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25 Years of TechNet

How Advance Auto Parts goes above and beyond for its network.

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Amy Antenora has been reporting on the automotive aftermarket since 2002.

This October, Advance Auto Parts will mark a quarter century of supporting its professional customers with a host of services that aim to help them stand out from the competition.

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To share a little bit of history about the Advance Auto Parts TechNet program, and provide an update on exciting new developments, Lauren Beaulieu, vice president, Professional Marketing, Advance, Carquest and Worldpac, and Kevin De Lillo, senior vice president, Automotive Business Solutions for Advance Auto Parts, give us the inside scoop on what makes the TechNet program so popular. 

Established in 1997, the TechNet technician’s network was established to provide independent shops with a provider partner to supply parts, digital solutions, data platforms and programs. TechNet also provides essential training and resources to enable shops to meet the demand of a dynamically changing technology environment. The TechNet program aims to serve as a nationwide network of highly skilled independent shops, which provide motorists with a trusted source for repairs and maintenance. 

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Today, TechNet has grown into a network of nearly 15,000 member shops across North America. 

“One of the single most important roles TechNet plays is to be the voice and advocate for all independent shops,” said De Lillo. He adds that many members say, for them, TechNet has evolved from a network into family.

“The engagement of our members as well as our member-to-member connections have increased as shops network online and at our local and national events. With our membership growing to record levels, it reinforces what we believed from the inception of the program – independent service centers needed their own nationwide network to share best practices and support each other,” De Lillo said. 

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Evolving with the Times

Beaulieu adds that while the program began by providing basic features such as nationwide warranty and roadside assistance programs, it has evolved over the years to incorporate more digital marketing solutions, helping technicians and repair shops keep pace with evolving technology.

“When we first started out in 1997, obviously those were the early days of the internet, so we didn’t offer all of the online tools and resources that we do today. The way we engaged with our members was mostly field-based. Today, we’re able to engage with our members virtually through multiple channels,” Beaulieu shared. “I’d say the way we connect with our members has increased and modernized as we’ve moved forward. One of the key elements we’ve also been able to offer them are different solutions that meet their needs. For example, we have an insurance program benefit that we derived directly from customer feedback that they were looking for that. 

John Leether, owner of Leether Automotive located in Bristol, CT, owns the first-ever TechNet shop. He enrolled in TechNet in October 1997. Here, he’s photographed with the original TechNet signage he used back then.

“I also think that the level of marketing and engagement we have with them has become more sophisticated, as well. We are able to connect with them and give them a more holistic solution because we aren’t as reliant on just the single point of contact with their sales representative,” she added.

One way Advance has expanded engagement with members is by offering a more customized, personalized approach through its new Automotive Business Solutions (ABS) group, which collaborates with Advance’s Inside Solutions Team (IST). 

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“These teams are part of a nationwide network of industry professional resources whose primary focus is to help our independently owned TechNet members succeed,” said De Lillo. “Their most important goal has been to help streamline and simplify how our members engage with TechNet in ways that are personalized and meaningful to them to drive success. Independent business owners need a customized approach, and these teams work closely to provide ideas and solutions.”

De Lillo added that Advance is constantly growing and evolving the TechNet program through technology as well, with a focus on keeping up with both digital and vehicle technology advancements.

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“All TechNet members have access to MotoVisuals, our digital library of video animations to help shops explain necessary repairs to customers, and MotoLogic, our diagnostic repair data. We are developing advanced technical and business training based on their input. With the complexity of repairs accelerating, our training must keep up, [this is] one reason why we have the most comprehensive training available on ADAS, electrification and hybrid vehicles,” De Lillo said.

TechNet Impressions program

While technology plays a huge part in the program, Advance also announced more tangible benefits for shop owners as well, when it launched the new TechNet Impressions program in June.

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Through the new program, the TechNet Impressions design team develops branding packages customized to the unique building specifications of each repair shop in the network. Upon request, TechNet’s team provides complete interior solutions such as branded service counters, furniture and other fixtures, along with exterior enhancements, including branded awnings, non-illuminated and LED-illuminated signage, bay banners and more. Programs can be tailored to budget, providing repair shops the opportunity to make subtle or substantial changes to the appearance of their facility, Advance said.

The TechNet Impressions team also will work with municipalities to ensure upgrades are approved within local guidelines and regulations, giving repair shops peace-of-mind and the opportunity to focus on their customers. 

Another TechNet member location, Bruneau’s Auto, Inc., located in Milford and New Haven, CT.

“It really is about their brand first and then TechNet as a supporting brand,” said Beaulieu. “The great thing about the Impressions program really is that we make it turnkey. We make it super easy for them. A lot of shops get daunted because they have to work within their local regulations. We will do that for them. They can be as engaged or as passive within the Impressions program as they want to. They can do anything – from just getting a couple of signs or an awning, or they can do a complete shop remodel if they want to through the program. We kind of handle it, A to Z for them. So, it’s really focused on their needs, great or small. It’s about their brand over any other brand and helping them enhance and drive traffic to their shop, really putting their best foot forward in their local community.”

Benefits For Advance, Too

While the program offers a range of features to help the independent repair shops be the best they can be, De Lillo says Advance gleans some benefits from the partnership, as well.

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“There are three key gains: insight, growth and support,” said De Lillo. “Our TechNet members provide tremendous insight into the evolving technology and complexity of servicing the next generation of vehicles, identifying part failures for ‘first-to-market’ assortment planning and technician training shops require to inform our Carquest and Worldpac training program development. When our TechNet members are growing, the Advance enterprise is growing. Our members provide support for our nationwide product warranty coverage, help new members build their businesses and provide feedback to our suppliers on their products.

“Simply [put], our TechNet customers are leading independent shops who provide tremendous value to the Advance enterprise; Advance Auto Parts, Worldpac, Carquest and Autopart International.” 

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