In our January 2023 cover story “Aftermarket Vantage Point” we asked distribution industry leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of 2022 and share with us some of their insights for the industry in 2023. Today, we kick off with Lauren Beaulieu, vice president, Professional Marketing for Advance Auto Parts, Carquest and Worldpac.
What did your organization accomplish in 2022 that you are most proud of?
I’m especially proud of how our team has empowered professional customers through new programs and offerings. We’ve expanded on the benefits that come with being a member of TechNet Nation, which now includes more than 15,000 shops.
Our teams have continued to partner with TechNet-affiliated shops to determine elements of the program that best support their businesses. This includes marketing solutions, such as our Impressions branding program launched last year. Shops can connect with our design team to enhance the appearance of their shop, which can increase traffic and provide a more welcoming environment for their customers.
As we consulted with TechNet shops, we learned that while their car count was increasing, owners found it challenging to identify strong technicians and service writers to support their growing business. That led us to create TechNetAutoJobs.com, which connects shops with talented technicians and other automotive professionals.
Worldpac’s Supplier & Training Expo was also an incredible accomplishment. Nearly 2,000 attendees joined us in Orlando for more than 250 training courses on diagnostics and shop management, plus EV, hybrid and ADAS technologies. We were also able expand our offering of classes taught in Spanish. Many shop owners even closed their businesses for several days to attend, which is a testament to the quality of the business and technical training from our Worldpac Training Institute and Carquest Technical Institute trainers. We’re already ramping up our plans to launch registration for STX 2024 in Nashville!
How can the independent aftermarket parts and service segments best prepare to repair the car of tomorrow as ADAS, EVs and other technologies become more prominent?
We can best prepare by continued collaboration. We’ve prioritized keeping customers in the loop on industry trends and insights while providing them with quality training through CTI+WTI to support EVs, hybrids and vehicles with ADAS technologies. In turn, some of our training derives from input received directly from TechNet shop owners. They’re telling us what they are seeing in the field, and that’s helping us develop training curriculum.
Training is essential, especially as these newer vehicles become a larger part of the car parc. Shops that support the training and development of their teams are building a culture that attracts and retains quality team members, so their knowledge about repairing these complex vehicles continues to grow.
We also need to be prepared with parts that cater to EVs and hybrids. One example is our DieHard EV battery that launched last year. This 12-volt battery is designed for EVs and hybrids, and will become an important replacement part as these vehicles continue to age.
What do you feel is the greatest opportunity facing the automotive aftermarket right now?
There are a lot of positives within our industry, but we feel there is opportunity in creating a sense of balance between the needs of today and tomorrow, specifically for the shop owner.
There are more demands than ever on today’s shop owner. You’re concerned about serving your customers quickly, hiring and training your technicians, parts availability and even promoting your shop to new customers. You need full confidence in your staff, the parts you’re using and that your parts supplier will deliver the right part at the right time. That reliability and trust is critical to the success and growth of your business.
We want to be there for our professional customers, providing all-encompassing business and marketing solutions, industry-leading training and quality parts to help them conquer today while preparing for tomorrow.