needs to get you to focus on what you can do not what you cant. You can focus on customers who value what you do, you can provide them with outstanding value and get them to tell others how great you are. Charge what you need to in order to be profitable and go to work and have fun everyday. Stop blaming parts stores for industry woes. I think you will find some very busy, profitable businesses represented here...so it is possible to have a thriving business even with parts stores doing what they are.

The negativity you bring to these posts are affecting you every day whether you know it or not. This type of negativity weeds itself into every action and interaction you have. You can approach what could be a profitable interaction and turn it negative. Kind of a self fulfilling prophecy. stop, focus on good customers and what you can do. To all the others, stop conversing with them. No, I cant do that because it is not profitable for the business.

-or-

Dont. Lock up, go home. If things are so bad that you cant be successful recognize this and stop. Life is too short to be in a constant fight for survival. Move, find somewhere you can be successful and thrive.

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1 hour ago, Custom Coach said:

  Not to get off subject a little but I read on another thread where a man was told if he had a part for $ 100.00 his cost to tell the customer it was $ 200.00 and so on marking up the parts 100% how is this possible when people can go to these parts stores and get the exact same part and brand for a little more than what we are paying? 

 

You'll read that on a lot of the threads here that deal with parts pricing. Most of the successful guys on this forum are using a matrix that is set up to earn 50% GP [100% markup] average on their parts sales. Using our matrix a part that cost $100.00 would retail for $204.08.  We rarely get any push back on parts pricing.

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4 hours ago, Custom Coach said:

Not to get off subject a little but I read on another thread where a man was told if he had a part for $ 100.00 his cost to tell the customer it was $ 200.00 and so on marking up the parts 100% how is this possible when people can go to these parts stores and get the exact same part and brand for a little more than what we are paying?

Tyrguy beat me to it.

My parts margin for the month is 55.58%. That's cost times 2.25 on average.

If you're having a hard time getting 50% parts GP, or have no idea how it's even possible, you need to have a serious look at some management and advisor training. It's an important piece of the puzzle in keeping the lights on. 

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This is how I look at it, you can buy a steak at the grocery store for $10.  But if you go to a restaurant it's $40, cooked, served, and cleaned up afterwards.  

Same in this industry.

It's $100 for a part at Advance or O'Reilly's; but at my shop it's $400 installed, delivered, and clean up afterwards.

We rarely have a customer complain about our parts prices, but sometimes if they seem hesitant or their husband is "going to do it this weekend" I'll just say, "sometimes my wife orders pizza because it's easy.  It's more expensive but it's easy.  Same here.  It's okay to order a have your car repaired  sometimes."  They almost always buy the repair when I say that.

In the big picture it comes down to how you demonstrate value.  If you can't show or communicate to the customer that what you're providing is worth more than what you're charging then you are going to have a hard time.  If you can show/communicate that then nobody will complain.  That's the difference.  Communication.

The best shops have a system for communicating from front to back so the customer feels they get more than they pay for.  It really is that simple.  Learning the communication and building a system is the time-consuming part.  But as someone else mentioned there are trainings that can accelerate that.

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2 hours ago, jfuhrmad said:

...sometimes if they seem hesitant or their husband is "going to do it this weekend" I'll just say, "sometimes my wife orders pizza because it's easy.  It's more expensive but it's easy.

LOVE IT!!!!

 

I'll also have to try and remember that line and your follow-up, " It's okay to order a "have your car repaired"  sometimes.

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Glad you love it!  See, it's how you communicate and what you communicate.  We don't have to be pushy or argumentative.  How we communicate changes how our customers perceive what they are getting.  That is not even what I'd call the tip of the iceberg when it comes to communication.  I know there is far more to learn and I'm on that journey, but as you can see in my example, explaining the value works wonders.

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38 minutes ago, jfuhrmad said:

Glad you love it!  See, it's how you communicate and what you communicate.  We don't have to be pushy or argumentative.  How we communicate changes how our customers perceive what they are getting.  That is not even what I'd call the tip of the iceberg when it comes to communication.  I know there is far more to learn and I'm on that journey, but as you can see in my example, explaining the value works wonders.

I do have to say, you are right, there is a lot to communicate and your example, while wonderful is only valid and will only work in certain circumstances.  Not always are our customers going to understand much less agree that value comes from the convenience we provide them when it comes to having their vehicles maintenance or repairs performed.  I liken it to a tool.  We all have our favorite tools.  We all have hammers, we all have pliers, but not everything is a nail to be pounded or a spring clamp to be squeezed or an opportunity to use our favorite tools.  How many different kinds of wrenches do you have?  I know if you don't count SAE and Metric as two I have over 8 different kinds of wrenches.  From flare nut, to combination to stubby to ratcheting, etc.  They all do the same thing, right?  Only each and every one does something the others don't, or they do it better.  Likewise with communications.  Good for you to keep learning how to communicate with your customers better.  I try but I fear I am not doing enough.  Ways to communicate are like tools, there are many different ones and each is better for a certain task then others.  I think I pick up a sledge hammer when a 4oz. tap hammer would do better sometimes.  But I'm trying to improve my selection.  Thank you for giving me another "tool" in my communications toolbox.

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Helping the DIYer is their marketing strategy for one reason and one reason alone, they don't need to market to us at all. They have the supply, we have the demand. What's the point in heavily marketing to someone who's already a captive audience? We are their bottom line, their bread and butter.

Guess who I buy parts from... Just take a guess... If you guessed the supplier who can get me a quality the part in the quickest amount of time, you'd be 100% correct. Take politics out of the equation. It's a losing battle and it's pointless to argue about.

And if it weren't for the parts houses loaning out tools, I wouldn't be where I am today. For better or worse... ;) And my brother, who's an excellent parts changer but has never worked in a shop and couldn't afford to get his car fixed in one if his life depended on it, would be out a car and unable to make it to his actual job.

The DIYer is always going to be there. The DIYer is what every single one of us was before deciding we wanted to make a career out of this crap. If a few random people doing their own work is seriously hurting your bottom line, your bottom line was too thin in the first place.

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On ‎7‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 10:33 AM, Travis Alsgard said:

Helping the DIYer is their marketing strategy for one reason and one reason alone, they don't need to market to us at all. They have the supply, we have the demand. What's the point in heavily marketing to someone who's already a captive audience? We are their bottom line, their bread and butter.

Guess who I buy parts from... Just take a guess... If you guessed the supplier who can get me a quality the part in the quickest amount of time, you'd be 100% correct. Take politics out of the equation. It's a losing battle and it's pointless to argue about.

And if it weren't for the parts houses loaning out tools, I wouldn't be where I am today. For better or worse... ;) And my brother, who's an excellent parts changer but has never worked in a shop and couldn't afford to get his car fixed in one if his life depended on it, would be out a car and unable to make it to his actual job.

The DIYer is always going to be there. The DIYer is what every single one of us was before deciding we wanted to make a career out of this crap. If a few random people doing their own work is seriously hurting your bottom line, your bottom line was too thin in the first place.

You make excellent and valid points. I think what upsets a lot of shop owners is the marketing strategy and advertising that undermines the professional. For example, I listen to a sports radio station on my way home at night.  And on that station, three different auto parts stores advertise to the DIY market, which is ok. What's not ok is the message that they can help and save money, so why spend your money at the repair shop. 

There will always be the DIYer, I agree.  There will always be the Home Depot market too, where home owners tackle home improvement. I think the issue is more about pride and our image than anything.

I hope I am making sense here?

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Joe

I see your points and 99.9 percent is on the money.

I have been commented to that I bring negativity with me when I post.

NO its not negativity that you are reading its a very small shop owner speaking his mind over current concerns with multi million dollar marketing geared to crush the little guy just like Wal-Mart has done to mom and pop stores that were doing just fine or even great till they came to the local area.

Most of the smaller places lost out and had to close because they could not compete with radically low prices and massive quantities on hand.

My town has 35,000 plus residence we now have a booming motor sports college I was doing just fine never a worry about income but when you throw in your regular competition and now almost every kid going to this college opening un licensed back yard shops and throw on top of it all the parts houses now promoting DIY it (SOMETIMES) gets to be a struggle.

I took over my dads shop in 2008 after working beside him since I was 2 I am not a novice at this I know what needs done to keep the lights on and I love what I do!

But a little help from parts suppliers could go a long way to help the very small shops (4 people and less) and to get their discount many times requires you to spend 2,000 or more a month just to get a 5% discount sometimes that's hard to do month to month when your fighting competition, college kids, and parts suppliers.

negative no but just concerns from small shop owners     

 

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On 7/13/2017 at 10:33 AM, Travis Alsgard said:

Guess who I buy parts from... Just take a guess... If you guessed the supplier who can get me a quality the part in the quickest amount of time, you'd be 100% correct. Take politics out of the equation. It's a losing battle and it's pointless to argue about.

So you admit that you are part of the problem?  That the ONLY that matters is your convenience, your profit, your whims and desires?  Everything for you and NOTHING for the whole? 

I read a great deal of selfishness in your post where you only care about you, your situation and how you benefited but you don’t understand how the places that you support are really in effect working against you, not WITH you. 

That is not to say that what you wrote isn’t without merit or truth.  You are 100% correct, we have the demand, and the DIYer market will always be there.  However, that does not mean the discount [email protected] parts stores have to aggressively undermine our professionalism and ability.  Do you know how the consumer sees our “diagnostic fees?”  They see them as a rip-off simply because the “discount” parts houses tell them that diagnosing your problem is as simple and easy as plugging in their code reader.  The guy behind the parts counter wants to feel important and capable and “diagnoses” the problem for them.  Are they right sometimes, sure.  But does the customer see the value in a professional diagnosis when the first 3 parts didn’t fix the problem?  NO!  And since they bought all those parts they don’t need, they don’t have any money to pay you to properly diagnose their problem. 

Many of us were DIYers before we entered the profession that is true.  But the difference is, we have the ability, the skill, the knowledge and the aptitude.  What about the cell-phone sales guy who does his girlfriend’s brakes but then has to hire you to fix his “repairs?” (real life example)   What if he made a different mistake that caused the brakes to fail and his girlfriend plowed into your family’s car? 

My point is, just because anybody can do a pad slap because it’s as easy and taking the caliper bolts out and pounding the new pads into the brackets doesn’t mean they should because there is a lot more to the brake job that they don’t know or care.  The difference is we took the time, the care and the pride to become capable and competent.  We took the time to become “experts” in our trade.  The average DIYer is taking advice from a minimum wage I think I’m a mechanic retail sales worker punching buttons behind the counter.  They don’t have the knowledge or the tools or the information to do the job right.  They have the advice of someone who does what they do because they can’t do what they think they do.  If they were mechanics, the DIY parts sales people would BE mechanics, not computer operators looking up car parts.  Now that does not mean that the guy behind the counter doesn't have a "day job" but if they were good would they need the second job?  I knew a guy who worked days as a forklift mechanic and worked at AAP at night.  Why?  Because he was a recent trade school graduate still repaying his "company paid" tuition.  In exchange for the company paying his school costs he had to work essentially as an indentured servant, >$2.00 less an hour for like 4 years.   But he was a forklift mechanic, an "Industrial Material Handling Equipment Maintenance And Repair Technician," not an automotive repair technician.

The DIYer stores portray their sales people as experts when they are not.  And they market their “expert” service as “Free of charge” building in the consumers mind that we are not worth our professional fees.  So go ahead, stab your profession in the back and support those who are actively and aggressively working to devalue what we do.  That is not to say that any of us think that the “discount” parts houses shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t loan tools, shouldn’t sell parts or shouldn’t market.  It is to say that they could market in a way that does not hurt their biggest customer, the independent repair market.  It is to say that by refusing to buy from those who market AGAINST us you could help send the message that we are not happy with their harmful tactics and until they treat US with respect we will NOT support them.  The DIY market won't go away.  The DIY market isn't our customer base.  So the [email protected] parts stores can market to the DIYer and not harm our reputations and degrade our customer base or devalue our professional competent services.  They just chose not to. 

You say you buy from the place that delivers to you the fastest.  Ever wonder why the slower sources don’t make you a higher priority?  Could it be because you work against them not WITH them?

 

Hopefully the long-term damage from your short sightedness doesn't come around to bite whomever you pass you shop on to.  Assuming the active attempts at destruction by those who you support doesn't do you in first.  I hope you can see how supporting those who work against our profession isn't professional at all.  It may seem profitable in the short term but in the long run, you are only hastening our ruin. 

 

 

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I have been at this as an independent now for 15+ years, in the trade over 25. I wanted to align myself with a "banner" program that would promote my business AND serve my customers. NAPA was priced out of my budget. federated worked ok till there was a warranty issue. After 2 years of not being paid to replace their sub quality parts I went with TECHNET (Carquest/Advance). I hate writing a check to advance but the program works well for me and my customers. Haven't had any problems to speak of with the quality, most still come in Carquest boxes. Rep is always available for any problems I have. Their delivery times and inventory are great. I get regular referrals from them because not everyone that thinks they are a DIY person can really handle the job. I feel to this point it has been a win win for all.

Now am I a bad business owner for aligning myself with someone that will help me AND my clients...I dont think so. 

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I have always used some Carquest starters and alternators.  We have experienced a high failure rate recently and have concluded that we will not use those again. 

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Always have to tell the customer that came into a shop that just went and had his car scanned (at a parts store nothing against the parts company) . They said I have a code XYZ and I would kindly tell them before they said it, Its got a missfire or a O2 sensor that needs replaced YEP that what they said LOL. I think there scanner has a set numbers of codes in it. I have seen this many many times in shops and then you have to explain to them that you don't want to hang parts and wish for a fix and now you got to get dia time out of something that they thought should be free to find the real problem and save the customer money from hanging hundreds of dollars in parts and still not fixed. But this issue can be solved quick and easy .

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