The Automotive Repower Council’s executive director says it’s time for the engine rebuilding industry to get the repower message out consumers.
“A term that I’ve picked up on is ‘Let’s get visible.’ That’s what the industry needs to do,” says Don Midgley, who joined as executive director after his tenure at the head of the Car Care Council. “The big thing that we need to be aware of is that a survey of consumers showed that 76% of people don’t even know that repowering their vehicle is an option.” He says that this points to both a tremendous challenge and a tremendous opportunity. That’s why discussions for a group to build consumer awareness began three years ago. Those discussions eventually led to the formation of the Automotive Repower Council.
“We have to help the consumer understand that it’s a good option for a number of reasons, both economic and environmental,” says Midgley. To do this, he says, is going to require a coordinated approach, a high-profile campaign to reach the consumer. The initial piece of the puzzle was to produce some press releases early in 2000. The second initiative was the production of the “Sticker Shock” booklet that gives engine rebuilders and their trade customers an information tool for dealing with consumers.
“They’ve been saying that it is a good piece and has generated good questions,” says Dave Deegan, who operates The Engine Lab in Tampa, Fla., and is just wrapping up his term as chairman of the council. “It has also provided an opportunity to close a sale.” All Automotive Engine Rebuilders Association members and Production Engine Rebuilder Association members will receive a copy.
Deegan says that time will tell how successful the booklet is received and that it is only part of any business’ marketing program, but other awareness initiatives of the ARC give him cause for hope. Segments on Crank & Chrome, the new television show from Dave Bowman and Sam Memmolo of Shade Tree Mechanic fame, is a big step forward.
Airing beginning in May, the segments will include a real engine re and re. “We’re going to have someone come in, find a vehicle, pull the engine out and repower it,” says Midgley. “And we’re going to do an intro and a close on that segment and we could even send (the tape) to consumers. I’m really excited about that. That will bring us some good opportunities.”
While many viewers in Canada will be able to see the show on The Nashville Network, reaching Canadian consumers through Canadian media remains an important if problematic priority for Midgley, but it’s one he’s working on correcting.
“I was on The Car Show which is the number one commercial call-in show in the U.S., but it is only available at two stations in Canada,” he offers as an example. Although it is only heard on Windsor and Saskatoon stations one listener did phone from Canada to share his positive experience with a remanufactured engine. Nevertheless, it’s just a start and beginning next February, information packages will be distributed to newspapers and other media in Canada and the U.S.
The council is also revamping its website, creating a more striking counter display for the Sticker Shock brochures, generating materials for inclusion in the U.S. Car Care Council’s Spring supplement–which is also distributed to Canadian media outlets–and creating some new trade ads.
“We think the ones we’ve been running are too subtle. We need to talk about the 75% of consumers who don’t know about repowering. So, we think that will stimulate more trade activity. The message will be direct enough to call the trade to action.”
All this costs money, of course, and while engine parts suppliers and a relatively small number of shops have provided funding to this point, Deegan says it’s important for support to expand. While he believes that the revenues from shop membership has the potential to provide the majority of funding, he points to the makers of ancillary items that are included in every rebuild, too.
“With every installation, we use hundreds of dollars worth of associated peripherals–belts, hoses, sensors, ignition parts. The folks who manufacture these parts have a stake in what we do and we’d like them to become involved because with their involvement we could start getting more out to the mass media and start having a real affect. It simply takes dollars.”
Deegan is convinced of the strength of the argument for the rebuilt engine option, and that it will be received well by consumer.
“There will be more and more information as funds will allow us to get to the consumer.
“The whole intent and purpose of the ARC is the educate the consumer on the economic and ecological benefits of repowering their current vehicle. You can call it ecological or environmental, but if you think about what it saves in raw energy costs to repower compared to creating the engine and car from scratch we’re so green we shine.”
For more information on the Automotive Repower Council, contact them at (419) 734-4488 or check out their website at www.repower.org.