Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2000   by Andrew Ross, Editor


It is not uncommon for various bits of research to cross my desk. Usually these are U.S. based–which offers us Canadians a chance to snicker smugly–and often they offer nothing new to the mix of information.

These are the automotive equivalent of what anyone reads in their local newspapers, usually under a headline such as “Researchers say healthy lifestyle better for long life,” or something of that ilk. My parents used to exclaim “Look who’s discovered America,” whenever they would read such things. I can’t blame them. Then, of course, there is sometimes the opposite: research that purports to debunk some accepted fact, under a headline like “Coffee doesn’t cause cancer,” which has usually followed a headline proclaiming just the opposite. I think my favorite current piece of survey data proclaimed “Canadians about average in sex survey,” which also offered that the Americans and Russians “do it more than most.” So much for the arms race.

In automotive terms, most of the research I see revolves around market conditions that may flesh out our understanding, but rarely offer anything startlingly new. And they are quite often linked with some company’s product category. Accordingly, as these research missives cross my desk they are usually on a non-stop trip to the round file. I must say that neither J.D. Power and Associates, whose insightful automotive service research appears in this year’s Jobber News Annual Marketing Guide, or DesRosiers Automotive Research, are prone to this. Neither do I fault the companies who conduct the research at the behest of a client, as long as they don’t skew the results. Hey, we all have to make a living, and I can hardly fault anyone else who makes a living from asking questions now, can I?

But occasionally, very occasionally, some stray bits of information come to my attention that are either startlingly inane in their obviousness or actually offer a perspective worth noting. The fun part is trying to tell which is which. A recent survey fits neatly into the first. It stated that the number-one reason that automotive technicians prefer to buy tools from a tool truck was “convenience.” Well, duh!

Here are two others. I’ll let you decide which category they should fall into, though I would suggest that “both” might be the right answer:

“Price and quality were once the major factors affecting automotive parts installers’ purchasing decisions. However, installers’ needs have changed, focusing more on customer service and the supply and distribution capabilities of part suppliers. The key to success for auto parts distributors and suppliers is knowing their customers. Suppliers and distributors that can live up to installers’ expectations are likely to increase their market shares. Although parts quality remains a critical factor for installers, order accuracy was rated number one. Credit terms for returned parts and on-time delivery also played a role in their purchasing decisions.”

— Frost & Sullivan

“There is every indication that even with the rapidly increasing number of vehicles per service bay in the U.S. (pegged at 163 cars and light trucks in the U.S. for every service bay as of mid-year 1999 compared to 131 light vehicles for each service bay ten years earlier) the e-commerce revolution in the vehicle industry will make it possible for service bays to become more productive and the level of maintenance among vehicles in the U.S. to be improved through a combination of B2C and B2B e-commerce activities.” — Lang Marketing

The numbers in these excerpts may reflect the U.S. market, but our situation is essentially the same in quality if not quantity. I don’t know how many cars there are per bay in Canada–I’m sure there is a survey–but the fact is that I am also sure that there are more now than ever before.

I leave you with this question: If, as I suspect, neither of these concepts is news to you, what are you doing about it?


In the December issue, we’ll check out several aspects of the Remanufacturing Market, recap the events of 2000, and keep you abreast of the latest news in the Canadian automotive aftermarket.

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