Auto Service World
Feature   July 1, 2000   by Robert Greenwood

Technology has changed the consumer & your staff

The generations are changing and it is important to understand the affect this will have on your business as it deals with present, and future, customer/clients and moves through the processes of hiri...


The generations are changing and it is important to understand the affect this will have on your business as it deals with present, and future, customer/clients and moves through the processes of hiring future staff. Most of us have heard of the generation “classes” such as the “Grays”, the “Boomers” who are the age group 35 to 53, and generation “X”.

There are two new generations that will challenge every current owner/manager in today’s shop, should they desire to continue running a shop for the next 10 to 15 years. If you don’t understand these new groups, your sales and profits could take a huge dive in the near future.

There is a very important saying that your business should understand, if it wants to remain profitable, and remain up to date. “Adapt or Die”. Generation “Y” is the group of people under 23 years old today. This is your customer, and new staff member in the year 2005.

Consider that generation “Y” has more girls playing a prominent role in it. They are known as “brand makers” or “brand breakers” as their standards are very demanding. According to US statistics, 17 million of them were “on-line” in 1998, 21.9 million were “on-line” in 1999, and 38.5 million will be “on-line” in 2002 representing an estimated $1.3 billion dollars in “e-commerce” business. It is probably safe to estimate that 10% of those numbers is a reasonable estimate for Canada, which means technology via the inter-net has become a common item in their everyday lives.

This generation “Y” group aged 19 to 23 today, grew up on the telephone. They do not like to give anything up, as they have the attitude “I want it all”.

The part of this “Y” group aged 15 to 18 (age 20 to 23 in the year 2005) are literally “technogeeks”. They have become very familiar with the computer, and the resources the inter-net makes available to them. Music is a huge factor in their lives and is a major driver for them. This age group loves to shop and are virtual “knowledge junkies”. They are very concerned about brand name BUT insist that the brand stick to their image they have built or this consumer will change. The thought that this group has no money is a myth, as money is abundant for them.

The final part of the “Y” generation is 12 to 14 years old today. This group virtually socializes via e-mail, are the greatest fashion movers and brand definitely influences their decision. This group are very high users of all facets of “high tech” items and have an attitude that is more “global” in thinking as they use the inter-net in their interactions with each other, as the inter-net can literally take them to the other side of the world in a “chat room”. Time is like a currency with this age group because asking for 3 minutes of their time is like asking for $30 as they are so over scheduled in their current lives. Currently this age group has less store loyalty but their expectations are higher, they love discounts, fast delivery, and store service ratings are more important then ever before. The web sites they visit are like a “culture” or “niche” web site to them. They want those web sites to change frequently, keep all the content up to date, and want the site to sell the “content” of their product or service, not just list them.

“SPEEDERS” is the new generation that has everyone in awe and just watching what happens. This group is age 2 to 12 today and will be 7 to 17 by the year 2005. This generation is growing up on the PC and know absolutely no difference in their lives. This group has dazzled everyone with their mind boggling cognitive skills and will be a customer and staff member to learn to understand and accommodate in the future. How is your business going to adapt to, appeal to, deal with, gain the trust of, and keep these customers/clients for life? How is your business changing so you can attract the very best of these groups to become a loyal staff member of your shop? Change in your shop is not an option if you want to be profitable and succeed adapt or die.

Consider the following recommendations:

1) Your shop should start now to execute a plan which includes building a powerhouse image in your market area as having the best quality automotive products and offering the most competent automotive diagnostic service available in vehicle maintenance today.

2) Put your shop on “inter-net time” which simply recognizes “I want my vehicle looked after on “my time” not your time”. Business hours must be closely scrutinized to the desired client base you want to sell to.

3) Managing the vehicle for the customer/client which simply implies customizing a maintenance schedule for the customer/client based on his/her driving habits and the customer/clients expectations from their vehicle they are driving.

4) Merge your marketing programs with entertainment value to ensure servicing my vehicle at your shop is also fun.

5) Allocate more dollars to marketing your business which will include building and marketing a comprehensive web site that becomes “valuable” to the customer/client in terms of not only product/service substance but other things that people need in their day to day lives like links to traffic reports or weather conditions. Find out what is important to your future customers/clients.

6) The most important one of all is to integrate generation “Y” into your business. Hire these people, learn from them, and most importantly, involve them in your shop’s decision making processes. Speak the truth with them at all times, and execute what you say you will do. Procrastination, or excuses, is like telling them a lie.

The future is right around the corner. It is exciting, it will keep you on your toes, but most important, it truly is real.


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