Best known for being the Group Factor Manager at Arnold Clark Autoparts for decades, Glaswegian Craig McCracken has taken over the rotating presidency term at the Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation. We caught up with him to find out what he had planned for the term of office:
Q: What do you plan for your time as president?
My job is to just try and highlight in my own language, what the IAAF does, to a bigger audience.
I’m still amazed at the amount of people that are in the industry that certainly they’ve never heard of the IAAF and even some members don’t actually know what it is that we do. That said, it helps that I’m often in meetings with suppliers; In the aftermarket, it’s only when you sit in front of people that you realise there is a massive audience out there… and these guys are hungry for information.
The other thing that I’m hoping to do is to get more motor factors on to the council. When I joined it was very heavily supplier led, and there were a bunch of suppliers, one or two factors and nobody representing the garages. I just think at that time it was a supplier organisation, rather than one that represented factors. So we are making changes and hopefully under my tenure that we’ll be able to get some really high-profile factor owners joining. I’ve had conversations with some of the big groups already and these guys are really interested to join so they can put their ideas across at the meetings.
So a lot of these guys don’t understand what we were discussing at the meetings, which can be very packed full of information. Mark puts a heck of a lot of effort into planning the meetings and getting other speakers in, both suppliers and from other industries.
We have a new website being built which is easier to navigate and we’re changing the logo and perhaps a couple of other things like that.
Q: The IAAF’s membership is mainly hard parts suppliers. Are you planning to reach different sectors, for example motor factors and consumer accessory retailers?
Yes. Even some of the biggest accessory suppliers didn’t really see the benefits of the IAAF until Mark (Field, IAAF Chief Exec), went up and visited them to explain what we do. We tend to automatically assume that everyone knows us, and what we have to offer. However, we need to remember that a lot of the information Mark is passing on might only get to the marketing department or salesperson. I think the main thing we’re trying to make sure of is ‘stakeholder engagement’, where the person at the top of the organisation gets full information and is aware of what we do.
Q: Why do you think factors have been underrepresented up to this point?
One, I don’t think they fully understand what happens at a council meeting. We’ve got a lot on the agenda during the four hour meetings and a lot of it that they could benefit from. For example, we had Dave Reece from School of thought talking about apprenticeships last time and there are numerous different people, all related to our industry. The IAAF is a very good umbrella for people to come under, to communicate and to network.
Q: When you became President, you said that you wanted to make clear the ‘tangible benefits’ of joining the organisation. What benefits were you referring to?
For example this year we’ll be launching the new Monthly Market Intelligence Report. It’s a GiPA report, really in depth. It shows MOT data, car registrations and much more. The feedback since we launched it has been absolutely fantastic.
Another benefit is the greater networking capabilities. We’ve got the regional meetings as I mentioned, plus the annual conference and awards dinner which is always a big draw for new members. I’m not a golfer, but when you mention dinners and golf to people and suggest that they bring their customers along to that, they like it.
It really shows the market what the IAAF was before covid, because I think [during the lockdown period] the market kind of forgot about us. When that was happening I think we all went to sleep for a wee while!
The next IAAF member’s meeting will be at the GTG Academy in Wolverhampton on May 18th, while the next IAAF networking event will take place on Tuesday 6 June at Resorts World Birmingham.