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How to compete with the Aftermarket and win

How to compete with the Aftermarket and win

In vehicle sales, it’s brand against brand. But in parts sales, it’s a whole different ballgame. As a parts manager, you know you’re not competing against other OEMs – you’re competing against the entire aftermarket industry.

The aftermarket has figured a few things out to steal your customers out from right underneath you. They have captured two worlds the OEMs are not highly present in: online and brick and mortar stores. So how do you compete?

Whether you are a large wholesaler, a smaller dealership, or somewhere in between, you still have the opportunity to go up against the Goliath known as the Aftermarket… and win.

Get your inventory online

The aftermarket has been able to sell online, successfully, for years. And even if you are new to the World Wide Web, you are still gaining a bigger footprint than you ever had before. Selling online not only expands your footprint, but it also makes your inventory available to shops 24/7. Since online parts sales have surged 16%¹in the past year, I recommend starting with this article to help get your parts department online.

Market yourself better

It’s well known that customer loyalty is built on trust. If you look at the shops in your area, think about how you can build relationships with these shops to turn them into devoted customers. Don’t overwhelm yourself – start small and build a foundation of relationships with some of your best customers. These loyal customers will become the backbone of your online parts sales.

Hand out flyers, pens, whatever you have available – with your dealership branding on it. Don’t be afraid to stop in to just introduce yourself and leave your business card and a good impression.

But don’t forget about those customers you already do have a good relationship with. If you simply stop by for an in-person visit, this will likely reflect the level of attention and effort you put into customer service.

Educate your customers and build your image as a parts expert

Shops will likely come to you because of the OE parts you sell. Go the extra mile during the sale and explain to them how the market is shifting and OE parts may play a bigger role in their business. Here are some facts that play in both your and your customer’s favor:

  • Your customer is changing – physically. Many Baby Boomers are now reaching the age where repairing their own vehicle isn’t always a physical option for them anymore.² The younger generations tend to lean on services that perform the mechanical work for them giving you and your customers the opportunity to gain business.
  • Consumers are keeping their cars longer. In fact, the average age of vehicle ownership is up 60%.¹This means vehicle owners will be looking to extend the longevity of their vehicles as much as possible – which, most of the time, can only be done by installing OE parts.
  • Used vehicle sales are going up.¹Consumers are anticipating selling their used vehicles with the greatest value, which can increase with the use of the right replacement parts.

If you understand your customer’s customer, it’s likely that shops will look to you as a valuable resource and reach out to you for input on further parts needs.

It’s no surprise that price always trumps any other factor when it comes to mechanical repairs. Luckily for you, OEMs are aware of aftermarket parts pricing and can often match or even do better on pricing – all to the benefit of your customer. There are many opportunities for you to take on the Aftermarket – you just need to put yourself in the right position to compete.

¹ NADA Data, 2016. 
² The Fredonia Group, 2016.