By Adam Malik
A bright future awaits the automotive aftermarket – provided the industry can seize the opportunities. A common problem is the lack of young talent. Jobbers can’t find reliable people to work in their stores, shops can’t find enough technicians and the supply chain isn’t deemed attractive enough.
But there is hope. By promoting the budding young people in the industry, using less talk and more action and tapping into innovative ways to draw talent, the light can become brighter.
Here’s an opportunity. Predictive analytics is ready to help the aftermarket in ways autonomous and electric vehicles won’t be able to do for at least a decade. Telematics is poised to have a more immediate and profound impact.
The driving force behind Toronto-based predictive analytics company Pitstop – its founder and president Shiva Bhardwaj – is young, driven and entrepreneurial. Just what the aftermarket needs.
Having grown up in the industry – his father owns a shop in Toronto – Bhardwaj has seen the challenges first hand. That’s why he’s using his talents in data collection to help the aftermarket. Let his story be a springboard to drawing more talent in. The industry needs more people like Bhardwaj. A lot more.
As disruptors hit the industry, the aftermarket can use the ability to innovate, be creative and solve problems as selling points to young people. But instead of merely speaking in the hypothetical, the aftermarket needs to be better at showing tangible evidence.
Bhardwaj, as one example, can showcase to young people how mining big data in automotive can be exciting. Another example is Michel Julien, who has spoken at a number of AIA events. He is a technician who sees the future of his profession as more than being about IT than mechanics.
Innovation is needed in hiring practices as well. In our industry forecast piece (pages 20-21), Bob Jaworski of Auto Electric Service in Regina noted how he’s found success in hiring immigrants. Many newcomers not only need jobs, but they want to integrate themselves in the workforce, learn the language and, essentially, become Canadian.
There are many stories of how sharp-thinking immigrants are embedding themselves in various industries. One that immediately jumps to mind is a summer Globe & Mail feature on one young refugee who is taking over a retiring fisherman’s processing operation. The business was in danger of closing down, leaving area restaurants and shoppers without a source of local seafood. He learned the trade from the bottom up and is flourishing.
A viable succession plan or not, tapping into the influx of immigrants could quickly ease labour pains. And who knows what diamond in the rough you might uncover.
To be a dominant force, investment, innovative thinking and a little bit of luck are needed in the aftermarket. With planning, those windows of opportunity can open wide.