Enclosed with this months issue is our 4th annual Professional Automotive Repair Technician Survey (P.A.R.T.S.) Supplement. This supplement is designed to provide you with key buying criteria, as identified by a sampling of your professional account customers, for various product categories. We believe this valuable information can be used to help you identify specific sales opportunities for a given product line or category. At the very least, it can confirm some assumptions you may already have, or it can help you build a characterization profile for specific products. This piece is designed to help you sell more products and better serve your customers.
As we continue to gather data, were able to study these buying trends and conduct a thorough analysis of each product category. More importantly, were also able to examine sourcing criteria.
We asked two basic questions with regard to sourcing criteria: Who is a shops primary source, and why is that primary source the shops first call? When you start to closely examine these trends, you can learn more about how shops source certain products. You can also chart any significant trends regarding shifts in traditional buying habits and patterns.
Weve all seen and heard the rhetoric about how shops are sourcing more parts from the OE dealer. The P.A.R.T.S. Supplement data supports that theory and shows how traditional jobbers were the primary source for parts some 62 percent of the time in 2002, but in 2004, that number dropped to 56 percent across all product categories. And who is the jobber losing business to? Well, while the OE dealer has gone from 2 percent up to 5 percent over that same time period, its interesting to note that retailers have grown from 9 percent in 02, to 16 percent today. Another loser across this time frame is the WD whos selling directly to shops. Direct WDs lost 4 percent of market share over the past three years and are down to 18 percent in 04 from 22 percent in 02.
In the general scheme of things, this may seem like an alarming trend if youre a traditional jobber or WD selling direct. However, looking deeper into the survey, its interesting to note just where the significant gains are being made by the OE dealers and retailers. For example, if you were to remove just three product categories from the survey – ECMs, fuel injectors and fuel pumps – the OE dealer share for 04 would go back down to 2.7 percent. And, while thats still a gain from 02s 2 percent, its not very significant overall. Clearly, as we are all aware, shops are primarily sourcing OE dealers for engine management components and hard-to-find import parts.
So, if parts stores are able to work more closely with their suppliers of these types of products, they stand a greater chance of being able to overcome this up-tick in OE dealer sourcing on the part of their very best customers. Why? Because the P.A.R.T.S. data tells us that availability is the key buying criteria across the three aforementioned product categories. And, thats something that parts stores can improve with the help of their suppliers.
Please take time to review the P.A.R.T.S. Supplement. There may be some pearls of wisdom for you to discover regarding customer opportunities. And, there may be some fact-based data you can use to solicit your suppliers help in getting the products and coverage you need to reverse a downward sales trend.