AAA: Average Maintenance, Repair Costs Are Marginally Higher
AAA reports that the average annual cost of vehicle ownership has increased to $9,282, or $773.50 a month, mainly because of a 24% rise in finance costs for new car purchases. This marks the highest cost associated with new vehicle ownership since the motoring group began tracking expenses in 1950.
Average maintenance and repair costs rose marginally to 8.94 cents per mile, up 8.9% over last year. According to AAA, the increase was tied to the growing complexity of vehicle systems and a new methodology for calculating repair costs. Electric vehicles had the lowest maintenance and repair costs at 6.60 cents per mile, while medium-sized SUVs had the highest at 9.60 cents per mile.
Finance charges rose more sharply in the last 12 months than any major expense associated with owning a vehicle, according to AAA’s research. The spike is tied to rising interest rates and higher vehicle prices, as 72-month vehicle loans have become increasingly common — meaning that buyers are paying more for their vehicles and financing them longer.
The data come from AAA’s Your Driving Costs study, which analyzes nine categories of vehicles (45 models) to determine the average annual operating and ownership costs of each. The motoring group’s research focuses on top-selling, mid-priced models and compares them across six expense categories: fuel prices; maintenance, repair and tire costs; insurance rates; license, registration and taxes; depreciation; and finance charges. For 2019, annual average costs increased in each category.
Additional information from the study can be found at AAA.com/YourDrivingCosts.
AAA Roadside Service Requests Now Possible Using Digital Assistants
AAA members needing emergency service can now get help via their digital assistants if they are Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa users. The new feature works for some roadside service needs, such as battery boost or replacement, fuel delivery, vehicle lockout assistance, and flat tire service. AAA reports that it’s exploring opportunities to expand the feature to accommodate full-service requests like towing.
The “Open AAA Road Service” or “Talk to AAA Road Service” feature works with home digital assistants, smartphones and tablets.
Study: Dealers Lag Aftermarket Shops In Canadian Auto Service Market
Although auto dealers in Canada receive 54% of revenue spent on servicing 4-year-old to 12-year-old vehicles, they continue to lag aftermarket service facilities in share of visits (48% vs. 52%), according to the 2019 Canada Customer Service Index Long-Term Study from J.D. Power.
The study measures satisfaction and intended loyalty among owners of vehicles that are 4-years old to 12-years old and analyzes the customer experience in both warranty and non-warranty service visits. Overall satisfaction is based on the following factors (in order of importance) …
• Service initiation (24%).
• Service quality (23%).
• Service advisor (20%).
• Service facility (17%).
• Vehicle pick-up (16%).
The study is based on responses from 8,815 vehicle owners and was fielded between March and June 2019.
NAPA AUTOPRO ranked highest in overall customer satisfaction with a score of 811 on a 1,000-point scale. The next highest-ranking aftermarket chains were Great Canadian Oil Change at 775 and Jiffy Lube at 769. The industry average score was 779.
Volkswagen had the highest-ranking dealerships at 791 followed by Toyota dealerships at 789.
In an industry estimated to generate CA$10 billion annually, dealerships average CA$323 per visit compared to CA$222 for aftermarket facilities. However, while customer visits to dealerships were flat year-over-year (1.3 visits), visits to aftermarket facilities increased from 1.5 in 2018 to 1.6 in 2019.
“Considering the sheer size of the auto service market for maintenance and repair, any fraction gained in market share translates into millions in potential revenue that auto dealers are leaving on the table,” said Virginia Connell, automotive research and consulting manager at J.D. Power Canada. “As vehicles age and require more complex and costly repairs, aftermarket service is doing a better job at attracting and retaining customers, especially as warranties start to expire, consequently capitalizing on the more revenue-lucrative repair work.”
According to the study, Canadian vehicle owners start to favor aftermarket shops over dealers when their vehicle is between 4 years old and 7 years old. Furthermore, while dealers have a slight advantage in customer satisfaction when it comes to pure maintenance (787 vs. 782), aftermarket service facilities have higher overall satisfaction than dealers (783 vs. 775) and higher satisfaction with repairs (791 vs. 759).
Some additional findings from the study …
• Aftermarket providers do a better job of greeting customers immediately than do dealers (51% vs. 35%).
• Dealers are more likely to return vehicles cleaner (33% vs. 9%).
• Aftermarket customers “definitely will” recommend a facility 52% of the time after maintenance work, compared with 39% for dealers. The gap for repair work is even wider (57% vs. 34%).
• Satisfaction is highest when customers receive and accept recommendations for additional service work from their service advisor.
• Tablets boost acceptance rates of work recommendations when used to list specific details of the issue (59%), provide a cost estimate (57%), access service history (57%) and show a menu of available options (56%).
Take 5 Expands Via Acquisition In Texas, Wisconsin
Take 5 Oil Change, a Driven Brands company, has acquired the Express Automotive Group, a chain of quick-lube and automotive service centers with 28 locations in the Houston market. The move gives the company 148 shops in Texas, 58 of which are in the Houston area.
Take 5 also has acquired Fast Track Oil Change Centers, which has 27 quick-lube and automotive service centers in the Green Bay and Milwaukee markets. The move expands Take 5’s Wisconsin locations from 13 to 40.
Financial details of the transactions were not disclosed. After the acquisitions, Take 5’s footprint comprises 483 shops across the United States and Canada.
Icahn Automotive Awards $50,000 In Scholarships
The Icahn Automotive Group is awarding $50,000 in scholarships ($2,500 to 20 people) to support students pursuing automotive technician careers. The awards are going to students enrolled in accredited post-secondary automotive technology programs and are for the 2019-‘20 school year. The annual scholarship program is part of a multi-year commitment by the company to technician education and the promotion of skilled trades.
Icahn Automotive owns and operates the auto repair and maintenance providers Pep Boys, AAMCO and Precision Tune Auto Care.
VIP Tires Making Renovations To Customer Waiting Spaces
VIP Tires & Service is working to strategically identify and renovate the customer waiting spaces in many of its older locations. This initiative included the recent expansion of its shop in Brunswick, ME, where the customer area is now 500% larger than before. Amenities including a larger waiting area, laptop bars for working, a coffee and drink station, and windows into the service bays so customers can see the work being done on their vehicles.
VIP Tires & Service operates 59 locations throughout New England: 19 locations in New Hampshire, four in Massachusetts, one in Vermont and 35 in Maine.
Tire Discounters Adds Purchasing VP
Cincinnati-based Tire Discounters, one of the nation’s largest tire and automotive services retailers, has added Jeff Campbell as its vice president of purchasing. He joined Tire Discounters this summer from Monro Inc., where he was vice president of parts merchandising and indirect procurement.
Campbell is board chairman of the Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (AMRA) and has over 20 years of industry experience in retail management, logistics, merchandising and procurement.
Tire Discounters operates more than 120 shops across Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama.
Virginia Tire & Auto Revamps Its Senior Leadership
Virginia Tire & Auto has reconfigured its senior leadership, with the husband and wife team of Mike and Julie Holmes now serving as co-CEOs. Mike had been CEO, and Julie was president.
In their new roles, Julie handles employee and program development, marketing, communications, and corporate governance, while Mike leads company strategy, technology integration, real estate and finance.
Additionally, Ben Wilson been promoted from general manager to COO, which is a new position at the company.
The Fairfax, VA-based tire and auto service company has 15 locations across the state.
TireHub Expanding In Minnesota, South Carolina
Atlanta-based TireHub — the national tire distributor co-founded by Bridgestone Americas and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company — has announced plans to open logistics centers in Lakeville, MN, and Columbia, SC, in the fourth quarter of 2019. The expansions follow the first new market addition in Ft. Myers, FL, earlier this year. The company also has relocated centers in Austin, TX; Knoxville, TN; Mobile, AL; Oakland, CA; and Las Vegas. TireHub launched in 2018 and operates 69 logistics centers across the United States.
California Bans Unsafe Used Tires
On Sept. 6, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law an update to the state’s Automotive Repair Act that prohibits automotive repair dealers from installing unsafe used tires. The state now requires automotive repair dealers to use a visual inspection to determine whether a tire meets the criteria of an unsafe used tire.
California defines an “unsafe used tire” as one where any of the following criteria applies …
• The tire is worn to two-thirty-seconds of an inch tread depth or less on any area of the tread.
• The tire has any damage exposing the reinforcing plies of the tire through cuts, cracks, punctures, scrapes or wear.
• The tire has any repair in the tread shoulder or belt edge area.
• The tire has a puncture that has not been both sealed or patched on the inside and repaired with a cured rubber stem through to the outside.
• The tire has a repair to the sidewall or bead area.
• The tire has a puncture repair of damage larger than one-fourth of an inch.
• The tire shows evidence of prior use of a temporary tire sealant to repair a puncture or damage to the tire without evidence of a subsequent proper repair.
• The tire has a defaced or removed U.S. Department of Transportation tire identification number.
• The tire has any inner liner damage or bead damage.
• The tire shows indication of internal separation, such as bulges or local areas of irregular tread wear indicating a distortion in the tread area when compared to other areas of the tread, or belt separation.
The new section of the law does not apply to tire repairs, tire rotations, tire balancing, or a tire mounted on a wheel or rim that is temporarily removed from a vehicle and reinstalled on the same vehicle.
Under the revised law, “tire repair” is defined as repairing a puncture in the tire tread area that is no larger than one-fourth of an inch in diameter, has not caused any internal damage to the tire and is repaired according to industry standards.
Car Repair Startup RepairSmith Supports California’s Gig Worker Law
RepairSmith, a new at-home car repair and maintenance service that launched this summer, supports a new California law requiring gig economy workers to be reclassified as employees instead of contractors. RepairSmith is a company that has emphasized in the past that its technicians are not gig workers and that they maintain full-time hours.
“Originally, gig work was designed to be a source of supplemental income, which is useful and appropriate to a degree, but not when people are essentially working full-time hours and especially not when dealing with skilled workers,” CEO Joel Milne said in a Sept. 16 statement. “Yet, the success of companies like Uber and DoorDash has created a trend that permeates other industries, including our own. We strongly disagree with this.
“Skilled labor, like automotive repair, requires talented workers who are experts at their craft. They need access to specialized tools and continuing education opportunities. Our mechanics are classified as employees and receive employee benefits, including healthcare and paid vacation. After all, this is not supplemental income for them; it’s their career and livelihood.”
RepairSmith also provides its technicians with tools and company vehicles.
Based in Los Angeles, RepairSmith provides at-home car repair and maintenance services. The company is backed by Daimler AG. RepairSmith is currently available in California, with plans to expand to other major metropolitan areas throughout 2019 and 2020.
FCA Approves Snap-on For Secure Vehicle Gateway Module Access
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has approved Snap-on Inc. for direct access to the vehicle gateway module from its scan tools, according to Kenosha, WI-based Snap-on.
FCA’s secure gateway module was introduced on select 2018 and newer vehicles. For those vehicles with the secure gateway module, access to certain diagnostic functions requires registration and authentication through an approved device for all aftermarket scan tools.
In October, Snap-on expects to introduce the Snap-on Secure Vehicle Gateway, which the company claims will provide access to secure OEM vehicle gateway modules. Snap-on and FCA reportedly worked closely to develop technology that uses FCA’s aftermarket scan tool user management and tool registration system (AUTOAUTH) to allow Wi-Fi-enabled diagnostics platforms using current software to perform secure gateway functions.
All FCA secure gateway compliant technology requires device and user registration through AUTOAUTH. The Snap-on Secure Vehicle Gateway is designed to help navigate through this new process, according to Snap-on.
Shopmonkey Touts $10 Million In ‘Series A’ Funding
The auto-repair shop software company Shopmonkey reports that it raised $10 million in “Series A” funding led by Index Ventures. Other participating investors include e.ventures and I2BF. According to Shopmonkey, the funds will be used to recruit local talent and invest in product development.
Shopmonkey is a cloud-based system that consolidates the management of all repair shop business — including appointment scheduling, parts ordering, inventory management and payment processing— onto a single platform.
Along with its investment, Index Ventures’ Nina Achadjian is joining Shopmonkey’s board of directors. At Index Venture, Achadjian focuses on venture and growth investments in business-to-business software as a service (SaaS). Her background includes time as the financial planning and analysis lead for Google AdSense.
Vertical Development Announces Droptop Integration
The quick-lube software company Droptop is integrating Vertical Development’s ShowMeTheFilters parts catalog into its cloud-based shop management software. This will allow Droptop users to find parts based on VIN numbers, see photos and get technical information.
Droptop’s software allows managers to track sales, job times, inventory and more across the business. Technicians also can access job information and print or email receipts directly to customers.
Diesel Laptops Moves Into Bigger Building
Diesel Laptops, a distributor for commercial truck diesel diagnostic software and hardware, has moved its offices and production facility from Gilbert, SC, to a larger building in nearby Irmo, SC.
“As our products and solutions have become better known in the industry, demand has risen significantly and quickly,” Tyler Robertson, CEO and founder of Diesel Laptops, said. “Our new 37,000-square-foot office and production space is 75% larger than our previous facility and offers a more efficient layout.”
AAPEX Organizers Tout Service Professionals Offerings
AAPEX organizers have designated Nov. 7 of the show as Service Professionals Day during which specific programs, as well as exhibitor demonstrations and training, will be offered for this segment of the auto care industry. The agenda includes …
• Let’s Tech presentations on communicating with customers, tire-mounted sensors, braking with ADAS, vehicle security and more.
• Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) Forum.
• Technology of Tomorrow section.
• Service Professionals Summit.
• Virtual Vehicle Challenge.
• AAPEXedu sessions.
• Mobility Garage.
In addition, the AASA “Know Your Parts” booth will focus on technician training by demonstrating how to access technical hotlines and resources.
These programs and training sessions, as well as entrance to the AAPEX trade show, cost $40 through Friday, Oct. 11. Click here to register for AAPEX, which runs Nov. 5-7 in Las Vegas.
Panelists Announced For Service Professionals Summit At AAPEX
The Service Professionals Summit at AAPEX 2019 will address the aging demographic of independent repair shop owners, as well as the consolidation activities of large corporations and private equity groups within this segment of the auto care industry. This year’s panelists will be …
• Rick Schwartz, co-founder and CEO of Schwartz Advisors, a mergers and acquisition advisor and management consulting firm.
• Greg Bunch, president of Aspen Car Clinic and president of the Transformers Institute.
• Jason Rainey, general manager of NAPA CarCare.
The panel will be moderated by Carm Capriotto, host of the aftermarket podcast Remarkable Results Radio.
The summit, which is part of Service Professionals Day at AAPEX, runs from 1:30-3 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 7. The event is included in the AAPEX show registration. AAPEX will take place Nov. 5-7 in Las Vegas.
TIA Elects Five Board Members
The Tire Industry Association (TIA) has elected five members to its board of directors. Four will serve three-year terms. They are …
• Debra Hamlin, environmental, health, safety and sustainability director for the commercial division of Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations in Nashville.
• Russell Devens, director of safety and risk management for McCarthy Tire Service of Wilkes-Barre, PA.
• Jim Pangle, a consultant with Fountain Tire of South Lethbridge, Alberta.
• T.J. Trum, general counsel for Pomp’s Tire Service in Kansas City, KS.
The fifth will serve a one-year term, filling the vacancy created when Mason Hess of the Purcell Tire & Rubber Company became secretary of the board earlier this year. Elected to this one-year term is Dean Schwartz, owner of Lloyd’s Tire & Auto Care in Santa Cruz, CA.
The new directors will take office Nov. 4 at the association’s annual membership meeting in Las Vegas. They will join 13 existing directors on the TIA board.
Spectra Premium Industries, a leading North American Auto Parts Manufacturer, is seeking a Sales & Performance Specialist (SPS) for the North American market. The SPS will obtain, interpret, format and report on customer & data weekly. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
The Director of Distribution is responsible for providing value to our customer. This is accomplished by working with a team to develop and implement measured standards at all company locations. This position requires the exercise of independent judgment and discretion. … (more) … Click here to find out more.
Dickinson Fleet Services Launches Technician Development Program
Dickinson Fleet Services (DFS) has launched a hands-on technology and professional development program in Indianapolis called FleeTec Academy. The initiative is designed for motivated and talented people with little to no prior mechanical experience who want to become industry-certified technicians.
Technician candidates participate in an in-residence educational program designed to establish foundational mechanical skills. This is followed by an internship and extended educational work at one of DFS’s service centers or field service locations for the development of advanced skills.
After completing the program, the technicians begin working for the independent fleet maintenance and repair provider.
“We are reaching beyond the rising shortage of available skilled talent in our industry and are fueling our future growth with the creation of the FleeTec Academy, which will bring in a new stream of talent,” DFS Vice President Steve Ginn said in a Sept. 17 announcement. “There is an untapped population of extremely capable men and women who are highly motivated to pursue a mechanical service technology career but who have just not been able to overcome the typical barriers to entry, most notably time and money.”
According to DFS, FleeTec candidates are paid competitive wages throughout the program, including coverage of all expenses, and are provided with a set of tools.
In related news, DFS has acquired A1 Diesel Service of Hendersonville, TN. This marks Dickinson’s ninth acquisition since 2017 and its third so far in 2019. The move complements the more than 20 mobile service units currently operating in the Nashville area, according to DFS.
DFS provides mobile on-site maintenance and repair services for light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and trailers with more than 500 mobile units operating nationwide. The company also has 23 maintenance facilities that offer such work as accident repair, paint, refurbishment and dedicated technician services.
Mitsubishi Motors North America Adds Aftersales VP
Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) has added Scott Smith as its vice president of aftersales, responsible for overseeing parts and service operations for MMNA in the United States, as well as all aspects of parts export logistics for Latin America. Smith brings more than 30 years of auto industry experience, most recently as vice president of parts operations for AutoNation Inc., the largest automotive retailer in the United States. His resume also includes multiple roles over 21 years with the Ford Motor Company in parts, service and sales; warranty; product marketing; customer relationship management; and dealer operations.
News Briefs 9/30/19
• The Automotive Maintenance & Repair Association (AMRA) has launched three new websites: motorist.org, a consumer-facing website designed to educate consumers regarding vehicle repair; amra.org, which serves as a hub for membership-related documents and information; and e-uics.org , a site where service providers can find information on standards like the MAP process, code of ethics and more.
• BBB Industries has added a section on electronic power assisted steering (EPAS) to its digital training portal. The new section consists of seven training videos providing instruction on system diagnostics, tools needed, programmable module installations and battery state of repair.
• The Bove Group, a Jiffy Lube franchisee, has opened two Jiffy Lube Multicare service centers in the Phoenix area. The shops provide expanded services, including brakes, tires and engine diagnostics, as well as the oil change work. Bove now has more than 50 Jiffy Lube locations in Arizona.
• Harris Williams, a global investment bank specializing in mergers and acquisitions advisory services, advised Joe Hudson’s Collision Centers, a portfolio company of Carousel Capital, on its sale to TSG Consumer Partners. Joe Hudson’s operates roughly 110 auto body repair shops across the Southeast. Carousel remains a minority investor in the company.
• The One Platform from Dealer-FX has been General Motors Parts iMR approved in the service lane tools category. This allows GM dealers to purchase One Platform and receive co-op reimbursement from the automaker for the investment. One Platform offers a variety of services, including an online scheduler, appointment manager, advisor check-in and technician inspection.