Auto Service World
Feature   May 9, 2020   by Bob Greenwood

Getting through the disruption

By Bob Greenwood, AMAM

A massive aftermarket disruption is well underway. Your business will be dramatically affected this year by what the shops you sell to are going through.

Shop owners who can see the prevailing trendlines are paying very close attention to the changes that are sweeping through our industry. They know that to ignore those changes is to risk commercial failure.

Are you also paying attention to the changes?

The ongoing disruption will gain steam as a “new aftermarket” emerges. Every jobber must understand how it will affect their business.

Here are some of the biggest topics to think about as you prepare for the next 12 months.


Telematics will continue to grow, especially in the fleet business. It gives fleet managers key data on every vehicle in their stable, assisting them in scheduling critical maintenance to hit their safety, reliability, and efficiency targets. The ultimate goal, of course, is to save the company money. Are your shop clients looking after their fleet clients professionally? Open a discussion with shop owners. They need to examine their relationships with existing fleet clients, and develop strategies to attract prospective clients. This starts with truly understanding the value they bring to fleets. Are you, as a parts supplier, on top of the telematics factor?

Ride sharing

Ride sharing and advance vehicle service requirements will continue to grow in 2020. What does this mean to your client shops? Plenty! The share of consumer business they get will soon start to shrink. The default client base is about to morph toward more light-duty commercial fleets. Your clients need to prepare for this change, creating new partnerships with ride-sharing companies to replace the shrinking base of consumer business?

Data ownership

The question of who owns the data generated by increasingly connected vehicles will be a key fight for service providers. The question is bound to heat up in 2020. The aftermarket must do a better job of educating consumers about the value of their data. Shops that engage their clients on this topic report that very few car owners truly understand how much data is generated by modern vehicles, nor how much of it the carmaker is able to read. The aftermarket must have access to this information as well. It is the consumer that should be giving data privileges to their preferred service provider. More than ever before, motorists need expert counsel on vehicle maintenance. This starts with granting their service partner permission to tap into their data stream.

Service information

Access to vehicle data will heat up more in 2020, as new software hits North American vehicles. Where are your client shops getting the information you need? Are they up to date on how to reflash a vehicle? Do they understand the value of relying on the National Automotive Service Information Task Force (NASTF) for repair information? Do they know how to navigate the NASTF website? This is a great opportunity for jobbers to be a resource to their client base.

Government lobbying

The aftermarket is going to have to increase lobbying efforts to inform governments about what is truly at stake here. The rights and choice of vehicle owners must be protected. The OE wants to lock the aftermarket out of repair and maintenance work. Jobbers should get involved in the struggle for access to service information, and encourage their shop clients and various aftermarket associations to get even more vocal about this issue. We can’t afford to sit on the sideline and idly watch our industry lose ground. We need more activists!

Rising professionalism

Shop owners are starting to understand that they are no longer part of a trade. They are part of an increasingly sophisticated profession, and they need to be professionals. Shop owners will need to be true CEOs in 2020, guiding the business at the highest level. That means no longer working on cars full time, or being the only customer-facing person on the counter. They need time to study the direction the industry is taking, and figure out how to position their business to benefit from the trends. They must stay ahead of the wave of disruption or the business will get swamped, impacting all the employees and their families. This is an awesome responsibility. Are you helping them become the CEOs they need to be? Should you be a mentor to them?

Training and development

Technicians will require more training than ever before as vehicle technology advances by leaps and bounds. Are you helping them get the critical information they need? Managers will need business training as well. Can you sponsor a clinic that will teach them the math they need, and outline the internal processes they need to put in place? Train your clients, or risk losing them when their net profit disappears.

It is time to identify your most pressing objectives and give yourself some strict deadlines. This will keep you and your team accountable. Be deliberate. Take one step at a time. Stay focused on the prize.

Keep your entire team up to date on your progress, and then hold on tight! This ride is going to pick up steam!


Bob Greenwood is an Accredited Master Automotive Manager (AMAM) who offers personal business coaching and ongoing management training for aftermarket shops, focusing on building net income. He can be reached at 1-800-267-5497 or