Being a brand advocate for their customers and seeking improved handling of returns topped the issues addressed Tuesday afternoon at a Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) panel discussion on "What Shops Really Need."
Moderated by Bill Moss, ASA mechanical division director and owner of EuroService Automotive Inc. in Warrenton, Va., panelists included three Illinois independent repair shop owners: Bob Shanahan, owner of DuPage Tire and Auto Center Inc.; John Vallely, owner of McLean Auto Repair; and Dave Walter, owner of Kehoe Automotive Center Inc.
The panelists, who all began their careers in the aftermarket as technicians before becoming shop owners, agreed that quality of parts is their main reason for buying a specific brand.
"Quality is No. 1, no doubt about it," said Shanahan. "It’s my name that’s on that part customers don’t blame the brand of part if their car breaks down, but the shop that installed it."
Walter ranked his buying requirements from suppliers with quality of the parts (along with a good warranty) at the top, second is availability, and third is price.
The discussion turned to problems with returns, a common issue between shops and suppliers. The panelists agreed that many returns are not due to a failure, but rather a misfit due to catalogs and online ordering not having enough part illustrations and model information.
"I wish the aftermarket did a better job by ordering more parts with a VIN number. If the dealers can do it, why can’t we?" Shanahan asked.
Shop owners also requested that when a part has been improved and requires a change in its installation, that the suppliers provide better communication on installation tips or include paperwork tips in the parts box.
Panelists all agreed that they want to work toward improving the partnership with aftermarket parts suppliers.
"We fight hard against buying from the OEs or dealerships and try to focus on buying the aftermarket brand,’ Vallely said.
Walter concurred, saying, when it comes to buying parts from dealerships, "I don’t want to do business with my competition."
The panelists concluded with a list of issues they feel would improve supplier/shop relations.
Topping the list of requests were:
An increase in part photos/illustrations in catalogs;
More installation instructions/replacement updates in the box;
Receiving parts in 30 minutes or less; and
Improved tech hotlines.