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A More Focused Installer


4/1/2004
By Jon S. Owens

Sears Canadas recent decision to exit the repair market signals a trend that impacts the industry on both sides of the border.
 

 


Last month we received word from Sears Canada regarding the sale of its automotive service business to three private service providers. The fact that Sears Canada is exiting the automotive service market is big news, but not quite as big as the reason behind it.

In a prepared statement, Sears Canada president and COO Brent Hollister reflected on the significant changes in the automotive service industry, changes that ultimately drove Sears to make this decision. Hollister said that the change (in automotive service) requires sophisticated equipment and capital investment in an area of expertise which (the three buyers) are clearly focused and better able to support within their corporate strategies.

Apparently Sears Canada has decided that it cannot keep up with the heavy investment required to competently service vehicles. The market has just become too technical and too complex.

As far as Im concerned, no truer words were ever spoken. I would advise you take note of this event, and the reasons behind why Sears Canada felt compelled to exit the automotive service market. It has several ramifications on how you manage your own businesses.

Repair shops know the market is becoming more technical and complex, and many are finding it nearly impossible to service all vehicles, let alone all aspects of these vehicles. Currently, the industry is abuzz over the perceived (or real) impact of OE dealerships in the aftermarket. Whether they are becoming the primary source for parts, or offering up quick lube and brake job specials, this industrys OE paranoia is at an all-time high.

Vehicle complexity is partly to blame for more and more vehicle owners seeking OE dealer service. Its also to blame for independent installers becoming more and more focused on the types of services they are willing and/or able to provide. Hollisters remarks included comments regarding the sophisticated equipment and capital investment that are required to adequately service vehicles, not to mention all of the costs associated with advanced training and human resources.

Make no mistake, providing automotive service is a high-tech business, and it requires keen business processes combined with tons of knowledge and expertise. All of these elements will continue to drive your independent service installer customer base to become more focused and concentrated. This, in turn, will require you (as a supplier) to be better prepared to service the unique needs of this more-focused customer base. Extending your coverage of import parts will help you to serve those installers who focus on import vehicle service. Developing a sales person who is adept at the nuances of under-the-hood service work will help you to serve those customers who have chosen to focus on those repairs. And, having multiple friction brands readily available may help you earn more undercar service business.

These are just a few examples of what it will take to meet and exceed your customers expectations as they continue to concentrate on the core services that they provide. As service providers to trend toward concentrated services, you must be able to capitalize on this opportunity in order to continue growing your business.















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