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

Technology and Human Factors Drive Forum Agenda

AIA Western Forum Provides Broad Set of Presentations

Data warehousing is taking forecasting and inventory planning to new levels of accuracy.

That was the message of Rod Bayliss, the self-described “data guy” from Activant Solutions, who brought many in attendance up to speed on what can be accomplished with some ingenuity, a lot of data, and more than a little software engineering.

Bayliss was a key presenter at the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Western Grand Forum, which attracted more than 100 aftermarket professionals for informative sessions on business management and technology, from eight presenters in all.

In his presentation, Bayliss outlined the bulge in demand for intake manifold gaskets for the 1999 Grand Am at the seven-to eight-year mark, and the 1996 Toyota Camry CV shaft failures rates at about the 12-year mark. This knowledge can help predict demand, and even drive inspection routines, he said.

Bayliss says that the key is to check lookups to determine total demand, even if that demand cannot be filled.

“There is a large investment in remembering what happened at the e-cat level. A while ago we had a big call on water pumps for the Impala,” Bayliss observed. However, “Maybe a lot of them got sold off by fleet and needed water pumps,” not because it is a chronic problem.

Tracking lookups across the industry, though, gives you a broader database.

“You can track the relative demand when it is occurring, before it is occurring, and by vehicle type. You add a good statistician, and you can mix all that stuff together to track the replacement rate, the failure rate.

“Our industry has long yearned for this gold standard. It can give us a standard for demand. It gives the entire industry the ability to compete. The more we understand, the better we can compete.”

Jeff Mowatt provided a less hard-nosed, but no less important, topic as a keynote. His “Influence with Ease” talk covered important points on communicating with customers and employees in ways that will give you the desired result, and create a win-win environment.

He spoke of techniques that business owners–or anyone, in fact–can use to improve the customer experience and the resulting financial windfall.

Here are some key points to consider from his talk:

• Ensure consistency. A customer experience should be consistently pleasant.

• Provide a “hassle-free” experience.

• Focus your efforts on genuine customers.

• And last but not least, the useful “4U” formula. “When used by wait staff, this increased tips by 12%. Instead of ‘Can I get you some coffee?’, it’s ‘Can I get some coffee for you?’.”

This friendly addition works by personalizing the transaction, making it more sincere, less mechanical.

“Canadians feel the need to reciprocate, to the tune of 12% apparently.”

Elsewhere during the forum, John Watt’s now regular role as the master of uncovering service opportunities was once again a hit. His presentation revealed how much additional, legitimate service work can be had by instituting a routine inspection for every car that enters a service facility.

Shop owners who had experienced his presentation in an early session could be heard in hallways recommending that other shop owners attend upcoming sessions.

Also on the agenda was Dave Hobbs, Delphi trainer, who ran attendees through a dizzying array of coming automotive technologies.

“I equate today with what happened in 1981 with the introduction of fuel injection. We got through it, but it was a big shock.”

He cited the rapidly increasing development of technology in vehicles, where technology items like sensors and computers are outstripping the failure of hard parts like hoses, pumps, fluids, rubber seals, and other mechanical parts as reasons for car owners to visit service facilities.

“Even brakes are going brake by wire. Master cylinders, boosters are going away. And on many cars, you don’t even apply the brakes in the same way. I have hybrid customers who have been able to get 150,000 to 200,000 miles on the brake pads, because it is using regenerative braking and brake by wire to modulate the brakes.”

The focus of technology development is broad, from infotainment, environmental and efficiency-building technologies, and connectivity, to safety and security.

“In Europe there is a great awareness on pedestrian collisions. They are talking about systems that not only mitigate the collision for the car, but also for the pedestrian by using external air bags to help protect the pedestrian.”

And a big portion of this is the drive to be more eco-green. “If you don’t tell people you service hybrids, if you don’t tell them you recycle your oil, you are missing out on an important market segment.”

Print this page


Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *