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Tackling Industry Challenges

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Aug. 15, 2022In an industry as vast as the automotive aftermarket, it can be easy to forget that some challenges are shared among nearly all of its members. Part of the reason things can get cloudy could be because sometimes the issues at hand can feel distinctly out of reach. 

There can be frustration around persist problems within this industry, since they can happen at a high level that feels impractical for a single shop to do anything about it. What can the industry do to approach these challenges? How can the industry come together to make change? 


An example of a higher-level industry topic surrounds the Right to Repair. The Massachusetts Right to Repair law decision was delayed for a sixth time in July 2022, and now sits in legal limbo until a final decision is made. It is a decision the entire industry is waiting on with baited breath, as it could mean big things for data and access regarding aftermarket repairs. 


Bill Hanvey, president and CEO of the Auto Care Association, has a front-row seat to the intricacies of industry issues such as the Right to Repair. The Auto Care Association represents a multitude of automotive industry sectors. 


“We represent the entire independent repair chain starting from tier one manufacturers all the way down to the local repair shop on the corner of Elm and Main and everybody else in between,” Hanvey says. 


Given this large network, Hanvey sees the collective power of the automotive industry as a whole. He believes everyone within the industry can come together and make some really impactful noise regarding Right to Repair. 


“What's so fundamental is that people have to understand that they do have a voice,” Hanvey says. “Yes, the [Auto Care Association] has got this on behalf of the industry, but we need the collective 4.5 million people within our industry to raise their voice about their right to be able to repair vehicles on behalf of the consumer.”


The Right to Repair can be an intimidating topic, but Hanvey stresses that the role shop owners can play in getting the word out about Right to Repair is extremely important. Hanvey believes every shop owner can make a difference, and there are some easy ways to get started.


“Shop owners, please contact your local Congressperson, please. Go visit your local Congressperson. Please sign our petition that you can find on our website that supports the Right to Repair,” Hanvey says. “It's a very simple thing, but politicians listen to folks within their district that pay taxes and employ people, and certainly the shop owners meet all those requirements. We need the industry to be active on this.”


Additionally, Hanvey points out that the Right to Repair goes beyond those directly involved in the industry. At its core, the Right to Repair is about consumers as well. That said, Hanvey says it is critical for shop owners to relay information to customers. 


“[Shop owners] have a fundamental responsibility as business owners that are protecting their own interests and as members of this autocare community to educate the consumers as to the threat that’s looming.” Hanvey says. 


Information for shop owners to share can be found on the Auto Care Association website. Shops can print out resources from the website to hang in their shops, along with a QR code that allows an individual to follow a link for sending a letter to their legislators. 


Right to Repair is obviously a massive topic that won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. But there are many other topics at play throughout the industry that the Auto Care Association aims to help educate the industry members on and provide opportunities for advocacy. 


“The Auto Care Association does a tremendous job in terms of the education and the advocacy piece,” Hanvey says.


One of the ways that the Auto Care Association relays information on industry-wide topics, such as shifts in vehicle technology, is through speaking directly to industry members. 


“It’s just good old-fashioned grassroots, to be quite honest with you,” Hanvey says. “Our communications team puts out a tremendous amount of information on this. My ask of the industry is that the shop owners become more in tune with when they hear this to take an active role. Become participative in the government process or the regulatory process, let your voice be heard.”


Regardless of the topic at hand, Hanvey believes that the best strategy for a shop owner is a willingness to educate not only themselves but also their team members and customers alike. Hanvey encourages taking responsibility for the causes that shop owners believe in. 


“You have to be aware of the issue. You have to take the assumption that no one has your back and that you are going to take this cause on yourself and do what you can do to help amplify our voice in Washington at the state level and so on and so forth,” Hanvey says. 


Hanvey says that he sees this industry as one that has always been able to adapt, and he doesn’t see that changing as long as industry members continue to educate, engage, and share.


“That's the one thing that shop owners can do is really commit to themselves that they will educate their consumers, not just from the technology standpoint, but from the advocacy standpoint that we need to stick together as an industry,” Hanvey says. “We need to amplify our voice, and the only way that we're going to do that is through shop owners…to become involved.”


Right to Repair, vehicle technology, and more industry-wide topics will be discussed at the ADAPT: Automotive Technology Summit this fall. It will be held Sept. 24 and Sept. 25 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. 


Auto Care Association representatives speaking at the Summit will include Tom Tucker, senior director of government affairs for the ACA, and Mike Tanner, the director of vehicle communications for the ACA. 


Hanvey sees the value in discussing these kinds of topics in an environment like the Summit as a great way to spread awareness and information. It makes people aware of why the industry should care, and the potential risks involved if nothing is done. 


“It’s so critical for the shop to be able to keep up technologically with the machines that are coming into their bay right now,” Hanvey says. “But just as importantly, as I mentioned earlier, that technology is also being used as a wedge against our industry.”

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