In preparing every issue of our publications, we have a simple goal: to deliver to each subscriber at least one item that gives that reader something to think about, at least one strong take-away from that particular issue. That’s what makes you loyal subscribers, and we are most proud of how loyal our subscribers are. In reading through this issue of Service Executive, there are three items that certainly have me thinking.
First of all, I took special note of our item on Bosch Car Service Rolling Out Shop Imaging Program. It’s certainly not earth-shattering, but anything we can do to help service outlets present themselves in the most positive light, the better off we all our. As Mark Polke, director of workshop concepts and technical support for Robert Bosch LLC, Automotive Aftermarket NA noted, “Clear identification, a clean exterior and a comfortable, well-appointed waiting area can influence a potential customer’s decision to select a shop and come in for service.”
For too long — and still at way too many facilities in the auto care business — we negate all our good work and quality products with a sloppy presentation that gives a negative message for what it is we have to offer.
Another item that jumped out to me was the news from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration reporting that U.S. Drivers Topped 3 Trillion Miles In 2014. As stated in the article, this is the most miles driven since 2007 and the second-highest since data collection began 79 years ago.
Anyone around this industry for more than a minute or two understands the impact that miles driven has on parts sales and service, most obviously with wear items like brake components. With fuel prices falling for the last six months or so, people are more willing to make those extra trips, take those vehicle vacations, and that leads to sales potential in our bays.
But the one item that had the most impact with me was the article noting that Owners’ Experience With Technology Heavily Impacts Vehicle Dependability. No, I’m not too impressed that Bluetooth connectivity, and voice recognition issues are the most frequently reported problems after three years of ownership, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Those are not items that affect our business much and certainly not so much in those first three years of vehicle ownership. But, after that period, that’s when we become a part of the equation — and a strong extension of the automaker brand and potential for brand loyalty.
As the article indicates, the study found that 56 percent of owners who report no problems with their vehicle said they “definitely will” purchase the same brand next time, compared with 43 percent of those who reported three or more problems. But what the study doesn’t measure — but what we know — is that strong nameplate loyalty is directly influenced by both reliability and the ability to be efficiently and cost-effectively serviced. And that is what the independent aftermarket brings to the party.
That’s why I have never really understood the often-adversarial approach the automakers take with our industry, especially regarding the necessary service and repair information needed for today’s computerized and complex vehicles. For now, those gaps have been bridged. But there is always more to be done, and, as the technology escalates, it behooves all parties to work together to satisfy the American motoring public.
Gary A. Molinaro