Some aftermarket part suppliers enjoy a reputation for quality that is unimpeachable. These companies are industry leaders, setting the standard for others to meet. Heralded for offering improvements over OE parts, their dedication to research and development is inspiring.
At the other end of the spectrum are those companies that notoriously don’t care about quality, but exist only to give the industry the cheapest possible alternative.
Between these bookends, you will find a great many companies that have a hit-and-miss relationship with product quality. They struggle with consistency.
Visit the forums, talk to your clients, read the reviews, you’ll find that opinions about them will swing from year to year with the great arc of a pendulum, from good to bad, to good, to bad. I’ve been in the industry long enough to have seen several prominent aftermarket companies experience the wild ride of fluctuating consumer satisfaction. It cannot be a comfortable one!
There are plenty of factors that can cause these pendulum swings. Trade issues, market conditions, currency fluctuations, executive instability, technical challenges… all are the enemy of manufacturing success.
It should come as no surprise that many technicians and shop owners place a great premium on consistent quality. Being able to trust a product makes the purchase price easy for them. It gives them credibility in their customers’ eyes, and it builds loyalty.
There’s an awful lot of goodwill in the industry – enough to get manufacturers through temporary challenges and crises. But one too many disappointments will cause service providers to start making blanket statements about shoddy parts, lacking in fit, form, and function.
A recent opinion piece in CARS magazine captured this sentiment beautifully, stressing the importance of consistent quality to the service provider community. If you have not read it, it’s worth finding on our website. The primary point of this “Open Letter to Manufacturers” is that both sides of the market need each other. Service providers need good parts, and part manufacturers need good customers. The single most important quality that guarantees success in this business is quality. It’s the fundamental building block of credibility, customer satisfaction, and profitability.
Jobbers stand between the supply side and the demand side of the auto repair industry. Do you get involved in the question of quality? Do you ask your customers whose parts work and whose don’t? Do you ask them what they’re seeing, what they require, and what they expect in terms of consistent fit, form, function, availability, durability, and affordability?
Most importantly, do you report back to your suppliers?
Your voice carries weight. You are the middlemen. There is power in that. You have a role to play in ensuring that the system works, that both your customers’ needs and your suppliers’ prices are met.
Quality is the benchmark we all need to meet. Everyone’s reputation rests on it – including your own as a parts broker.
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