Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2008   by Auto Service World

Editorial Comment (February 01, 2008)


The recent spate of new car introductions has brought to mind the need for the aftermarket to stop thinking about focusing exclusively on vehicles in their “prime aftermarket years.”

While the seven-to 11-year-old cars and light trucks will continue to be the mainstays in terms of the volume business, those vehicles at the shiny end of their long life on the road can and do provide some serious profit opportunities for the aftermarket.

Stop, for a moment, thinking that every vehicle under three years old is fixed under warranty. It simply isn’t true. The newspapers and Internet are full of accounts from car owners about how their “under warranty car” just cost them a bundle at the dealer because their specific problem was not covered.

While I am certainly not suggesting that a car owner should be misled into thinking that a warranty repair is in fact not a warranty repair, I am saying that the aftermarket should not assume that the car owner they just sent to the dealer walked away without a bill.

And with many dealerships looking harder than ever to boost profitability, you can expect a certain decline in goodwill to be extended to customers.

Furthermore, whenever the phrase “commercial use” is uttered, warranty generally goes out the window anyway. Take a quick gander at what they’re driving in Canada’s oil fields and you’ll find a whole fleet of late-model pickups, not a one of them eligible for warranty repairs. (Funny how hauling pipe around over bumpy fields and questionable roads will do that, eh?)

More to the point, though, it is important for jobbers to keep abreast of latemodel parts introductions and to communicate this to their customers, so those vehicles can be serviced in the aftermarket with aftermarket parts.

“Sunrise products,” as they have been termed, do not generate the total dollars of an A-mover, but the dollar profit per unit generated when that item is still at a premium price level at the dealership can lift its importance in your inventory mix.

Of course there are specific things you need to do if you are to get on board with this. One is talking to your customers in person. You must go to their place of business and see what vehicle they are working on, what parts they’re relying on you for, and which ones they are getting from dealers. You cannot expect that they know what you might have on your shelf, or available in short order.

And you have to talk to your suppliers. Get hold of the updates regularly; annual changes are no longer the status quo, but you have to get onboard to take advantage of new additions.

And, of course, the silicon computers, and the human ones that operate them, have to be up-to-date. There is no earthly way that you can cope with a new aftermarket if you’re still relying on old tools.

I do not pretend to tell you that changing in this way is easy. It requires a concerted effort, day in day out, to stay on top of new additions to the parts mix and communicate this to your market. But the technology to get this information and to communicate it is also far better than it used to be.

In many cases, opportunity is there for the taking. You just have to know what to ask.



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