New Internet Marketing Program For Bosch Car Service Centers
TCS, a software and Internet marketing provider in the tire and auto service industry, has been selected as a vendor partner for the U.S. Bosch Car Service Center program. TCS and Bosch have been collaborating for several months on a clean and consistent image for the BCS network through this new Internet marketing program.
The more than 1,400 Bosch Car Service Centers now have the opportunity to choose from four levels of TCS service that include an auto repair website, Internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), local directory optimization, and smartphone-optimized websites.
All Internet marketing packages are eligible for reimbursement through the Bosch Rewards Program. Additionally, each website package offers integration with other Bosch partner programs, such as customer retention marketing, online reputation management, and tire inventory and pricing.
RepairPal Launches Discount Program For AARP Members
RepairPal has launched a new program for AARP members, offering 10 percent off the price of automotive services and repairs — up to a maximum discount of $50 per visit — at participating RepairPal Certified shops across the United States.
For more information, visit RepairPal.com/AARP.
Kukui Forms Partnership With Master Repair
Kukui Corp., a developer of marketing software for the auto repair industry, is partnering with Master Repair, a provider of shop management software, to offer auto shop clients an integrated software package of management and marketing tools.
Master Repair’s software handles management, administration and accounting functions for repair shops, while Kukui’s platform provides data on how much business a shop’s marketing channels are generating. The product also includes smart web pages that are optimized to boost sales conversion rates, a content management system that is integrated with a shop’s point-of-sale system, and customer retention tools such as email service reminders.
Kukui is offering Master Repair customers a free month of access to its marketing suite as part of its alliance with the company.
Repair Chain Analytics, Vehicle Service Intelligence Come To Epicor Vista
Epicor Software Corp. now provides auto repair chain analytics and targeted vehicle service market information tools through its Vista for the Automotive Aftermarket business intelligence system.
This enables business owners and managers to make stocking, service and marketing decisions through the analysis of down-channel transactional data, combined with vehicles in operation records and other industry analytics. The system has been expanded to include data warehouse services and corresponding market and vehicle maintenance and repair information for automotive service chains, franchise networks, and other repair and maintenance businesses.
Among the new Epicor Vista tools are “vehicle market baskets” that let service writers identify the most common repair and maintenance requirements for specific applications. It also includes an “installer insight” applet that summarizes vehicle repair and parts consumption patterns for the business owner or manager.
Alldata Goes Mobile
Alldata has introduced Alldata Mobile, which allows technicians to access the company’s database of vehicle manufacturers’ diagnostic and repair information. They also can connect to vehicles through the OBD port, read VIN information and pull standard P Codes, which are linked to specific manufacturers’ repair articles. Alldata Mobile is currently available as an iPad application, and will soon be joined by a version for the Android platform.
WeatherTech Accessories Now Available Via Sears Auto Centers
Sears Auto Centers, along with SearsAutoCenter.com and ShopYourWay.com, now offer WeatherTech automotive accessories. WeatherTech all-vehicle floor mats are available in-store and online. All other products are available at SearsAuto.com, and can be customized, bought online and picked-up in-store, or shipped directly. This includes license plate covers, bug deflectors, sunroof wind deflectors, universal cargo and floor mats, floorliners and more.
Point of View: Growing Old Gracefully
There are certainly advantages and disadvantages that come with age. I won’t dwell on the disadvantages too much because, to be perfectly honest, I can’t really recall what they are. But I can talk about some of the advantages because the information that sails past this desk – each day, week after week, month after month, year after year – helps remind me constantly of how much things have changed. In this industry, changes have been dramatic.
Not that many years ago, this industry was wrestling with the challenge put forth by one of its major retailers: the retailer would only pay upon sale of an item, and suppliers would be required to ramp up their data management systems to facilitate such a payment for goods supplied. With the clout such a large customer could exercise, many suppliers were forced to apply advanced technology to their data management systems, something this industry seemed to be resistant to for some time, lagging behind most other industries in this country for many years.
Just a few decades ago, this industry was just beginning to see parts catalogs transitioning from massive print ledgers to electronic lookups. For too long, the data was incomplete at best and rarely as timely as it should be, while lacking illustrations and photos that would make parts searches more exact. Since then, we have seen that turn around to a point where parts lookups are rarely done with a print catalog, and DIYers and professionals alike can find every part they might need, with digitally provided installation information included along with related parts noted during the search process.
And all these types of systems used to be stand-alones, operating only within their own narrow processes, never integrated with point-of-sales systems or combined with any sales or marketing data that could improve the distributors inventory management challenges or customer-centric needs.
Now, our aftermarket world, though much more complex in many ways, has become an industry that has integrated its data management systems in ways that could make one’s head spin. We are now able to match the local vehicle population data with the parts ordering system, working in sequence with parts lookups, invoicing and pricing services. A plethora of industry analytics can be applied to inventory data and transactional information from both up and down he channel, making suppliers, distributors and end users more effective and efficient in an industry built on a nearly impossible challenge of fixing technically-complex vehicles within hours and at a very reasonable price.
From the product engineer all the way down to the technician in the bay, the connection is solid and producing efficiencies only dreamt of just a decade ago. All this makes all channel partners more effective and more reliant upon each other, with an ability to make everyone more successful.
There are a number of economic factors that have put this industry in a good position over the last few years, but what has made us all more profitable, more efficient, more effective, has been an adoption of technology that has been well worth the work and the cost – and a commitment from almost all levels of this dynamic industry.
As I said, there are advantages and disadvantages that come with age. In just a few short years, I’d say this industry has matured very gracefully.
Gary A. Molinaro
New Warranty For Ford Genuine/Motorcraft Parts
The Ford Motor Co. has launched a new warranty on Ford Genuine and Motorcraft service parts: unlimited mileage for 24 months from the time of purchase or installation.
If a service part purchased under the new warranty happens to fail and the repair is completed at a Ford or Lincoln dealership, the entire repair cost, labor and towing will be covered. If the repair was completed at an independent installer or fleet facility, Ford will reimburse as much as $150 in labor. The towing would not be covered.
In the case of an individual DIY customer who installed the part himself, the warranty covers the cost of a replacement part for 24 months and unlimited miles. The DIYer’s labor time is not reimbursable.
Ford’s previous service parts warranty was 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever occurred first, and labor was covered only if the part was installed by a Ford or Lincoln dealership. Labor was not covered on parts sold over-the-counter to a fleet or installer.
Acquisitions, New DCs Sent ATD’s Sales Higher In Q3
American Tire Distributors Holdings (Huntersville, NC) was able to turn a $10.60-million net loss from a year ago into $1.22 million in net income in the third quarter of 2013. Net sales increased $72.55 million, or 7.9 percent, to $987.89 million.
The increase in net sales was primarily driven by the combined results of new distribution centers, as well as the acquisitions of TriCan Tire Distributors, Regional Tire Distributors and TDI (see below). These growth initiatives added $108.80 million in incremental sales in the third quarter of 2013. This increase was partially offset by roughly $27.90 million in lower net tire pricing, primarily driven by manufacturer price repositioning and an overall softer sales unit environment.
For the three months ended Sept. 28, 2013, ATD’s revenues were primarily generated from sales of passenger car and light-truck tires, which represent 80.1 percent of our net sales. This was followed by other tire sales (17.4 percent); custom wheels (1.8 percent); and tire supplies, tools and other products (0.7 percent).
ATD bills itself as the leading replacement tire distributor in North America. The company has a network of 131 distribution centers in the United States and Canada, servicing approximately 72,000 tire retailers (roughly 62,000 in the United States and 10,000 in Canada). ATD estimates its share of the U.S. replacement passenger and light-truck tire market to be 10 percent. Its estimated share of the Canadian replacement passenger and light-truck tire market is 9 percent.
In related news, on Aug. 30, ATD acquired Tire Distributors Inc. (TDI), a distributor serving more than 1,700 customers in Maryland and northeastern Virginia.
Michelin, Pirelli Again Claim Top Spots In AutoPacific Replacement Tire Satisfaction Study
For the third year in a row, Michelin and Pirelli took the top spots in replacement tire owner satisfaction, according to the results of AutoPacific’s latest Replacement Tire Brand Dynamics & Satisfaction Study. They were followed by Goodyear and BFGoodrich.
Big movers in 2013 were Continental, Dunlop and General (each up three spots) and Kelly, with a five spot jump from 2012 to rank 14th. Click here to view a chart showing tire satisfaction score compared to future brand consideration.
Tire satisfaction scores provide insight into many areas, from individual attribute performance to future brand consideration. “Owner satisfaction and future brand consideration share a strong correlation,” said AutoPacific president George Peterson. “Owners who are highly satisfied with their tire experience are much more likely to consider that same brand for a future tire purchase, improving a brand’s consumer retention ability.”
For Michelin and Pirelli, the top-scoring brands, more than 90 percent of current owners said they will consider these brands in the future. On the other hand, Primewell has had the lowest satisfaction score for two years in a row, and also has the lowest future brand consideration by its owners — only 74 percent said they are likely to consider the brand in the future. Similarly, newly surveyed GTRadial ranked 22nd in satisfaction and 79 percent of owners said they are willing to consider the brand in the future.
AutoPacific points out that many bottom ranking brands — such as Primewell, GTRadial, Fuzion and Sumitomo — also have a high percentage of first-time owners. “A brand with low owner satisfaction has difficulty retaining its customer base, so they are always trying to introduce people to the brand,” Peterson explained. “They’re not getting the brand recommendations, future brand consideration or positive brand image that comes from satisfied owners.”
AutoPacific surveyed more than 25,000 consumers who purchased replacement tires for their vehicle within the previous 12 months. Twenty-three replacement tire brands were included in the study.
SimpleTire.com Joins Google Trusted Stores Program
SimpleTire.com, a tire-buying website that sources tires from wholesalers and dealers, is now a Google Trusted Store. The program, which is identified by the Google Trusted Store badge, provides shoppers with background information on merchants, including ratings for on-time shipping and customer service.
ALI Introduces Interactive, Online Lift Safety Training
The Automotive Lift Institute (ALI) has developed an interactive, online vehicle lift safety course based on its Lifting It Right DVD hosted by Richard and Kyle Petty. ALI is partnering with dealer services provider KPA, which has trained more than 1 million automotive industry professionals, to produce and deliver the online program. It will be available in early 2014.
Lifting It Right: 2014 Online Edition covers a wide variety of lift types used in professional vehicle service and repair shops, the lifting and lowering process, and the importance of planned lift maintenance performed by qualified professionals.
A narrator guides the viewer through each section, highlighting safety measures with instructions and relevant scenarios. The viewer learns which lifts work best for certain jobs, as well as best practices for spotting a vehicle, selecting proper adapters and working under the vehicle. Real-world scenarios with corresponding questions are presented throughout to gauge comprehension.
At the conclusion of the program, a certificate of completion is generated and stored online. This certificate also can be printed for display or placed in employee training records. Upon completion, each participant will also receive a copy of ALI’s Automotive Lift Safety Tips card and the Lifting It Right safety manual in the mail.
Lifting It Right: 2014 Online Edition will be available for purchase in January at www.autolift.org.
Click here to preview.
ETI Offering Meeting/Event Services
The Equipment & Tool Institute now offers meeting and event services to ETI member companies, associations and businesses. Services include site selection, site contract negotiation, auto/video coordination, hotel room block management, on-site event management, and more.
Universal Lubricants Sells 4 RS Used Oil Services Branches
Universal Lubricants is selling four of its RS Used Oil Services locations to Heritage-Crystal Clean LLC. The divested operations — located in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio — provide used oil collection and wastewater and solid waste removal services.
Universal Lubricants will retain its presence in these areas for new oil and lubricant sales and to manage large national accounts. It also continues to provide used oil collection and environmental services through both Universal Lubricants and RS Used Oil Services across the Midwest, including the St. Louis area, and the southern United States.
This move allows Universal Lubricants to focus on its primary geographic markets, which are closer to its re-refinery in Wichita, KS. The company plans to retain and grow its remaining 32 facilities and to build on its recent expansions in Texas and Louisiana.
Elgin, IL-based Heritage-Crystal Clean operates an oil re-refinery in Indianapolis and is a provider of parts cleaning and waste services.
Tenneco/Walker Offer Guidance On N.Y. Emissions Regs
Tenneco and its Walker emissions control brand have developed an educational outreach program to assist auto service businesses affected by new regulations covering many vehicle emissions repairs performed in New York. Effective June 1, 2013, it became illegal to install, sell, offer for sale or advertise a new aftermarket catalytic converter on certain vehicles in the state unless the converter complies with California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements.
The regulation, which will be enforced beginning in January 2014, applies to all aftermarket converters for sale or use on 1993, 1994, 1996 and later model-year vehicles that were certified to California or U.S. EPA 50-state emissions standards.
The educational material available from Tenneco and Walker includes brochures, pamphlets, posters, counter mats and a technical video covering the new regulation, as well as quick processes for identifying a vehicle’s emissions certification. The Walker website also includes diagnostic and repair information designed specifically for businesses affected by the new regulation.
As a result of the new law, when a vehicle is brought into a New York shop for an emissions repair, the service provider needs to determine the vehicle’s model year and, if applicable, whether it is California or 50-state emissions-certified. The Walker training materials explain how to quickly find this information by locating the emissions control information label. Then, for vehicles requiring a CARB-compliant replacement converter, the materials detail the process for using the vehicle’s engine family number (EFN) to identify the correct Walker CalCat replacement converter.
UTI Opens New Chicagoland Campus
The Universal Technical Institute (UTI) has opened its new 187,000-square-foot campus in the Chicago suburb of Lisle, IL. It replaces UTI’s Glendale Heights campus, where it has operated for the past 25 years. The new Lisle campus has been designed to accommodate roughly 2,000 students and up to 150 faculty and staff. UTI operates a network of 11 campuses across the United States.
MAACO Acquiring Sprayglo Auto Refinishing & Body Repair
Charlotte-based MAACO, part of the Driven Brands group of automotive companies, has acquired Hahira, GA-based Sprayglo Auto Refinishing & Body Repair, a chain of seven shops located in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. The move increases MAACO’s presence in the Southeast and is part of the company’s long-term growth strategy.
“We are committed to growing our presence through acquisitions of other brands or independents which can accelerate our exposure and growth,” said Jose Costa, president, MAACO. “Sprayglo has a compelling business model and outstanding unit economics in the region.”
MAACO franchisee Mulford Waldrop will purchase five of the existing Sprayglo shops once the transaction is complete. Each of these shops will be converted into MAACO centers within six months.
MAACO Canada Announces Expansion
MAACO has announced a five-year agreement with long-time Regina, SK franchisees Charlene and Marty Klyne for the development of 13 MAACO Collision Repair & Auto Painting Centers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The Klynes, former owners and operators of MAACO Regina, have played a variety of roles and been a part of the MAACO family for more than 25 years.
PBES Conference Moving To East Coast
For the first time in more than a decade, the annual Paint, Body & Equipment Specialists May Conference will be held on the East Coast, at the Embassy Suites Inner Harbor in Baltimore. The event, which will be held May 13-15, is open to members and non-members. The PBES committee is hopeful the change in venue will bring new attendees.
Online registration and hotel reservations will be open in mid-December. Click here for more information.
Bosch To Open U.S. Communication Center
Bosch plans to open its first North American communication center in Fort Lauderdale, FL in early 2014. The communication center will provide services for the automotive industry, including emergency call service, roadside assistance and customer services for carsharing companies. Bosch also will use the Fort Lauderdale location to support the travel and transportation industry with customer services as well as security for sea freight.
Snap-on Business Solutions Allies With Insignia Group
Snap-on Business Solutions (SBS) has entered into a partnership with the Insignia Group, a provider of accessories sales systems and in-dealership process training. SBS and Insignia will jointly promote the Insignia system going forward. SBS is also migrating several hundred Mopar EASy (Electronic Accessories System) customers to the Insignia system across the United States.
To complement Snap-on’s line of electronic parts catalog (EPC) technology, including a new cross-brand EPC platform, SBS and Insignia will integrate their systems to deliver an automated parts and accessories sales solution that operates across vehicle brands.
Study Details Perceptions Holding Shoppers Back From Buying Alternative Fuel Vehicles
A recent survey by AutoTrader.com indicates that there are still significant gaps that need to be closed in order for consumers to increase their consideration and purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. The survey — which measured consumer attitudes on a range of topics concerning diesels, hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids — revealed that cost was one of the top concerns across the board, and perceptions about battery life/range are working against hybrid and plug-in vehicles.
“As automakers continue to invest in alternative fuel technologies to meet the ever-increasing fuel economy and emissions standards, it is important that they address car shoppers’ concerns about these vehicles if they want to accelerate adoption,” explained Brian Moody, site editor at AutoTrader.com.
According to the survey, the top motivators cited as reasons shoppers would consider purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle are less emotional and more practical, with three of the top five being related to saving money—whether in fuel costs or by receiving a tax credit. “Better fuel economy” came in first at 70 percent, followed by “Cost of savings on gas” at 56 percent, “Cleaner emissions” at 37 percent, “Better for the environment” at 28 percent, and “Federal Tax Credit” at 24 percent.
Click here to view a chart provided by AutoTrader summarizing shoppers’ attitudes on these alternative fuel vehicles.
Regarding the general perceptions of these types of vehicles, hybrids and diesels were on par with each other as being associated with “good fuel economy,” while hybrids and EVs were equal in their perception of having innovative technology. Diesels outshined the other vehicles in regard to reputation, practicality and value for the money. EVs were cited more frequently for being environmentally friendly and for having cleaner emissions, with the latter being a category that diesels fell far behind in.
Even so, the price premium that accompanies vehicles with alternative fuel technology is a major factor that affects consideration. The survey showed that a significant percentage of shoppers are unwilling to pay a premium over traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. Of those aware of each vehicle type, only 53 percent indicated that they are willing to pay a premium for diesels. The numbers go down from there: 51 percent for hybrids, 41 percent for EVs and 39 percent for plug-in hybrids.
Cost and perception are obstacles for diesels: While the good news for diesels is that nearly three fourths of those who are aware of the technology recognize that diesels are more fuel efficient than traditional gasoline vehicles, cost and perception of diesels are affecting consideration. The top three reasons why consumers won’t purchase a diesel were all related to cost: “Fuel expense” at 55 percent, “Too expensive to purchase” at 46 percent and “Potentially high cost of maintenance” at 45 percent. AutoTrader says the next two reasons should concern automakers the most: “Noise” was cited by 32 percent, and “Not really better for the environment” was cited by 29 percent.
“Diesels have come a long way since they were first introduced in the U.S., but that perception of the clunky car with black soot coming out the tailpipe persists,” Moody said. “Automakers who are investing in clean diesel technology need to ensure that they are clearly explaining and promoting how diesel technology has changed.”
Cost and battery concerns are obstacles for hybrids and plug-ins: Similar to diesels, cost was among the top factors leading consumers to decide against hybrid and plug-in vehicles, but the degree to which those were concerns was higher for these vehicles. “Too expensive to purchase” was the top reason to decide against both hybrid and plug-in hybrids, at 66 and 71 percent, respectively. For EVs, the price tag came in third, but still at a notable 60 percent. Maintenance also was a top concern affecting the decision, with “Potentially high cost of maintenance” cited by 55 percent in the hybrid category and by 58 percent in both the EV and plug-in hybrid categories.
Going beyond cost, concerns about the battery ranked high as well in the reasons consumers would decide against these vehicles, with “Battery life/range” cited by 52 percent for hybrids, 67 percent for EVs and 64 percent for plug-in hybrids. This concern about range was further exemplified by respondents citing “Concerned about charging stations” as the No. 2 reason to decide against an EV (cited by 66 percent).
On a follow up question regarding EVs and plug-ins, 59 percent of respondents indicated that EVs would need to get more than 150 miles per charge for them to consider the vehicle, and 56 percent said that plug-in hybrids would need to get m ore than 80 miles on a single charge for them to consider the vehicle.
Even so, the mere act of plugging in a vehicle was disconcerting for some, with 31 percent citing “Don’t want to plug in” as a reason to decide against and EV and 40 percent citing the same for plug-in hybrids.
“The fact that automakers have begun to reduce the prices of vehicles with electric powertrain technology is proof that they recognize that cost is a major factor affecting consideration and purchase of those vehicles,” Moody said. “However, if they want to increase sales, they will need to keep making improvements in range, as well as charging infrastructure and technology, to lessen the anxiety and perceived burdens these alternative technologies introduce into the ownership experience.”
Toyota leads with alternative vehicles: Of all the automakers who offer alternative fuel vehicles, seven have high awareness among shoppers: Toyota, Honda, Ford, Lexus, Chevrolet, Nissan and Volkswagen. When asked to identify which automakers they would identify as leading in the space, Toyota came out on top with 48 percent, Honda came in second (28 percent) and Ford third (25 percent).
AutoTrader conducted survey interviews of its site visitors between July 10 and Aug. 27, 2013. Participants were recruited via an invitation and must have been aware of alternative fuel vehicles to qualify for the study. A total of 316 completed surveys were collected and analyzed to produce the insights included in this report.
People Watching 11/20/13
• Diane Larson, owner and manager of Larson’s Service Inc., has been named the Car Care Council Women’s Board “Female Service Shop Owner of the Year.”
• Heavy-duty vehicle lift specialist Stertil-Koni has named Keith Bunn as its western region sales manager. Bunn has spent six years as service manager at Stertil-Koni’s U.S. headquarters.
• Universal Lubricants has promoted Ned Murray to vice president of environmental services. He is responsible for, among other things, used oil and filter collection.
• Ron Krapa has joined Elite Worldwide as a business development coach.
News Briefs 11/20/13
• Solera Holdings’ purchase of equity interests in a parent company of Service Repair Solutions Inc. is now complete. SRS is the parent company to Identifix, iATN, MPI and Auto Point.
• Veyance Technologies has released a new Goodyear Engineered Products mobile application. By scanning or entering a VIN, the PartFinder app provides access to a complete list of compatible parts. Images, diagrams and other educational tools also are available.
• Midas is working with LionMaus Media on a new social media strategy designed to keep the brand front-of-mind by employing a variety of witty, irreverent content and promotions. A large Facebook campaign is planned for early 2014.
• Magnum Gaskets by MSI has expanded its phone and web tech support.
• Airtex and ASC Industries have launched a website, WaterPumpU.com, that provides diagnostic and procedural information and technical support for water pump replacement. It includes how-to videos and technical service bulletins.
• Dayco Products’ mobile app now includes a license plate parts lookup feature.
• Mitchell 1’s SureTrack diagnostic information service has exceeded 11 million articles this year.
• BG Products (Wichita, KS) has launched three new certified training courses for technicians: power steering service, cooling system service and driveline service.
• General Motors is transitioning its service brand in Canada to Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac Certified Service. The transition should be complete in early 2014.
• Lord Corp., maker of Fusor auto repair adhesives, has partnered with Hendrick Motorsports to develop a new training video to showcase applications and uses for Fusor products.
• Effective Jan. 1, Sherwin-Williams will become “The Official Automotive Paint” of NASCAR.
Event & Trade Show Briefs 11/20/13
• The cut-off date is Dec. 15 to receive the special hotel rate ($149 plus tax) at the Sheraton New Orleans for the MACS 2014 Training Event & Trade Show. The event will be held Jan. 16-18. Click here for hotel reservation information.
• The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA) will produce 26 North American technical training seminars in 2014.