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Information is Power When it Comes to Telematics

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A check engine light alerts a driver that there’s an issue with the vehicle, but, what if that check engine light also alerted a nearby auto repair shop? Today, that’s a reality. Referred to as telematics, the sharing of vehicle information is a powerful tool, and one that’s highly debated. Right now, OEMs have a leg up on independent shop owners as they’re the ones that install the software in the vehicle. However, many independent shop owners are fighting for the right to make it a level playing field and allow customers to choose wherever they’d like to go for repairs. 


Why It Matters: 

In 2018, the Right to Repair Coalition relaunched due to telematics and the advantage that it gave to dealerships. At the time the Right to Repair law was passed in 2013, access to information through telematics was not an issue. In 2020, it is. Independent shop owners need to be aware that the dealerships have access to information that could steer customers away from the independent shop. The issue is that the majority of the population is unaware of this. 

“Allowing the vehicle owner to control access to their vehicle data creates the opportunity for the vehicle owner to control access to their vehicle data and creates the opportunity for repair shops to create an ongoing and direct relationship between shops and the customers where currently the OEM enjoys a monopoly,” Bill Hanvey, CEO of the Auto Care Association, says. 

Right now, it’s a fight for information, and unless independent shops make their voices heard, they’ll be left behind. 

“I do believe there will be enough work for everyone, for those that are willing to learn and adapt,” Joseph McCorry, board member and global FP of ZF Aftermarket, says. “The dedalers can’t do it on their own.” 


How to Prepare: 

In order to create an ongoing relationship with customers, independent shop owners need to look at online and mobile applications created by the aftermarket that will allow them to compete with the OEMs, Hanvey says. For those shop owners that are doing this, Hanvey provides a few ways to use it as a differentiator.

Improve customer service. 

Utilizing telematics can provide a seamless, smooth, customer experience that alerts customers immediately when their car needs to be repaired, Hanvey says. 

“Shops can use the opportunity to automatically schedule the repair, order the parts, keep it convenient for the customers and increase trust and rapport through this process—a big differentiator,” Hanvey says. 

Branch out.   

Fleet work can benefit in a large way from telematics. If shops have the capacity to do so, Hanvey suggests reaching out to fleets with this offering. It will help increase revenue opportunities. 


Future Outlook:  

Information is power, and if independent repair shops do not have their customer’s information, that power will go to the dealerships, warns Hanvey. 

If the playing field is level, this access to information can improve the overall experience for customers as well as the automotive industry as a whole. 

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