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 John R. Washbish, president and CEO of the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance.
CM: What’s your gut feeling about the outlook for 2018?
JW: This year is going to be even better than last year for the aftermarket for the simple fact that more cars are coming into our sweet spot in 2018. At the Alliance, we have more than 3,500 Certified Service Centers and more than 2,000 part stores across North America to help with the expected increasing demand of repairs and parts necessary to keep America rolling.
As people continue to hold on to their cars longer, the range of our sweet spot grows, which is great news for our industry. Fortunately, we have an Inventory Optimization Tool (IOT) that our shareholders use to tailor their product mix, including foreign nameplates to their marketing area. This is an impressive inventory modeling tool that is especially helpful for distributors and part stores alike.
The landscape of the aftermarket continues to evolve into an e-commerce environment. This is great news for the Alliance, as we also have a powerful e-commerce tool, MyPlace4Parts. With MyPlace, the technician or consumer can easily search and find all necessary parts in one place by brand, product group or part number. Our ordering system has a scan VIN and license plate feature that really saves time and improves order accuracy.
2018 will be spectacular for us, here at the Alliance, because we will be hosting our Auto Value and Bumper to Bumper Aftermarket Jackpot Convention in Las Vegas. Our 5,000 valued guests will have full access to AAPEX and SEMA, all of our classes, educational seminar sessions and our exclusive Big Money Giveaway reception featuring celebrity entertainment. It’s going to be a fantastic three-day event.
As in previous years, we have an exciting lineup for our 2018 sweepstakes programs with the Aftermarket Jackpot Jumpstart, Race to Charlotte, Perfect Powersports Summer Giveaway and the Orlando Experience. With our focus on professional technicians, we provide the opportunity to win a trip of a lifetime, a NASCAR event to remember, a powersports vehicle of their choice, not to mention tons of cash! We will have numerous winners and will give away thousands in cash. For each of these technician promotions, every MyPlace user is automatically entered with each qualifying purchase.
Finally, 2018 is going to be a great year at the Alliance as we kick off our new Technician of the Year program. We will reward our top technicians in the United States, Canada and Mexico for staying up-to-date and knowledgeable on automotive repair and auto part trainings. With the rapid technology changes in our industry, we understand the importance of recognizing our master-level technicians for their career achievements. All in-network technicians have a chance to be selected as a finalist to attend the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving and receive the ultimate title of the Auto Value or Bumper to Bumper Technician of the Year.
CM: What legislative/legal issues could have the most impact on the automotive aftermarket and/or your operation in 2018?
JW: Our primary issue is getting access to those politicians who make the laws we live by. Our aftermarket needs to be understood and appreciated by our lawmakers. We truly keep America rolling!
With that said, we believe the most important thing any aftermarket believer can do is support the Auto Care Political Action Committee (ACPAC). We are very proud of the Alliance shareholders and all our employees, as we were the most significant ACPAC supporter in 2017. Every contribution supports our industry’s goals. We encourage everyone in the aftermarket to come together and support the ACPAC fund to assist in finding greater leverage with our key legislators in Washington, D.C.
Editor’s note: This Q&A is part of the “Crystal Ball 2018” aftermarket forecast that appears in the January 2018 issue of Counterman.