Ever since the recent announcement of Advance Auto Parts’ acquisition of GPI, we’ve gotten comments on the Counterman website and some emails from parts professionals concerned about repercussions of the deal. Much of this is driven by fear and the lack of overall information about what is being planned. It is human nature to worry when we hear about change. How will it affect us — and will it be positive or negative?
Over my years in the automotive sector, I have experienced a lot of change. Some at the macro level and some at the close-to-home perspective. In the long run, most of it has been positive. Of course, life would dictate that some of it was not. That’s what makes us stronger, right? That’s what they tell us anyway.
As I reflect back on those changes, I can be objective enough to admit when I navigated the changes well and when I did not. The key was to leave the emotion and speculation out of my navigation and focus on the known facts. When I tried to anticipate or stay ahead of the information, my batting average was well, let’s say, less than 50 percent. And that’s probably being generous.
Over on the collision repair side, we have been dealt much change and uncertainty as of late. Consolidation, regulations and insurance rules have caused great upheaval and highly emotional behavior. But there’s a way to mitigate the fear and uncertainty that inevitably comes with change: I remind myself that it’s critical to have a plan.
The next important thing is to stick to that plan until some information is validated that requires an alteration to the plan. This activity will keep you and your organization focused on moving forward and not waste time on hearsay or speculation.
Is there uncertainty in the distribution world currently? Of course. But having a plan to follow and adjusting it along the way will take much of that uncertainty away. Whether you are a supplier manager, distribution owner or retail counterperson, you need to stay focused on what we know and need to do. There are 240 million vehicles out there. And they need parts and need repairs.
Let’s keep this great nation of ours moving and on the road. There are 3 trillion miles to travel this year alone.