Auto Service World
News   April 13, 2023   by Adam Malik

CARS Executive Outlook 2023: John O’Dowd

CARS reached out to leaders in the automotive repair and service sector of the automotive aftermarket to ask them about their thoughts about the industry over the next 12 months: How will this year be different, what will drive change and what will be the biggest challenge. We will present their answers in alphabetical order over the coming weeks…

You can view the full feature in the February 2023 issue.

John O’Dowd, Vice President, Marketing, NAPA Auto Parts

I don’t think the opportunities will change very much from recent years. We’ll see shop visits increase slightly as the used car market seems to be growing right now. Although we’ve seen the value of used cars kind of diminish a bit over the last few months, I think it’s going to stabilize itself quickly. People are going to maintain their cars more because they’re going to keep them longer. This is going to drive business to shops.

We feel that shop count will be reduced over time simply because of demographics. There will be more retirements than openings of new shops, therefore, it’s going to be a good position for consolidations. I suspect that we’re going to see the bigger players consolidate into groups and banners.

Technology will be the biggest driver of change. It’s two-fold. First, there are hybrid electric and battery-electric vehicles that shops need to take into consideration and be prepared for. And it’s not only technicians, but it’s also service advisors who need to be trained. Second, we need to have our shops use the web and social media more, and new ways of communicating with customers to maintain relationships.

Inflation was and will likely remain a challenge for everyone. Cost of materials for parts has increased substantially. Availability of labour is a big challenge. How do you attract top talent? It’s becoming more and more difficult to recruit. We need to have the best programs and the best training out there.

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