Article > Opinion

Are We Up to the Challenge?

By Brian Cruickshank

New marketing campaigns underscore the OE resolve to get serious about the parts and service business.

Over the weekend, I was watching some television - my beloved OSU Buckeyes. As is usually the case, there were a ton of advertisements. I generally only take a cursory interest in them, except when they're of the automotive variety. So, you can understand my interest when, in the span of about five minutes, I saw two national commercials that have a direct impact on the aftermarket parts and service business.

The first was an ad from Ford. In it, a smiling guy standing in a nice, clean dealership service bay proclaims Ford's new "Genuine Challenge" consumer campaign.

"We'll beat anyone's parts and service," the guy in the ad says confidently.

By "anyone," he means you and your professional customers.

Mitch Lord, marketing communications manager at Ford's customer service division, explains the company's rationale for the new campaign: "Our owners tell us that when it comes to service, they believe Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers know their vehicle best - period. But some of our owners don't recognize how cost competitive and convenient today's dealership service departments really are for regular maintenance and light repair. The new campaign...[is] an invitation to all our owners to come in to their dealership and experience just how good the service is. We believe that once they compare us to any competitor, anywhere, for expertise, convenience and value, they'll prefer us."

This ad campaign, and the comments from Mr. Lord, put you, the products you sell and your customers that install them right in the OE crosshairs.

Now consider the second ad, this time from BMW.

The scenario played out in this ad involves a dad and his kids. He's driving down the road, singing "The People on the Bus go Up and Down" at the top of his lungs.

Interrupting this is a beep - it's coming from the car, with a call from BMW's new TeleService. The TeleService voice tells the driver that his car has informed BMW that it's time to schedule service for his vehicle.

Depending on whom you are, your response is either 'Wow!" or "Scary!" Assuming the driver does want to schedule service, I wonder where this mysterious voice will make the appointment. For sure, it won't be at an independent, and it won't be anywhere that buys most of its parts from you. It will be at the dealership. Period.

The OEs have the cachet of having "genuine" parts and service, and they now have the technology to take advantage of it. Is the aftermarket up to the challenge?

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