Canadian independent service providers were told at CarFix World they will face new challenges in the next few years as the makeup of the kinds of vehicles hitting Canadian roads changes.
Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. in Toronto, told CarFix World attendees over the three-day event in late September that North American automotive manufactures are quickly moving to abandon their old vehicle platforms in order to get new products out into the market faster and stay abreast of the Japanese competition.
According to DesRosiers, Japanese car makers do not keep vehicles that have technology over nine years old on the market. They quickly move to new technologies and designs, meaning independent service shops have to continually upgrade skills and technician knowledge to stay abreast of these changes and to stay profitable.
The aftermarket did better with the Big Three North American automotive players as they tended to use older and established technologies in their new vehicles.
“So it was not hard for a technician to get up to speed and to repair North American vehicles pretty quickly and remain profitable,” DesRosiers said.
But with the erosion of the market share for the North American car makers, the move is now to copy the Japanese model and roll out products that are new from the ground up.
This means service providers cannot rely on the revenue from repairing North American vehicles based on older technologies. They will now have to invest in new skills training, diagnostic equipment and tools on these cars if the want to remain profitable. And they will have to upgrade those tools and skills more often than before.
“Our guys have to understand that knowledge is going to very important,” said Bob Greenwood, president and CEO of E.K. Williams & Co. “You are not just going to be running a garage. You are going to be running a professional operation, and if you are not in tune with that knowledge, how are you going to run your business and make any money?”
Greenwood added service shops will only remain profitable if the emphasis is placed on service and building strong relationships with customers, while keeping the technicians abreast of the latest technologies and vehicle knowledge.
“If you try to conduct your affairs like a 500-chain store, that is going to be a big mistake,” Greenwood continued.
Some 2,600 students, some as far away as Kingston and Windsor, attended the Career Day opening of CarFix World. Brampton, Ont.-based St. Edmund Campion Catholic Secondary School was represented by 178 students, and won the Lexus vehicle offered by Toyota Canada to the school with the most students at the show. Two students from Central Technical School (Toronto) won the Pit Stop Challenge.