Archive | November, 2016

TAKE A SELFIE AND WIN!

Promotion from HELLA

Take a photo with you featuring one of the HELLA family logos – HELLA, Hella Gutmann Solutions, Behr Hella Service and now Sonne – either on a product, product box, in an advert, wherever and post to the HELLA UK facebook page (www.facebook.com/hella.uk/) with #HellaSelfie.

The top 3 entries with the most likes at the end of the competition will win a CTEK Battery charger and CTEK battery analyser worth £300!

The closing date when the most popular selfies will be chosen is Friday 23rd December 2016.

It’s that easy.

We look forward to seeing some great photos of you.

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IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM

Ahmed Khot invites us down to Heston Auto Parts in Hounslow

heston_auto_factorsThe business started in 1999 with Ahmed Khot running the shop after his father passed away.

Prior to the store’s opening, Khot’s father had been an active figure in the UAE aftermarket. “My father’s originally from India and he went over to Dubai where he set up a massive network of auto parts companies”, explained Khot: “We had 11 branches in the Middle East that we used to export from and with the experience my father accumulated out there, he brought it back to the UK”.

Khot’s father set up six factors in the UK but due to illness, he closed all the partnerships leaving Ahmed in charge of Heston Auto Parts to continue his work.

BUSINESS STRATEGY
Establishing a store in Hounslow which is a member of the CAAR buying group, led to a number of opportunities. Although this is a highly contested patch for all parts of the trade, Khot noticed the number of private hire companies in the area that served Heathrow airport “We looked at specific cars of our local market which are mainly cabs and chauffer companies, so we’ve targeted them and made sure we’ve have kept the necessary day-to-day parts in stock available so that when they come in we’ve got it” he said.

Interestingly, Khot has looked at the dozen or so businesses that exist on a small industrial area behind his store and has worked out ways of doing business with them all, rather than working against them. A partnership with one named A&N Auto Repairs for example has helped Khot find gaps for growth and margin opportunities while supplying spares to the technicians on a daily basis. “We’ve learnt a lot from them so we tend to know what’s going on in the market” he says. Having strong links with the local MOT centres has brought in more orders and kept those tills ringing each week.

DISTRIBUTION
Again, using Khot’s business philosophy of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’, he has used the giant GSF Car Parts branch in nearby North Feltham to his advantage. “GSF has really supported us and has been a big help with technical information and boosting our knowledge of the European side”, he said. Equally, he doesn’t consider Euro Car Parts, who are very strong in the local area, to be an enemy. “With ECP, you always need a big brother on your side instead of fighting them, be with them” added Khot.

The firm now holds over 140 customer accounts and sends a lot of parts to Africa. Being part of the CAAR Group has also got its perks, allowing the factor to develop its online market and distribute to its European customers.

PRODUCTS AND STOCK
With the value of stock totalling £225,000, Khot has invested heavily in MAM catalogue software to monitor his wares, especially with the recent £20,000 extension that now houses a range of braking, suspension and spark plug parts. “We have invested quite heavily in MAM and it’s needed because of the size of our store that goes right out the back”. He explained that half the shop is dedicated to service kits and filtration that has proved a popular sell to DIY mechanics.

UPSELLING
As we enter the prime time for flat batteries and MOT services, Khot plans to bring his battery wares and ancillaries to the front of the store in a bid to up-sell to garages during the winter period. “I will be bringing our winter products and batteries to the front of the store, keeping all our summer wares at the bottom”. He added: “We have recently gone into parts for motorcycles and scooters and it’s proving to be quite good”.

The weak pound has been no barrier for the parts supplier. In fact, there are expansion plans afoot. “We want to start developing more product lines and importing products from abroad again” said Khot. “We are trying to look for a place for an MOT station which will have a motor factor at the front and will be two-in-one to take our business one step further”.

We look forward to catching up with Khot and his team again soon to find out how the new MOT and motor factor business has taken off.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Out and About with CATComments (0)

SMART FOR TWO 1998-2014

sf2

Way back in the 1990s, watch manufacturer Swatch had an idea that the manufacturing principle that it used to produce watches could be applied to cars. To cut a long and tortuous development story short, a deal was signed with Daimler Chrysler (as the company was then) and an all-new factory was built in Hambach which became known as ‘Smartville’.

Cars went on sale from 1998 with RHD versions (and official UK imports) from 2000. Having been through three generations, the two-seater model (originally known as City Coupé, latterly as For Two) it is the first two iterations that this guide is concerned with and most of this information can also be applied to the sort-live Smart Roadster. The three-cylinder petrol engine fitted to the vast majority of these vehicles received various upgrades throughout the production cycle, notably a start/stop system from 2008. There’s also a Mitsubishi- powered diesel fitted in some later cars as well as an all electric version, though these are rare.

ENGINE
The elephant in the room with petrol versions of these cars is the engine. Very early cars have a 599cc, three- cylinder twinspark unit, while later ones have 698cc and 999cc respectively. Loosely speaking, the the older the engine is, the fewer miles it will cover until a rebuild becomes necessary. According to specialist workshop Fudge Smart, the problem is with the oil control rings. These become ‘gunged up’ and prevent the oil being scraped back down to the sump. Instead it remains in the top end, causing the valves to burn out.

These engines are comparatively cheap to rebuild, but taking in a vehicle that needs such work is likely to knock out any profit that could have been made. Oil smoke and a misfire due to a lack of compression are the most common symptoms.

Not every misfire is a doomed engine. If you are lucky, it might just be the coil pack or the HT lead insulators – both are common faults on the ForTwo.

As with any forced induction engine, oil starvation can wreck the turbocharger. Luckily, this range seems to have pretty durable turbos as we haven’t heard many reports of them needing replacement.

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

Another common, and thankfully less serious, Fortwo engine part that puts the dash light on is the oil pressure switch. While a failing switch might be the cause of an oil leak, an intermittent illumination of the warning light may be the result of the pressure sensing part of the switch weakening. Technicians should also note that these engines are known to burn oil and therefore the oil level should be checked at the correct temperature and on level ground before diagnosis begins. (While the switch monitors oil pressure, very low oil level and air being drawn into the oil pump, has been known to cause the warning light to come on). An oil pressure check using an external, calibrated, oil pressure gauge should be used to also confirm the correct oil pressure before replacing the switch.

ELECTRICS
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the lights although unless you have pipe cleaner arms the headlamp bulbs are a swine to change.

If the car won’t start and the indicators flash nine times when the key fob button is pressed, then the key needs to be recoded.

Roadsters have a specific issue where the wipers are impossible to switch off. This requires a new motor, but at least you won’t get any parking tickets.

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

Tridion cell makes vehicle safer than many believe

INTERIOR
Must and damp in the interior will probably be due to leaking quarter or rear windows as these. Evilution.co.uk suggest that this is due to the original sealant giving up. Simply re-sealing the windows should keep the inside dry.

TRANSMISSION
TecRMI point out that on early versions of the car, a faulty brake light switch can cause problems when selecting reverse while later versions brake light switch, clutch and software issues can cause difficulty in selecting reverse (N flashing on display).

EMISSIONS
Lambda sensors are a popular Cambiare part for these cars, often being replaced to get a car through the emissions section of an MOT test. Technicians should bear in mind that a spilt crankcase breather pipe can allow unmetered air into the engine and cause emissions related problems (causing lambda sensor and/or air flow meter fault codes). A blocked breather can increase crankcase pressure leading to increased oil consumption and again emission related issues. The breathers should be checked before replacing a lambda sensor unnecessarily.

SAM CONTROL UNIT
The SAM unit, according to 4smart.co.uk, can be a costly repair if it fails; with the main cause of failure being water ingress although this usually only affects roadsters. As with many parts of the Smart, the SAM is an unconventional design, as it is both a fuse box and an ECU in one combined unit. While it is possible to obtain a brand new unit from the dealer it is very expensive, so most in the trade will send them to a specialist for a rebuild. Note that you’ll need to send the main ECU along with it.

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FOUR WAYS TO DRIVE SALES TECH ADOPTION

There’s a way to upgrade your systems without downgrading your profit

paul_black

Earlier this year, Matthias Muller – chief executive of Volkswagen – remarked that the automotive industry’s reluctance to embrace new tools could cause its status to be “downgraded to that of a hardware supplier.”

He’s both wrong and right. He’s wrong in that the automotive and aftermarket industries are making great strides in manufacturing technology: functions like fleet management, maintenance, and even driving itself may be fully or partially digitised within a few years. According to Business Insider magazine, it’s expected that connected cars will generate $8.1 billion in profit before 2020.

However, Muller is right when it comes to everyday business functions such as sales, marketing, and customer service, where technology is often shunned instead of embraced. In these areas and more, technology can make a significant difference, cushioning your company against the impact of an industry slump, and laying the foundations for a profitable future.

But it won’t do either if your company and its employees aren’t fully on board. Implementing new tools and applications will be vital in ensuring the company can evolve and remain competitive, but when your staff are used to doing things a certain way, it can be hard to persuade them to do them differently. Introducing these four technology adoption initiatives will go some way towards getting your staff on side. The aftermarket may be facing some difficult times: a study from Euler Holmes, the global credit trade insurer, forecast a nine percent downturn over 2017. Attitudes to technology will, for better or worse, impact future revenues, and a failure to adapt is unlikely to be sustainable or profitable in the short and long term. The more flexible, collaborative and encouraging you are with technology, the more your company will get out of it.

THE FOUR WAYS TO GET YOUR TEAM SELLING

1. Establish staff requirements across the business
At the very least, business tools and applications should be unobtrusive. At the very best, they should help your employees do their jobs more effectively, efficiently, and productively.

And if you’re going to roll out a new tool or application across several departments, it should be implemented with the needs of every potential user firmly in mind. Your sales team and customer service team will both need a level of access to, for example, a CRM system, but if you’re going to give one team full privileges and another limited privileges, you need to be able to explain your reasoning.

The best way to pre-empt any potential issues is to simply consult the relevant departments in advance of any rollout. Be prepared to justify the addition of this new technology, and to suggest ways that it might help them perform their job duties. Even better, get them involved in your decision-making process when looking into the available solutions.

2. Get staff up to speed
If the aftermarket is slightly technophobic, it has nothing on the wider sales profession. Entire books have been written about its reluctance to embrace new tools. They’re not alone in this: old habits and patterns are hard for anyone to break. The upshot of this is that you can’t just install a new application and say “good luck”: your staff needs the proper training.

It doesn’t matter whether you organise for this to be done in-house, or if you pay a third party to organise some semi-regular sessions. What matters is that your employees understand how to use it at the required level . If your salespeople are using the system to nurture new leads, if your account managers are using it to cross sell coil springs to customers who routinely buy driveshafts, and if your service team are using it to resolve problems, they’ll all need the proper guidance.

3. Be realistic
Technology isn’t a miracle cure-all. I can say for sure that selling in the aftermarket is part science, but the other part is pure art. A computer can’t get a tentative prospect over the line; it can’t keep a faltering customer relationship from sounding its death rattle; it won’t turn that one-off purchase of brake fluid into a recurring bulk order for engine parts.

Don’t sell tech adoption as a solution to your team’s problems. It’s there to help them focus on their problems with minimal distractions or intrusions and to remove boring admin such as data entry and meeting preparation. Tech adoption won’t let your team go on autopilot – it simply lets their skills do the talking.

4. Welcome feedback
Finally, tech adoption isn’t a one- and-done thing. Sometimes the software won’t perform as well as it should; sometimes it’ll evolve and iterate to the point where it’s unrecognisable; sometimes staff needs will simply change.

Listen to your team if they raise concerns, and when the software succeeds, show them. Let them know that, for all their gripes and difficulties, the technology is making a significant difference – even if it doesn’t feel significant as they’re using it.

Posted in CAT Know-HowComments (0)

AUTUMN STATEMENT: AFTERMARKET REACTION

AUTUMN STATEMENT: AFTERMARKET REACTION

There have been a number of statements issued by trade bodies and businesses across the motor industry, following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

Fuel Price

A freeze in fuel duty was welcomed by most, including Charlie Elphicke MP for Dover and Chair of APPG for the Fair Fuel campaign. He said: “I’m delighted the Chancellor listened to the concerns of drivers up and down the land. He is absolutely right to put more money in the pockets of hard-pressed families and small businesses.”

Brian Madderson, Chair of the RMI’s Petrol Retail Assoc. also broadly welcomed the news. “In 2016 the freeze in duty boosted GDP by 0.57%, generated 112,000 new jobs and put £5.3bn back into hard working Brits consumer spending. It also bolstered tax revenues by 0.2%” he said.

“Trend volume sales in diesel have delivered a tax windfall to the Treasury of £1 billion and we will be looking to persuade the Chancellor to deliver an actual fuel duty cut in the Spring 2017 Budget”.

However, Madderson’s glee was not shared by TV presenter Quentin Willson who said: “I’m disappointed that the Chancellor didn’t instantly put money into everyone’s pockets by cutting duty. There’s an immediate benefit to the economy. I’m surprised too given the CEBR has said cutting duty by 3p wouldn’t change net tax receipts. This is a lost opportunity from a government still afraid of supporting drivers and roads”.

Infrastructure

The Chancellor pledged a significant amount for rebuilding the UK’s crumbling road network. This went down with most people, including contract hire firm LeasePlan’s MD Matt Dyer, who said: ““The vehicle rental and leasing industry contributes £24.9 billion a year to the UK economy and in 2015 the leasing industry accounted for half the number of new cars registered on the road. So this news will be especially pleasing for businesses, whose roads have suffered from poor organisation, congestion and pitted surfaces for decades. These roads are vital for the businesses that will power the country through years of lower-than-expected growth, so it is reassuring that the UK Government now views this as a priority.”

However, Dyer’s enthusiasm for infrastructure was tempered by a complex rule change regarding ‘salary sacrifice’, a mechanism where people can pay into a plan to lease a vehicle for work, a change that obviously affects the leasing sector.

SMMT also welcomed the infrastructure plans, but added a caveat. “SMMT welcomes the government’s commitment to improving infrastructure and investment in R&D, an area in which UK automotive punches above its weight” said Mike Hawes, Chief Exec of the Society. “We are, however, disappointed that the government has not done more on business rate reform. SMMT called for the removal of plant and machinery from business rates valuation, which would have helped encourage further investment at this time of great uncertainty”.

Motor Insurance

Jason Moseley of RMI Bodyshops was glad of plans to reform insurance claims, particularly those for whiplash. “We welcome the chancellor’s announcement to tackle the whiplash epidemic, and plan new reforms will crack down on minor, exaggerated and fraudulent claims” he said.

“The news means that millions of motorists could see their car insurance premiums cut by around £40 a year as a result”.

Whiplash claims have risen by 50% over the last decade, costing insurance companies about £1bn a year.

However, Ian Hughes, chief executive of Consumer Intelligence sounded a note of caution: “The first thing drivers should notice is a reduction in nuisance calls from predatory claims companies.  The need to produce medical evidence means that whiplash claims are no longer an easy and profitable for the “no win, no fee” market” he said.

“Drivers would also be wise to shop around to test whether their insurer is indeed lowering their premium in line with promises. There have been false dawns before. Insurers promised to pass on the savings when the LASPO (Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders) reforms came in three years ago. But when those reforms didn’t deliver the reduction in claims that insurers expected, rates rose again and are up 13.5% in a single year” he concluded.

Posted in Factor & Supplier News, Garage News, Latest News, NewsComments (0)

GO OE THIS WINTER FOR SAFE BRAKING

pagid-cover-image

PROMOTIONAL ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF PAGID PROFESSIONAL

The winter can be harsh. Treacherous conditions are rife, and driving in the rain, snow or ice can bring about many accidents. While driver skill plays a part, equipment often plays a bigger role. There’s no point in having the reaction speed of a caffeinated fox when the vehicle’s brakes are shot.

To help explain this to your customers this winter, Pagid is working with garages across the UK to help them give the best care and advice to their customers, whilst also providing upsell opportunities. One such opportunity is for brakes, and ensuring brake pads are up to scratch for those awful winter conditions.

Sludge, dirt and salt, during winter, are not a brake’s best friend. They can all build up inside vital brake parts, affecting performance and corrosion. So, the best friction is required to prevent this from happening, and ensuring brakes work effectively, even in the wet, snow and ice.

Pagid’s first recommendation is to ask customers if they have felt or heard any symptoms that may alert you to worn or damaged brakes. Squeaking, clicking or grinding noises can all point to issues, as would a shuddering or pulling sensation when braking. These are clear signs that brake maintenance (and likely replacement) is in order.

Another opportunity to ensure customers are ready for anything this winter, is to offer to check through customer brake parts as part of a winter check. Looking especially close at the condition across the axle to avoid a potential spin. Ask your customers if they’d like a full brake check when they come in for other work, to help make sure they are as safe and ready for winter elements.

Of course, if new parts are required, always choose the OE-approved braking solutions, such as Pagid. These will ensure that your customers will be best placed to avoid or safely negotiate hazards during the tricky winter conditions. They’re OE-approved for a reason.

With cover for 99% of vehicle makes and models, and have excellent availability, service and support, Pagid delivers the complete braking solution for winter brake parts. Explaining this to your customers will reassure them that Pagid is the best choice for winter braking. For more advice on winter braking, visit www.pagidprofessional.co.uk.

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ISSUES FACING INDEPENDENTS ‘MORE COMPLEX THAN EVER’

Andy Savva

Andy Savva, Managing Director of Savva Automotive, filled a seminar room at a recent trade show with his presentation, ‘A New Service Way: Effective and Efficient workshop’ aimed at boosting productivity, margins and morale within the independent garage.

“The issues facing us working in the independent sector are more complex and challenging than ever before”, he said. “From human resources to competition from fast-fits and dealers, your actual image, tooling, training and of course, technical advancements in vehicle design are all problems we as an industry are facing”.

During his presentation at Mechanex Sandown, the garage entrepreneur displayed images, comparing ‘good’ and ‘bad’ garages in 2016 that he worked with; explaining that employers should be maintaining a healthy and safe working environment, with tools labelled and placed in an appropriate area to utilise workshop capacity effectively.

Savva also provided guidance to help garages calculate the correct labour rate instead of charging the ‘going rate in the area’ for individual businesses while attempting to bridge the gap between independent and franchised garages. He said: “Generally, independent garages see franchised garages as competitors and franchised garages historically, put us down as independents” he continued: “I believe we both should be a collective progressive, professional sector where a consumer has the choice to go and have their car repaired properly in an honest fashion. I don’t believe we should have this culture of ‘them and us’ because that’s what’s keeping us segregated and our industry unprofessional”.

Other industry talks included: ‘DPF Diagnosis, Recovery and Repair’ orchestrated by ADS Director Frank Massey and ‘The Future of MOT training’ hosted by representatives from the RMI.

Posted in Garage News, NewsComments (0)

NFDA: ‘MORE PEOPLE USING FRANCHISE WORKSHOPS’

car-dealership

A recent survey conducted by the RMI’s National Francise Dealer Association (NFDA) found that more people are using franchise dealerships for aftersales than six months ago. Apparently, 35 percent of people use franchise dealers for aftersales compared to 30 percent of people using independent garages.

The survey polled 1,000 consumers across the UK in a 15 minute online survey. The objectives were to ‘explore current consumer perceptions of franchised dealers and their competitors’ as well as to ‘understand consumer aftersales behaviour’.

Curiously, the poll compared data with that taken six months’ earlier, rather than comparing year-on-year.

Sue Robinson, NFDA Director said, “The survey has demonstrated that consumers are pleased with the quality of aftersales at franchised dealers. The increase in the number of consumers using franchised dealerships demonstrates that service plans and good customer service have led to greater customer numbers.”

A separate survey carried out on behalf of the Independent Garage Association, which is also part of the RMI, found that 97 percent of respondents were likely to use their independent garage again.

Posted in Garage News, NewsComments (2)

AUTOINFORM GOES LIVE THIS WEEKEND

There’s just time to get your hands on one of the last places for this year’s Autoinform LIVE event, being held this weekend at the GTG Academy in Wolverhampton.

The event is the UK’s biggest and best workshop training event, featuring 24 timetabled training sessions – each delivered by an OESAA-approved trainer – separated into three colour-coded packages to help simplify the event for new attendees.

Autoinform LIVE has carefully tailored its package options to suit delegates old and new, with ‘Green’ modules aimed at first time visitors, ‘Amber’ sessions targeted at those who have visited the event twice and ‘Red’ for those who have attended every show since it began three years ago. (More information on the training modules available can be found here)

A gala dinner will once again take place on Saturday evening, with popular comedian Mick Miller now confirmed to help provide a lively end to the first day. The entire weekend costs just £195 +VAT, which includes all training, lunch and refreshments at the GTG Academy, plus a Gala Dinner ticket including welcome drinks, meal, entertainment and coach transfers from selected hotels.rsz_gtgwolverhampton

Posted in Garage News, Greg Whitaker's diary, NewsComments (0)

TRW NOMINATED FOR IAAF SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR AWARD

PROMOTION ARTICLE ON BEHALF OF TRW AFTERMARKET

trw_original_campaign

TRW Aftermarket has been nominated for the award of ‘Car Supplier of the Year’ by eminent industry body the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF). The winner will be announced in front of almost 600 of the sector’s most influential figures at the IAAF Annual Dinner held at the ICC Birmingham on December 15.

TRW Aftermarket, the leading global supplier of OE quality Corner Module – braking, steering & suspension – parts and systems, is one of 19 suppliers nominated for this award. The IAAF awards are especially meaningful within the UK aftermarket as they are voted for by its members.

As part of a global automotive powerhouse, TRW Aftermarket directly translates OE knowledge, technology and innovation into its Aftermarket offer. The nomination not only reflects its leading Corner Module portfolio and the commercial benefits of dealing with one supplier, but the added value extras which make it the partner of choice across the UK aftermarket, such as: Tech Corner, its free on-line technical resource, membership of the automotive Diamonds customer loyalty programme and innate industry knowledge which enables the brand to meet ever changing market requirements.

To vote, IAAF members should access www.iaaf.co.uk click on the link and follow the step-by-step guide to choose their preferred supplier. All votes must be registered by 18th November. Distributors will judge suppliers using a set of criteria in categories such as: quality, performance, range, availability and marketing and sales support.

TRW’s UK marketing manager, Kevin Price, commented: “To be nominated for this award is an honour. There are many outstanding brand names operating within the UK, so the standard of opposition is incredibly high.

“As a global brand and all that offers, including: increasing manufacturing footprint, worldwide industry expertise and technical innovation, we are very proud to have retained a local perspective.”

Kevin concluded: “This nomination reflects the hard work and relationship building which goes on behind the scenes on a day to day basis, and we are thrilled to be nominated by an industry body that shares our ethos for a safe, ever developing, open and transparent UK aftermarket.”

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