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ACDelco’s Paul Johnson: We’re Very Much a Part of the New GM

ACDelco is looking to increase the company’s parts portfolio and broaden better program group participation for 2010 and beyond, said Paul Johnson, general director for GM’s Global Independent Aftermarket.


DETROIT — ACDelco is looking to increase the company’s parts portfolio and broaden better program group participation for 2010 and beyond, said Paul Johnson, general director for GM’s Global Independent Aftermarket. Johnson spoke to and Counterman magazine at ACDelco’s eForum held in Detroit. The event ran from April 27 to April 29 at the Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport hotel.


Prior to the eForum, ACDelco held its advisory council meetings, which Johnson said provide vital front-line intelligence to the company. The advisory council is comprised of 35 Dedicated Distribution Group (DDG) members that represent the broader base of DDGs.

Between the potential sale of ACDelco and the bankruptcy of GM, advisory council meetings were put on hold temporarily. “ACDelco is very much a part of the new GM,” Johnson said. “We’re focusing on the right things – the competition.”

“We are very pleased to be having these meetings again,” Johnson said, “because we’re back in front of our customers and our customers are back in front of us again.


“The advisory council meetings and eForum are both very important events for ACDelco,” Johnson said. “ACDelco’s business is very much entrepreneurial. For our DDG’s, there is no guarantee at all that they have to buy an ACDelco part. We’re accustomed to the fact that we have to earn their business.”

For consumers, Johnson said he believes the ACDelco name means trust. “We know the consumer doesn’t wake up in the morning and say they want to buy an ACDelco filter,” he said. “But when they see the red, white and blue ACDelco banner hanging in the window, they’ll know it’s a place they can get quality service and parts.”


ACDelco unveiled a number of initiatives and tools focused on maximizing the value of ACDelco parts inventory through innovative e-commerce solutions during the company’s fifth annual eForum.

The sessions were open to affiliated warehouse distributors. Attendees took part in a number of various training sessions and general sessions, which included discussions on driving consumers to the Total Service Support (TSS) Program shops through tools such as mobile phone and Internet search and a newly unveiled call tracking system.

“We have several initiatives wrapped around trying to maximize the value of the ACDelco inventory,” said Steve Sigg, ACDelco’s eBusiness manager. “We’re trying to get the maximum turns of inventory.”


“Inventory, while in itself is not an e-commerce activity, is impacted by it,” Sigg said. “In this business, you gather so much data, that you can turn to it and analyze it. We spend a lot of time explaining the need for good, clean data,” he said, as shown by the included courses on PIES and ACES.

ACDelco is continuing its program to sell obsolescent parts on eBay Motors and has extended the program to the rest of available inventory. “We’re going where the traffic is,” Sigg said. “It’s a piece of the consumer side we’re going to grow.”
Currently, ACDelco is aiming at consumers through 92 percent of the places they’d likely look to find information about auto parts and repairs, said Chris Brandt, ACDelco’s advertising manager. These places include traditional and digital Yellow Pages, various search engines, mobile search, social marketing websites and local search sites.


For example, if a consumer types, “detroit auto repair” or “detroit auto repair phone number,” into a search engine, they would be taken to a digital Yellow Pages listing or paid Internet search listings for repair locations near them. ACDelco also is helping their repair shops heighten their visibility through customized Web pages that include shop information and times and a “click-to-call” capability.

Consumers also are doing reviews of ACDelco repair shops, which increases the likelihood that someone would use those particular shops over ones that have no reviews. Through all of these initiatives, ACDelco is driving an average of 20 leads per month per repair location. While that may not sound like much, Brandt said, that’s 20 new customers a month a location didn’t have before. And the programs are really just getting under way.


Many of ACDelco’s Blue Level TSS accounts are participating in a new “call tracking” program whereby inbound customer calls are tracked and recorded. TSS accounts can log in and see the daily call activity as well as hear the call recordings. That way, managers can see how long it takes for a customer’s call to be answered and determine if a customer was treated well by the employee.

ACDelco also has delved into online advertising “retargeting.”

For example, once someone visits as a professional, their Internet address is recorded. When that person goes to other websites, they will see ACDelco advertisements in various locations, reinforcing the ACDelco brand. ACDelco also is offering its WDs tools that assist them in making email newsletters, newspaper advertisements and mailers.


“We’re doing the things that many others are doing,” said Nancy McLean, director of ACDelco marketing. “We’re just doing it in a big way.” About the ACDelco brand, McLean said, “Most people are looking for people they can trust. We really try to take what we’ve learned through our industry research on parts and service and leverage that to be better.”

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