Following his keynote speech at the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) Executive Breakfast earlier this month in Las Vegas, WORLDPAC President and CEO Bob Cushing shared with aftermarketNews some additional thoughts on the key themes from his AASA presentation.
What have been the key drivers in WORLDPAC’s growth and customer loyalty?
We have developed a very unique business model to differentiate ourselves from the traditional channel. As an organization, we have always recognized the evolution and pace in which data and technology are driving changes in our industry. Understanding and recognizing these changes drives innovation and provides tremendous opportunity for all of us who embrace it. We have developed tools for our customers to conduct business with us more easily. We have leveraged technology to improve operational efficiencies and to provide rich catalog content to enable our customers to grow their businesses.
As a leader in the import segment, what have been some of the most significant changes you have witnessed in this segment? And, why does the import market continue to be an important element of the WORLDPAC strategy?
Over the past 10 years, we have seen import vehicles capture major U.S. market share with a more than 50 percent increase in European, Japanese and Korean vehicles. This dramatic shift in registered vehicles in operation indicates an overall double-digit growth in the import vehicle population with seven or eight of the top-selling cars import models. We will continue our heritage of providing the highest-quality OE/OEM products for imports to meet all our customer needs.
You also recently noted that the company is putting more emphasis today on all-makes/all-models. Why is that?
Customer feedback … every year, we survey our customers and importantly, listen to what they say and take action.
Our customers have been expanding the vehicle platforms they service to include all-makes/all-models, especially after experiencing a few challenging economic years. They are uniquely qualified to transition into domestic nameplates due to their business acumen and tremendous repair knowledge from servicing the world’s most advanced vehicles. For WORLDPAC it’s simple: Why would we want our customers to go someplace else when we can be the single source for all their product needs? Our tagline, the “Right Part at the Right Time,” applies to all makes and models.
Why are WORLDPAC customers so loyal?
WORLDPAC is highly committed to the independent service center and provides far more than just products … we developed the WORLDPAC Training Institute (WTI) 15 years ago. We offer advanced factory training with factory-trained instructors from 35 car makes. The specific car makes training provides diagnostic and repair instructions on the latest technology including diesels, EVs and hybrid vehicles.
We also provide business classes to help our customers improve their profitability and grow their businesses, including regional SMART Groups (similar to 20/20 Groups), which develop best practices through meetings and benchmarking practices. We work closely with our channel partners, our suppliers, in the development of classes and the training curriculum.
What do suppliers need to do in order to be a channel partner for WORLDPAC?
They need to guarantee a quality experience for the service center every time they install one of their products. They need to be competitively priced but not at the expense of brand dilution by watering down their brand to meet a price point or to provide a complete product line. Automotive service centers are well aware of country of origin changes and/or lesser quality “in the box.”
Don’t let them lose confidence in your brand. Protect and promote your brand’s image.
Establish definitive distribution policies and practices. Be vigilant in monitoring the effectiveness of those policies and practices.
Help educate automotive service providers on the changing technologies and service opportunities they represent. Also, help attract a new generation of technically qualified talent into the service aftermarket.
Accurate, comprehensive catalog data is a critical element in being a market leader today. In your opinion, what sets the WORLDPAC catalog apart from the competition?
Our catalog, from 40 years of development, has rich product content at the SKU level with an original equipment numbering system to provide the automotive service center the most accurate application listings. Our catalog has more than 10 million applications with more than 120,000 active SKUs. We use the ACES database taxonomy and provide our customers the most comprehensive availability of OE and OEM products in the industry.
The catalog is fully integrated with our B2B e-commerce platform, speedDial, which launched in 1998 and is used by more than 35,000 automotive service centers throughout North America. We conduct 85 percent of our overall business through speedDIAL.
Finally, we believe that technology enables us to differentiate and leverage a unique business model providing the products and the platform to conduct business easier. WORLDPAC remains highly focused on providing our customers the best possible solution for all their needs.