NAPA Autopro members took part in discussions on a variety of issues, but perhaps the most lively ones related to finding young, skilled and eager technicians, and competing with OE dealer service and repair centres.
About 150 members gathered at Blue Mountain Resort, on the shores of Georgian Bay, for the 2017 Ontario NAPA Autopro Convention on Oct. 28 and 29.
At the town hall portion, a panel discussed challenges surrounding filling the gap of skilled technicians today and in the future when many current techs retire. Regional director Martyn Johns moderated the panel, which included Brian Boksa, sales manager, Chris Thorne, national director, Chris Kinghorn, regional vice president and Tom Fortune, general operations manager.
While a significant part of the problem is getting young people attracted to working in the trades, there are also challenges of getting them to work for NAPA as opposed to dealerships, which have a “cool” factor, Thorne said. Young people may find it more attractive to work for a dealer and work on newer cars, on top of the fact that maybe dealerships do the little things better, like have better lunch rooms and workspaces.
The town hall discussion also turned to how to keep customers coming back to their shops instead of the dealer. The question was raised on how to compete when dealers offer free services like free oil changes for life as a way to draw customer vehicles to the dealer’s shop.
The panel acknowledged this as a challenge – after all, who is going to turn down a free service? That makes the customer service experience that much more important for Autopro members, something that Thorne discussed at the start of the town hall.
He mentioned the need to improve the image of members in the eye of the customer and create that “Disney-wow” factor. If the customer service experience is there for the customer, even though they may still get that free oil change from the dealer, they remain a loyal customer of the Autopro member for their other vehicle needs.
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