The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association recently rebranded itself the Auto Care Association, favoring the phrase “auto care” over “aftermarket.” Will you and your group adopt this new language? What are your thoughts on moving away from the term “aftermarket?”
We will adopt and support the rebranding effort. This is a long-term process and the sooner we start incorporating “auto care” as our industry and consumer focus we will be able to spend more time talking about the business and issues … versus what is the “aftermarket” in many conversations. Will the word “aftermarket” be removed from the industry forever? Time will tell. The other great aspect of the rebranding is that it not only helps explain what our industry is about, but removes a negative connotation of what the word “aftermarket” may mean to people outside of our business.
The aftermarket truly has become a globally reaching industry. How much of of your group will represented by stores or warehouses outside the United States?
We currently have eight members in Mexico, three members in Canada and one in Puerto Rico. We continue to look for distributors in these countries that fit our membership profile where we can add value to their companies as well as our vendor partners. It’s hard to give a specific percentage goal – we believe our growth in all of North America will continue.
How can eCommerce be used as a strategic benefit to program groups?
We use eCommerce in many ways and its development will continue to grow. From cataloging, ordering, invoicing, advance ship notices, statements and payments. Our industry is utilizing technology faster today than ever before and Pronto members are embracing these advantages.
What particular attributes about your group give you a leg up over the competition?
Pronto has a laser-like focus in several areas of the business and operates very efficiently. We don’t try to be everything to everybody. Our main areas of focus are: products, marketing and technology. We develop programs that come from the membership and board of directors. With a focus on listening to what the members want and not telling them what they need, we achieve a lot of support. With 92 members you will not make everyone happy all the time but I will let our record speak for itself. I believe one of the areas that gives us an advantage is the way we manage the members’ money. We look for a return-on-investment in all of our programs. We pay members rebates on a weekly basis with accurate reporting. The most important aspect of a group is in fact the members themselves. Pronto members are like family – each membership meeting is like a family reunion with members visiting about business issue and problems – and what must be considered for the future success of their companies and the group.
How does your group get the right mix of parts on the shelf?
Pronto members use many technologies to manage their inventory mix. From our data warehouse information, vendor inventory programs and by utilizing the Epicor Vista program. All of these are available through Pronto.
Do program groups look different today than they did, say 10 years ago? If so, how? How will they look in 10 years?
Sure they do…nothing stands still. They are different in the numbers, services and direction. In 10 years, while I can’t speak for the other groups, I believe our planning and direction will keep Pronto at the top of the list. We have a very active board of directors and membership. Let’s face it, the distributor base will see significant consolidation in the next 10 years because one of the largest issues facing our industry is the lack of succession planning. Every group will have members adding locations … and probably losing some as well. We work extremely hard at Pronto to exceed the needs of our membership as the market changes. What keeps us on focus? Pronto has a tremendously experienced staff. Everyone on the team knows and lives by the fact that “Pronto exists solely for the benefit of its members,” and we have operated successfully with that mantra for many years and will continue to do so in the future.