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The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation

Kevan Wooden, Chief Commercial Officer, LKQ Euro Car Parts: IAAF Blog – Third Edition

Date: Wednesday 07 September 2022

Supporting the aftermarket through the cost-of-living crisis
A recent poll by the Motor Ombudsman confirmed much of what we already know.

  • The cost of living crisis continues to bite – and garages are feeling it.
  • Every day, people have to make difficult choices. With rising prices on essentials like food and energy – not to mention car parts and consumables – is it any surprise we’re seeing vehicle servicing and repair take a back seat for some?
  • After all, there’s no law to say you have to service your vehicle on time.
  • The immediate concerns for garages are two-fold.
  • There’s a potential shortfall in work volumes, and costs are going up.
  • It’s times like these when the big players must step up and support.

Striving for efficiencies

  • As market leader, we’re in a position to keep investing in the services we offer, to deliver benefits for our customers’ businesses.
  • We want to be easy to do business with – and that means ensuring the right part, first time, every time, with accurate and efficient ordering and paperless deliveries, to keep costs to a minimum.
  • To give an example, we’ve enhanced the service we provide through our trade website, Omnipart – prioritising online orders to encourage garages to go digital. Doing so saves time in the workshop and keeps their phonelines free for bookings and enquiries.

Protecting work volumes

  • Broadly speaking, in the current climate, we can put motorists into three categories.
  • With those who can carry as normal with their SMR requirements, the focus should be on upselling extras – such as air con servicing, or brake fluid changes. The key is using simple tests to demonstrate there’s a need. That’s what makes for a compelling upsell.
  • Next, there are those customers who would ordinarily take their vehicle back to the dealership for a service, but who decide to drop out of the dealer network in search of something more affordable.
  • There’s a real opportunity for independent garages to impress here – and to win and retain new customers.
  • A credible online presence is an important starting point for new customers doing their research – and quality should remain a priority throughout the entire process, from slick, accurate quoting and invoicing, to a comfortable, clean waiting area, and the standard of the service itself.
  • Finally, there are those drivers tempted to drop out of the aftermarket altogether and defer the work needed on their vehicle.
  • To help, just as we’re communicating about the support we’re offering garages, we’re encouraging garages to do the same with their customers.
  • A big part of the reason why we offer a range of brands in every category is to help garages and their customers choose the right parts for the job, at the right price for them.

Action to take now

  • Buying from aftermarket suppliers that offer a range of brands (good, better or best) is a good option in the context of garages’ rising operating costs.
  • But whichever brand of parts garages decide to invest in, it’s only a good idea if the work is profitable.
  • And with peak demand for MOTs fast approaching, the time for garages to review their pricing – which includes their labour rates – is now.