Auto Service World
News   September 24, 2020   by Allan Janssen

COMMENTARY: Capturing the sale

A new report examining the wholesale market for OE parts reveals some basic truths.

By Allan Janssen

One thing I’ve learned about my cell phone is that it doesn’t like aftermarket sync cords.

If I buy a pink one at a gas station because my battery is dangerously low and I forgot to bring my own cord, my phone will look at it blankly and then continue to power down.

It is original equipment or nothing for my phone – a costly and often inconvenient condition for me.

Some vehicle owners take the same approach to replacement auto parts. For reasons real, projected, and imagined, about 20% of vehicle owners routinely ask for OE parts. And they’ll get them as a default if they go to a dealership for their repair and maintenance.

But if they prefer the longer hours, personalized service, and multi-make competence of an independent shop, they may have to insist a little harder. Why? Because according to a fascinating new survey by Carlisle & Company, on behalf of Motor Information Systems, the majority of parts installed at independent shops are aftermarket parts.

OE parts are generally
lacking in price, margin,
and delivery times…
three of the most
critical considerations
at repair shops.

Looking at all mechanical repairs, a little more than a third use genuine OE parts. The balance (64%) are non-OE parts. This is reassuring news for the manufacturing and distribution side of the aftermarket. But the reason for this situation bears examination.

There are some useful lessons for jobbers among the survey findings:

  •  A catalogue or online part search will return multiple manufacturer options two-thirds of the time… but OE parts are identified as an option only 42% of the time.
  • The vast majority of independent shops do not place high value on one-stop shopping. They’ll shop around for the best price and availability.
  • OE parts are generally lacking in price, margin, and delivery times – three of the most critical considerations at repair shops.

It is true that, generally speaking, OE parts are seen as better than aftermarket parts for quality, fit, and customer satisfaction. Furthermore, they’re on-par with non-OE parts for availability, tech support, and warranty. But the cons outweigh the pros, it would seem, and jobbers who excel at inventory management, delivery efficiency, and price control will continue to do well with independent repair shops.

In fact, the Carlisle & Company report finds that dealerships dramatically overestimate how long independent shops are willing to wait for the delivery of a part. Because OEMs cannot sell parts directly to independents, OE parts must be sold via their dealers. The dealerships are actually the suppliers here. While independents want their parts in an hour, dealerships tend to think (erroneously) that they have 12-24 hours to deliver the part. No wonder their sales are so low!

The Carlisle report makes fascinating reading, and we’ll put a link to it on our website. Feel free to see what the stakes are when trying to capture sales to independent repair shops.

But you may find the key takeaways are the things you already knew: your customers expect excellent service, great delivery times, and the best price. Those things may never change.


You can download your copy of the white paper, at no cost, HERE.


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