CAT Council: supplier (M-Z) responses

Gareth Flower

Gareth Flower

“Garage systems and online catalogues play vital roles in helping aftermarket businesses remain competitive.

Garage systems enable workshops to increase their professionalism, productivity and profitability. They allow work to be scheduled efficiently, finances to be closely administered and enable customer relationships to be nurtured.

Electronic/internet parts catalogues save both time and money by helping to achieve first-time-fit. Indexed against VRM and other vehicle data, they provide fast access to accurate fitment information. Quick and easy for suppliers to update, they ensure factors and garages receive up-to-date product data.”

Gareth Flower, MAM

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Damian Milling

Damian Milling

“73 percent of UK internet users are currently using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, can we afford not to get social?

As a primarily free marketing and interaction media, social networking sites have become an integral part of our world, the innocent lure of talking to friends old and new through the online universe is enough to entice people onto the sites, enabling companies such as ours to engage with users in a passive and potentially profitable way.

What does this mean for the future? Already large corporate companies are using social media sites to launch ad campaigns and product launches, camouflaged in fun competitions and conversation topics, like me, poke me, add me, are all everyday phrases in the world of social media but with 58 percent of all users being female the task of engagement for the automotive industry may place us slightly on the back foot, but it is still not one to be dismissed. Promoting the values and personality of your brand can actively increase interaction and sales with current and potential customers.

We all live in the time of now, offers and promotions find us, we no longer find them so to compete in this competitive market social media is a cornerstone of success. Backed up with good old fashioned service, reliability and trust you will be on to a winner. The future is here, social media is a must if we are to continue to be successful.”

Damian Milling, Mill Auto

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Dan Kimpton

Dan Kimpton

“I think the Motor Trade moved very quickly to adopt the Internet.  The problem was that it is cheaper and easier to move onto sites like E-bay or Amazon rather than build a website from scratch that directs traffic to the store itself.  All of the major retailers in the UK use their website to promote products and offers as well as offer technical support.

It is this next stage that the Motor Trade has not been able to capitalise on and it has affected the ability to sell premium products for premium prices.  The motor trade’s need to sell as cheaply as possible on all products has affected the quality and reputation of the aftermarket and this is where we need to change the attitudes and allow products to sell for their true value.”

Dan Kimpton, Mountney

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Gerard Irving

Gerard Irving

“Use of the internet and social media is still in its infancy in the UK automotive aftermarket, but that will change and it will become a more important medium as younger professionals rise to more senior positions and become garage proprietors and workshop managers.

As a company, NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd uses Facebook and Twitter and also has an F1 Pitboard app on our website (www.ngkntk.co.uk) which gives motorsport enthusiasts the latest F1 news.

We are looking to encourage more of our customers to interface with us via the social media and have just started to run competitions on Facebook and Twitter to encourage them to do so. Facebook and Twitter are a great way for people to keep informed about NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd’s activities and we want to encourage more people to use this facility.

Our social presence will allow customers to keep up-to-date with the latest industry news and also our involvement in the field of motorsport, with details of the teams and competitors we sponsor. It also enables us to answer any specific technical question a customer may have.

It is becoming more vital than ever for businesses to have a social media presence as consumers are increasingly using the internet as a major part of their purchasing process.”

Gerard Irving, NGK

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Richard Shortis

Richard Shortis

“In general I think the aftermarket has embraced the internet very poorly, OK some companies have done it better than others, but most in our trade at best might have a static website which has probably been up for years with no changes done too it. They up it up on the internet and think that is it, we are on the internet now every one can see us!  We have what we think is a big internet presence, but in the scale of things it is small, but that is something that we are looking at changing and improving very soon. As for social media well that is none existent in our trade really.

The internet can be a very good tool for doing business on, but if you get it wrong it can also be very expensive to use, if you really analyse the staff costs, delivery cost and the pound of flesh that companies like Ebay and amazon charge you for using their sites.

If you have a database of customers you can easily communicate with them as ling as it does not go into the spam file, you also have to be careful not to put off customer by bombarding them with unwanted emails.

Yes you can use the internet to bring customer to your door (does depends what type of business you have) but its down side it is also very easy for potential to compare business now or offers on line.”

Richard Shortis, the Shortis Group

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David Kent

David Kent

“Forget Facebook. Forget Twitter.  If you are a small independent automotive aftermarket retailer the most important internet related tool you can use is a database of e-mail addresses.

Find a way to collect e-mails from every single person who ever shops with you, get involved with local car enthusiast clubs etc. and be creative about collecting addresses.  Pay someone to make you a professional mail template and then make sure you contact your database regularly and selectively (but not obsessively!) with tempting offers and suggestions aimed at getting them to come through the door.

Use it to make your customers feel valued. Surprise them with your good range and competitive pricing.  Ensure that you are the first place they think of visiting for their automotive needs. It will be the cheapest, most effective piece of marketing you ever do.”

David Kent, Saxon

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Shaun Greasley

Shaun Greasley

“Obviously the work that goes into producing a catalogue is the same whether it’s a paper or online format, but the big advantage with online is the ability to update, amend and supersede the data. It also means that updating is a continuous process and therefore more manageable, rather than a periodic, very time consuming one.

As distributors and garages will testify, supplying the wrong part is a major cost to the industry and very time consuming and this problem is one of the key benefits that the TecDoc CATALOG system can solve by allowing users to identify the right part, first time.”

Shaun Greasley, TecDoc

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James McCaughey

James McCaughey

“Ultimately the aftermarket can use the internet / social media to both enhance its professional image and foster a closer relationship with customers. I’m not suggesting that we all run out immediately and open a Facebook account but we should all give some serious thought to how our business in portrayed on the web and if your not engaged with social media in some way are you missing out or are your competitors already there and reaping the benefits.”

James McCaughey, Tenneco

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“The internet has drastically improved efficiency and is already widely used within the aftermarket. It provides an effective method for streamlining parts ordering functions, accuracy of product selection and additional functionality for garage management systems, such as service schedules and technical information.

Through AlliCat Online and GS Onestop we provide our ten members with an effective online communication solution to connect to their garage customers. These maximise the power of the internet to improve trade communications, supply chains, resulting in improved service for our busy garage customers.

As a business group of ten individual companies, we are very used to working with distributed systems at a much deeper level than is normal for our industry.  The internet has provided an effective framework for this type of communication and trade between  our members and their customers,  Some of the biggest benefits of this approach are only just becoming apparent from a workshop perspective, as we move beyond simple ‘shopping baskets’ for parts ordering, to more advanced and efficient types of trading.

In today’s increasingly online world, it is evident that communicating via the internet is also coming into even greater focus when it comes to the motorist. Once garages have invested in improving their offer, they must then become mindful of using the internet and social media channels to communicate this high quality service and their technical capabilities to the consumer, to gain both their attention and custom.

Although a number of independent garages do have their own website, due to the time constraints of running a workshop, it is not always a priority. However, a growing number of motorists are now looking online to find the services they require and recent survey of 12,000 motorists found that 32% use the internet to research aftermarket products before buying services*. It is therefore essential that garages increase their online presence to maximise their customer base, grow their local profile and generate positive customer feedback to ultimately increase sales.

With 60 percent of the UK population accessing the internet every day and 45 percent registered as Facebook users, there is undoubtedly a significant opportunity for independent garages to engage with consumers. Things are moving forward fast online and garages need to keep up with the pace.”

Andrew Field, The Parts Alliance

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Jon Sellars

Jon Sellars

“More than 70 percent of TRW’s European orders are generated on-line, via www.trwaftermarket.com and TecCom.

Like other B2B industries, we see significant potential in online lead generation. In line with recent technology development, we’ve stepped up a gear and invested heavily in web content management and e-mail marketing:

  • 2012 will see the launch of a technical portal on the website for distributors and installers
  • Our on-line video platform received 10,000 plays in the past three months!

We have implemented social media pilots and constantly monitor developments; although few companies in any industry have yet to demonstrate a tangible return on investment.”

Jon Sellars, TRW

This post was written by:

- who has written 295 posts on CAT Magazine.

CAT magazine's in-house reporter and self-confessed petrol head

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