What does the new year hold? We’re starting 2018 by getting the lowdown on the automotive aftermarket for the year ahead through the eyes and ears of aftermarket leaders.
Here’s our Q&A with Bob Cushing, executive vice president, Professional, for Advance Auto Parts.
CM: What’s your gut feeling about the outlook for 2018?
BC: We’re excited about the progress being made on key initiatives that will allow us to better serve customers in the automotive aftermarket. This industry continues to grow, and research tells us that our customer value proposition for the professional enterprise at Advance is not only strong, but strengthening across our banners.
A critically important part of the service we provide to customers is making the task of finding parts easier and faster. We’re achieving that more and more today through cross-banner visibility, supply chain optimization and a new catalog rolled out to our customers through B2B platforms, giving professional customers more access than ever before to view and order products from Advance, Carquest and Worldpac all in one place. We believe our offer to customers today delivers access to a far broader product assortment than anyone else in the industry.
At the same time, we’re making strategic decisions about our product portfolio to benefit the customer. Expanding availability of best-in-class brands will allow us to say “yes” to our customers more often. That’s what you’ve seen in the industry recently with Advance’s announcement of the exclusive partnership to carry Interstate Batteries – the No. 1 battery brand preferred by automotive technicians – in-store, online and through direct delivery to our Professional customers.
Finally, it is no secret this industry is facing a technician shortage. That’s one of the reasons we were among the first groups to sign on in support of the FutureTech Success initiative. We intend to be a leader in the conversation about this industry’s future. Today, we already offer the largest curriculum of technical training and business services knowledge through our Carquest Technical Institute and Worldpac Training Institute programs. We’re also working to create role-specific career-path training plans for our team members and championing a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Ultimately, a commitment to serving customers better through differentiated and innovative solutions is what this industry needs. That is certainly what drives us at Advance.
Editor’s note: This Q&A is part of the “Crystal Ball 2018” aftermarket forecast that appears in the January 2018 issue of Counterman.