By Joe Marconi
This post in a follow up from a post I made a few weeks ago directed to part companies about the part quality issues we are experiencing in our industry. As I stated in the post, this is an industry problem and we cannot put blame on one part supplier. The purpose of that post was to attract attention from part companies.
I have received calls from reps from a few part companies. They explained their view on the part quality issue. CARQUEST and Cardone came forward to take the time to speak with me. And to be fair and balanced, I think that we need to address the entire issue. There are always two sides to any situation.
Although there are many shop owners that want to sell quality and care about reputation, there are shops that only care about price.
I dont really know how this started, but for years now we have entered into this race to bottom with respect to price and is part of the blame the shop owners that put too much emphasis on price alone? And to make matters worse, this reduction in prices has eroded the profit margins of part companies, suppliers and shops too. In the end, we all suffer.
So the question is; do we really want cheaper part from CARQUEST, Advance, NAPA, OReillys, AutoZone and other part companies, knowing that low prices may also affect the quality of the parts we install in our customers and familys cars?
We are now in a situation where there are no real solutions. Too much of what we sell comes from countries where labor is cheap and accountability hard to monitor. I dont know have all the answers, but I do know that putting all blame and responsibility on the backs of the part companies is not the answer.
Perhaps we all need to take a long hard look in the mirror.
By Joe Marconi
This past week we installed a set of brake rotors and pads on dual rear wheel, 2005 F550 Dump. Those of you that have done this job know that this it is considerably more work than a passenger car. On the road test we heard a scraping noise from the wheels. It would come and go and sometimes even go away when you applied the brakes. After numerous times pulling the brake rotors off (which is very time consuming) we could not understand what was happening.
We did see marks on the backing plate where we believed the inside of the rotor was hitting. We decided to call the supplier and order another set of rotors. We installed the new rotors and the noise was still there, but different. Again we removed the rear brakes and rotors to take a look.
We tried repositioning the backing plate, but no luck. I could see my techs and manager was getting frustrated. I told my manager to order a set of pads and rotors from the local Ford dealer.
We installed the Ford parts and the noise was gone! The back of the aftermarket rotors were not the same quality as the Ford Rotors.
I am not going to say what aftermarket part company I bought these parts from, because I feel the quality of parts these days is an industry problem, not isolated to just one company. But I do have a personal message: NAPA, CARQUEST, Advance, O’Reilly’s, AutoZone and all the rest…Wake up!
This race to the bottom supplying us with cheaper and cheaper parts needs to stop. It is killing us. In your effort to give us a cheaper part, you are compromising quality. You can have cheap parts or quality parts, but not both. Choose one!
It’s not just one part line; the problem of poor quality is rampant.
The automotive aftermarket repair shop was always known for its quality. Now we are in jeopardy of losing that status. If the consumer’s perception of aftermarket is subpar with new car dealers, this will be our demise.
I urge shop owners to also take a long hard look at this issue too. If we focus on cheap part prices only, the race to the bottom will be littered with casualties.
PS: I have heard all the arguments: overseas cheap labor, competition from China, the unions in the USA, shop owners want cheap parts, if we don't have cheap parts we will loose business, our margins are thin as it is, we are forced to go to foreign countries. DID I FORGET ANY???
All these excuses will not amount to anything when we fail as an industry.
Hey I,m going to be setting up shop here in the next month I Have all 3 stores with in 2 miles of me.Also have Valvoline contacting me.I want to be competive and offer quality parts with my repairs.I would like to minimize come backs especally for part failures I need to biuld my reputation up quick and good.So if any body had sugestions on which store are best or if a particular line/brand you like ?And what about bulk items like oil chemicals oil fitlers? Thanks