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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Aftermarket News: 'GAAS 2007: Meeting the Needs of Today's Vehicle Owners'

Aftermarket News Reports on GAAS 2007 Findings

WORLDPAC recently received a story from AMN (Aftermarket News - a Babcox e-newsletter) that speaks to the needs of today's vehicle owner. We believe this information may be helpful to our customers when conducting business planning.

GAAS 2007: Meeting the Needs of Today's Vehicle Owners

Posted: May 9, 2007, 9 a.m., EST

by Amy Antenora
AMN Editor (Babcox Publishing)

While day one of the 2007 GAAS (Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium) in Chicago provided insights and perspectives from experts working within every channel of the automotive aftermarket, day two kicked off with a somewhat different perspective – that of the end user, the U.S. driver.

John Nielsen, national director of AAA, this morning provided GAAS attendees with insights into the typical AAA member and their vehicular habits.

There are 50 million members of AAA today, roughly equal to one out of four households in the U.S. On average, these members drive nearly 13,000 miles a year. Fifty-five percent of AAA members are female and the average age of an AAA member is 50.2 years old. They are college educated homeowners who have household income of more than $60,000 a year, on average.

According to Nielsen, a significant number of AAA members consider themselves DIYers; 43 percent of AAA members say they do some work on their own cars and 11 percent did at least some DIY work (repair/maintenance) in the past 12 months. When not doing DIY work, 56 percent of AAA members say they go to the dealership for repair work; 42 percent go to an independent repair facility and 29 percent go to quick lube facilities. AAA members have serious concerns when they don’t do automotive maintenance and repair themselves; they have a lack of trust in repair facilities, Nielsen said.

What drives AAA members to certain repair facilities? Fairness of charges and quality of work are the top two factors drivers use when selecting a repair facility, said Nielsen. Other leading factors were the ability to diagnose problems properly, getting a clear explanation of charges, the ability to fix problems on the first visit and having their vehicles ready when promised. Just being pleasant and helpful, Nielsen said, goes a long way in creating a positive service experience for a motorist.

“Motorists are generally distrustful,” said Nielsen. “What keeps them satisfied is courtesy and helpfulness of service personnel. The lack of that can move a member from satisfied to neutral.”

In his presentation, Nielsen outlined the four keys that he considers ‘survival basics’ for repair shops today. Those include: good communication, quality of goods and services, follow-through and staffing for success.

“It’s the people that will make your business. It’s the folks that interact with customers that will ultimately drive the success of your shop,” Nielsen said.

How can repair shops increase their slice of the service and repair pie? Communicate better, make it easy to do business with you, build your brand and show them you care, said Nielsen.

“It takes two visits to a repair shop to get comfortable,” said Nielsen. “[During] the first visit they are pretty much on their guard,” said Nielsen. Maintaining what you have, not losing that [those repeat customers] is the key, he said.

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