Auto Service World
News   November 3, 2022   by Adam Malik

The right way to help consumers as they face tough times

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Consumers these days are being increasingly challenged financially by higher inflation and rising interest rates. That makes the role of the automotive repair shop all that more important, according to an industry expert. And there’s a proper way to help them along the way.

James Channer, founder and chief operating officer of In Motion Brands, a consultancy for the automotive aftermarket told automotive service providers recently that these financial pressures change how they interact with consumers.

At the recent Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario Symposium, he highlighted research that showed consumers owe more on their vehicles than it’s worth.

“That’s a problem,” Channer said, especially if your customers don’t have a preventative maintenance plan to protect their investment. Without a plan, their vehicle could face catastrophic repairs sooner, meaning they’ll be putting more money into a vehicle for which they still owe plenty of money. Or worse, they may have to scrap the vehicle while still having to finish paying it off.

James Channer of In Motion Brands speaks during a session at the 2022 AARO Symposium

ASPs have “to change the way you talk to your customers, how you interact with them. You’ve got to be more consultative in your approach,” Channer recommended.

He went on to show that nearly a third of Canadians don’t earn enough to pay their bills — household debt is high. But do your customers tell you that they’re not making enough to cover their bills or that they have negative equity on their vehicle?

“They’ve got financial pressures that they’re not explaining to you,” Channer said.

“So if you want to really advance your business, you’ve got to be thinking strategically and proactively about what are the trends that are happening in the marketplace, and how you can take advantage of those.”

This is an especially good time for the aftermarket to make gains. From 2015-2019, Canadian new car sales were at their highest points ever, with a record of more than two million units sold in 2017. It’s been five years since that point and that influx is at the doorstep of the aftermarket.

These vehicles “are now coming to the automotive aftermarket bays at a time where a lot of those vehicle owners owe more on the car than it’s worth and their household budgets has never been worse,” Channer observed.

This is an opportunity, he added. “How are you going to take advantage of that opportunity? You want to try to service everybody you, want to be more selective — you want just BMWs and Mercedes — whatever you want to go after, you can go get it now.”

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