The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition today announced it has turned in 102,000 signatures to ensure an initiative petition to enact an update to the Commonwealth’s Right to Repair law before it reaches the 2020 ballot. The Coalition – a group of Massachusetts independent repair shops, auto parts stores, trade associations, consumers, and drivers – said that a lack of progress on an update to the law in the Legislature led them to pursue an initiative petition so that Massachusetts car owners will continue to have access to the repair and diagnostic mechanical information produced by the vehicle they own.
By 2020, advancements in vehicle technology and increasing restrictions by automakers will result in more than 90% of new cars being equipped to transmit real-time diagnostic and repair information wirelessly to vehicle manufacturers, which could threatening Massachusetts consumers’ rights to choose to get their cars fixed at trusted independent repair shops or do the work themselves.
The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition supports bipartisan legislation filed in January by 12 State Representatives and two State Senators to update the Commonwealth’s Right to Repair law. The bills generated 55 co-sponsors, and if the bill is enacted into law by the legislature in 2020 it would eliminate the need for the ballot question to proceed.
“We need to update the Right to Repair law before wireless technologies remove the car owner’s right to get their vehicle repaired at our local, independent shop because the automaker would rather steer them toward one of their more expensive dealers,” said Alan Saks of Dorchester Tire Service. “This is a common-sense reform and we’d love to see the Legislature move forward and fix it so that we don’t have to go to the ballot to protect consumers’ rights to shop around for car repairs.”
Said Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition Director Tommy Hickey, “Independent repair shops across Massachusetts are proud to reach this milestone of more than 100,000 signatures. Our independent shops are increasingly facing the prospect of having limited or no access to diagnostic and repair information now that automakers are restricting access through rapidly expanding wireless technologies in vehicles not covered under current law.”
The ballot initiative would give car owners access only to the diagnostic and repair data generated by their car, and they could opt to provide access to any dealer, repair shop, or automaker that they choose during the lifetime of their car.
The Coalition delivered its signatures to Secretary of State William Galvin’s office on Tuesday and Wednesday. The initiative petition filed is entitled An Initiative Law to Enhance, Update and Protect the 2013 Motor Vehicle Right to Repair Law. The key provision of the initiative is as follows:
Commencing in model year 2022 and thereafter a manufacturer of motor vehicles sold in the Commonwealth, including heavy duty vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 14,000 pounds, that utilizes a telematics system shall be required to equip such vehicles with an inter-operable, standardized and open access platform across all of the manufacturer’s makes and models. Such platform shall be capable of securely communicating all mechanical data emanating directly from the motor vehicle via direct data connection to the platform. Such platform shall be directly accessible by the owner of the vehicle through a mobile-based application and, upon the authorization of the vehicle owner, all mechanical data shall be directly accessible by an independent repair facility or a class 1 dealer licensed pursuant to section 58 of chapter 140 limited to the time to complete the repair or for a period of time agreed to by the vehicle owner for the purposes of maintaining, diagnosing and repairing the motor vehicle. Access shall include the ability to send commands to in-vehicle components if needed for purposes of maintenance, diagnostics and repair.
The Massachusetts Right to Repair Coalition now has more than 4,000 members statewide. In addition to independent repair shops and Massachusetts auto parts stores, members of the Coalition include the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Massachusetts (AASP-MA) and the New England Tire and Service Association (NETSA). Further information may be found at massrighttorepair.org
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By Joe Marconi
There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, “The footsteps of the farmer are his best fertilizer.” In translation, this means that the closer you are to your crops and animals, the easier it is to observe and respond to their needs. Business owners, just as farmers, have a sixth sense about what’s happening within their company. And, for the most part, business owners are the driving force behind the success of their companies. And it’s not always because of any particular training. Many times, the mere fact that the buck stops with you gives you the mental fortitude to push forward and find solutions to daily problems. Your gut evolves into a very valuable management and survival tool.
The majority of business owners created their business with a dream and the passion to make a difference in their lives and in the automotive industry. They clearly understand the sacrifices that are needed to get a new business off the ground, and also the years of dedication it takes to reach a point where the business becomes financially stable. But, running a business takes its toll on even the toughest person, and time away from business becomes equally important. So, the question becomes, can you build your business to the point where your presence still remains when you’re away?
Before I go on, I want you to consider something—and that’s your future. I know that many of you have a young company and plan on working for decades to come. But life goes by quickly and it can also throw you a curveball. Please take my advice with this; if you’re a business owner and you are not planning for your future, you are making a big mistake. I know too many shop owners that were forced to walk away from their businesses after decades of work with nothing more than memories. Their dreams turned into nightmares due to lack of planning. Sit down and write out what your future looks like. You will probably need help with this, but you need to think about a continuity plan and an exit strategy.
OK, I got that out of the way; now back to the article. Here’s the bottom line. Taking time off and having your business run smoothly without you there should be one of your key goals. But the truth is, many shop owners can’t let go. They find it hard to take any time off, let alone leaving their baby in the hands of a manager or another key person. They even feel guilty when they’re away. And there are others who realize that in order to have a fulfilling life, the only way to continue the business is to step aside and stay away.
I don’t know what type of person you are. But what I do know with certainty after nearly 40 years in business is that, for the sake of your health and for the well-being of your family, you need to create a business that allows you the freedom to take time off. And that starts with hiring and keeping the right people; people that share your culture and work ethic. Free time away from the business also requires that you understand your numbers, can generate a consistent profit and establish strategies to continually grow the business.
Achieving your goal of taking more time off is more dependent on what you create than the actual work you do. Create a culture where people come to work because they want to. Create a management style that allows you to reach out to your employees and help them achieve the things they want out of life. Create a work environment where the people you employ feel they are part of a unified vision where everyone will enjoy the fruits of their labor. Lastly, create strong relationships with all your employees from the very first day they are hired. Building this culture will help to ensure that your employees will perform the same each day, whether you are there or not.
I know for many it will be hard to let go. After all, your business is your baby, right? You founded it; you worked hard for years and dedicated your life to it. But, every baby grows up and becomes an adult. And adults should become self-sufficient. If you build the right team with the right culture, you will gain the confidence that the people you employ can do an amazing job in your absence.
This story was originally published by Joe Marconi in Ratchet+Wrench on September 5th, 2019
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