CHICAGO "Distribution Headwinds and Tailwinds" was the topic of a morning panel discussion moderated by Larry Northup, senior director of member relations, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, during the first day of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) in Chicago.
Panelists included Tim Trudnowski, AAP, president/general manager Automotive Jobbers Supply; Scott Grill, VP and CPO, Auto-Wares, Inc.; and Brent Windom, senior VP sales and marketing, Uni-Select USA.
The panel fielded questions from Northup, who also serves as executive director of the Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA). Some of the suggested strategies invoked by the panel to improve distribution businesses included:
Spend time with your suppliers;
Use all the tools available, such as lost sales reports to improve inventory;
Work to be better than the competition;
Be careful on what lines to offer;
Be prompt in delivery and fulfillment challenges;
Have dedicated personnel in the shipping department.
The panel also addressed the issue of the challenges of e-commerce in today’s market.
"You have to get the product to the shop quickly that’s where our strength is," said Trudnowski. "Sure, they can price shop online, but they’re not going to get that part in 30 minutes."
Grill said his company’s mantra is to "Never Say No" to the customer. Grill explained that if his company doesn’t have a particular part, his staff is directed to find that part for the customer.
"We never say no, no matter what we have to do to keep them from leaving the (electronic) portal, because we know once they do, it becomes a price shopping issue," Grill said.
The panel also shared thoughts on the federal Affordable Care Act.
Trudnowski said he’s scared of what the future brings as the law goes into effect, but that he’s hoping to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
"A lot of things still need to be written in the law and will be detrimental to us if we find we can’t pay for it (higher premiums)," he said.
Windom said with his company’s 3,800 employees, proposed health care changes will cost his company millions and is a major factor in meeting profitability.
"It’s going to be a dramatic race in the next few months to understand the law," Windom said, adding he has his human resources department focused on the evolving changes in the act.