Auto Service World
Feature   September 1, 2010   by Auto Service World

Programs a Good Fit for Jobbers, Service Providers

Vast-uto Distribution has worked hard to

nsure that the programs it offers in Ontario are a good fit for Ontario jobbers and their customers.

“It fits in extremely well, because we have programs for jobbers of all sizes,” says Bob McPherson, director of sales and marketing for Vast-Auto Distribution in Ontario. “We have signed Auto Value members of all sizes and we have been effective at all levels throughout Ontario.

“That has been our strongest selling point in Ontario: we don’t just gear our programs to one segment; we cover all segments.”

Recognizing that this is a key part of any program–and imperative to the future success of Vast-Auto–the organization can draw from the resources in its two Ontario distribution centres as well as its Montreal, Que., facility when needed.

“We have the inventory, the pricing, and the variety, because we not only carry the national brands, but we also carry parts to achieve our strategy of a good-better-best approach where the industry demands it.

“We also maintain a level of competitive pricing,” he adds.

But as important as product and pricing are, for companies to be successful, today’s aftermarket requires more.

Based on the strong foundations that come with the Auto Value program from the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance, Vast-Auto’s offering in Ontario is not a cookie-cutter approach.

“We have four structured programs that we utilize based on volume. Because all of the decisions are made here in Ontario, which I think is a key factor, we are able to recommend the program that the customer believes will best suit his needs. We try to maintain this structure, but we do have the ability to be flexible on some aspects of the programs.

“Every jobber is different, and every program is different. We have the Auto Value Parts Store banner, which is recognized throughout North America with 2,300 locations, servicing more than 2,900 Auto Value Certified Service Center installer-banner program members.”

McPherson says that the programs offered are competitive with other programs in the market, with the added benefit of quick decision-making and the desire to be flexible to meet specific customer needs. Combined with training programs and an annual convention that focuses on sales and marketing, Vast-Auto is able to offer jobbers and their customers a full-featured program with significant flexibility.

“Jobbers appreciate that, because it gives them the ability to build loyalty with their customers as Vast-Auto builds loyalty with them.”

The engine driving much of this capability is Vast-Auto’s ongoing commitment to have leading-edge information technology at its disposal, but in a user-friendly package.

“John Del Vasto, from the day he started the business, has been committed to the development of IT at all levels. Our ability to connect through our computer systems right from the service provider to the distribution centre is leading-edge. Net Value is our Web-based parts ordering and communication platform linking automotive service providers with parts stores. Net Value is powered by Activant’s industry-leading parts catalogue, allowing service dealers to easily look up part availability and pricing and place the order. Using the Net Value system, service centres and parts stores can find the parts they need in any of Vast-Auto’s three facilities.

“The response to Net Value has been very positive,” McPherson says of customers already taking advantage of the system. “One of the reasons they have adopted this new system is because it wasn’t designed by a computer company; it was designed by parts people for parts people.”

Another example is Activant’s Eagle system, a comprehensive Microsoft Windows-based business management solution built for today’s parts stores. Some key benefits include locating the right part instantly with a fully integrated catalogue VIN lookup and product images, cost reduction with paperless document management, and informed decision-making using intuitive, on-screen analysis tools.

That theme echoes another cornerstone of the Auto Value members’ program: no buy-in.

“You don’t have to contribute one dollar to become an Auto Value member. We will earn your business every day.”

And, he says, discounts start at lower volumes than other programs.

“What we are finding is that any time we can put more disposable dollars in a jobber’s pocket to run their business, they are happy. Any time we can help them ease their financial burdens, they are all for it. Who wouldn’t be?”

Still, flexibility and meeting the Ontario market on its own terms remains a mantra of Vast-Auto. “There is no question the Ontario market is unique when it comes to the way we do business.

“The Auto Value Certified Service Center program enables the independent installer to compete effectively. Whether they like it or not,

banners are gaining momentum and market share. The consumer market is highly motivated by perceptions, and consumers need to know that they are going to get the service that they would normally get at another banner or dealer. When you look at the numbers, the independent installers aren’t getting the aftermarket share of the business that they used to. This program will enable them to get out there more effectively.

“When you remember that the owner of this company, John Del Vasto, started out as an installer, you understand why everything we do is geared for bottom-up consideration. Vast-Auto believes that if we take care of our customers, the business will take care of itself. Not the other way around.”

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