Major factors affecting the independent sector: Issues with parts in the modern world
The IGA is releasing a series of bulletin articles detailing factors affecting the independent motor industry in today’s modern age. This time, we’re discussing how parts supply, in terms of timeliness, availability, counterfeits and consumer-supplied parts can all have an effect on a garage business.
Parts availability is obviously critical to all areas of the automotive aftermarket sector, however, for the independent sector disruption in supply can be catastrophic.
Whilst the independent garage may be able to purchase parts from a variety of different suppliers, many parts by their nature need to be OE (original equipment). The cost of stocking and distributing parts can be a major concern for the OE providers at a local stock level, particularly of the slower moving parts.
To support the low stock holding level most manufacturers offer a 24-hour supply solution, however this can result in reduced discounts. To maintain buying discounts and purchase parts on stock order can often mean having to wait for two or three days, if not longer, to receive parts.
Delays of this nature not only cause customer frustration, but for the garage, having a disabled or partially dismantled vehicle clogging up valuable workshop space could be damaging to their business.
On to the issue of counterfeit parts, all motorists loves a bargain - but at what cost? We all know that maintaining a vehicle can seem like an unnecessary expense, especially if it’s not causing any problems. The ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ approach could also be labelled as ‘burying your head in the sand’.
So, a significant element of maintaining a vehicle is the cost of parts and it is tempting for consumers to reduce the impact of parts costs by looking for a bargain. As the internet is now a part of most people’s lives it tends to be the first port of call when looking to save money on a purchase, however, the internet is a global market place and as such it is difficult to regulate, so can attract some less scrupulous sellers.
The automotive market too is global and the temptation for the less scrupulous supplier to enter this arena is obvious to see, but the adage of ‘buyer beware’ still holds good. Your life, the life of your passengers and those of other road users could depend on the parts fitted to your vehicle.
The independent garage is the life blood of a mobile society and vital to many. The technicians in the sector need to have a vast array of skills and knowledge far more than many dealer outlets. These skills and the associated knowledge are used day in day out but can so easily be compromised if any new parts required don’t match the quality of the original.
The supply and use of counterfeit parts is an ever-growing issue, the prevalence of which is fuelled by the motorist themselves seeking to reduce their cost and wanting to supply their own parts. This carries many risks not only for the customer, but also for the garage.
For the customer, the use of counterfeit parts could not only compromise their safety but could increase their vehicle maintenance costs, as the durability of these parts may be far below what would be obtained from a part of matching quality to the original and they could ultimately reduce the value of the vehicle, thus devaluing their asset.
For the garage, the risks are far greater. It may be tempting to provide good customer service by fitting customer supplied parts, even to reduce your own outlay on parts purchasing, however as a professional business providing a service to the general public, the garage, its owner and its staff have a duty of care.
They should ask themselves some serious questions before fitting any parts that they do not know the providence of.
Is the part safe? Will the part perform as the manufacturer intended? By fitting this part could I put the reputation of my business at risk? By fitting this part am I putting my customer at risk? And finally, would I fit this part to my own car that my own family travels in? The latter being the acid test.
By agreeing to fit customer supplied parts, as a business you are also removing the opportunity to make a margin on the sale of the parts you would otherwise supply to the customer, a margin that is vital to maintaining a profitable business.
The IGA has collaborated on a campaign raising awareness on the risks of consumer-supplied and counterfeit parts with the Intellectual Property Office. To view the campaign, , or for any further questions or guidance please call the direct member helpline or 0845 305 4230.