How relationships play a crucial role in the aftermarket

How relationships play a crucial role in the aftermarket

In the ecosystem of the automotive aftermarket, where manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, independent workshops, and end-users are all connected, relationships serve as the threads that hold the entire chain together. Our editor, Tom Henman, reports:

From the smallest bolt to the most sophisticated software, each component finds its place through interconnected partnerships. These relationships form the bedrock of an industry that thrives on collaboration, innovation, and mutual trust.

As we delve into the heart of this dynamic sector, hearing from motor factors and an independent workshop about the power, impact and history of relationships, it is evident that the significance of partnerships transcends mere transactions; it encourages the essence of success.

Whether it’s a manufacturer relying on its suppliers, or a distributor forging alliances with workshops, the automotive aftermarket pulsates with a rhythm – and will do for a long time to come.

This article aims to explore the multifaceted importance of alliances across the entire automotive aftermarket spectrum.

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Auto Spares Wales Company Director, Steve Jones:

“Relationships are the main reason Auto Spares Wales exists! The fact that some of our customers didn’t feel they had the relationships was the reason we decided to give it a go.

“Customers being able to speak with helpful staff and a decision-maker when needed have been some of the main reasons for our growth over the last three years.

“It’s always been said that people buy from people in our industry, and that’s still true to some degree, although now more than ever, we know we have to be on top of our game when it comes to customer service. We also need to be super competitive because there is so much competition out there. This is obviously true of the relationships we have with our suppliers also.

“Another big reason we opened the doors was the relationships we had with four or five core suppliers; they were all willing to help, whether it was with extended credit, consignment stock or even just a decent credit limit off the mark. These are all reasons we are here today.

“We’re three years in now, and we still deal with every supplier we had when we first opened.

“We joined the PDP buying group shortly after opening, and this meant we needed to align our suppliers with the group. Even though this meant having some difficult conversations with one or two suppliers, we did it the right way: we gave them plenty of notice and agreed to still use them where possible. These suppliers were great and fully understood the situation.”

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Arnold Clark Autoparts Group Factor Manager, Craig McCracken:

“Relationships are at the heart of everything we do at Arnold Clark Autoparts, as one of the fastest growing UK motor factors. With over 30 years of motor factoring in the automotive aftermarket, we understand the crucial role that strong relationships play in our business.

“The growth of Arnold Clark Autoparts has been phenomenal and being close to our customers and suppliers has been key to our success.

“The market has changed; garages are after more than just sales and promotions, they want trends, data and key information, which we can help support and bring to them.

“We offer a number of wraparound support services, such as technical support, online ordering, support with warranties, business support and training, information sources and much more.

“We value our partnerships with suppliers immensely. Building and maintaining strong relationships with our suppliers allows us to ensure a consistent supply of high-quality parts for our customers. These partnerships enable us to offer a diverse range of products and maintain competitive pricing, ultimately, benefiting our customers.

“Throughout Arnold Clark Autoparts’ history, we have rarely changed our suppliers. This offers continuity and consistency; we are about bringing together those that make the parts to those that fit the parts.

“By building trust and rapport with our customers, we can provide tailored solutions, reliable support, and exceptional service. Our dedicated customer service team is always on-hand to address any queries or issues promptly, further strengthening our customer relationships.

“Relationships are not just transactions; they are the foundation of our success. By prioritizing relationships with both suppliers and customers, we can create a supportive network that drives mutual growth and prosperity.”

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Oldfields Garage Services Director, Tim Benson:

“For a modern garage to be successful, I believe it is vital that long-term relationships, built on value and mutual benefit, are fostered across all business stakeholders from supply side through to customers. It’s really not just about the transaction of buying and selling goods any longer.

“From the customer side, we spend time getting to know our customers, building a profile using our systems, and we actually grade them based on a variety of factors, including how easy they are to deal with and how much of their car maintenance and repairs we carry out. We want to work for customers who understand the value we provide, and it’s our job to make sure we attract the right customers to our business. We’re in a fortunate position that we can actually say “no” to customers who drain our resources, so we can concentrate on provide amazing service to the ones who value what we offer so they come back again and again.

“We’ve taken a similar approach with the supply side, in the context of both factor suppliers and also manufacturers. Supply is a partnership, a significant extension to our wider business, and without good supply relationships our business doesn’t work.

“What’s been very noticeable for me is the difference in suppliers in two camps: those that have taken the time to get to understand and know our business and me as a person, and those that are more transactional in nature.

“The old adage is that people buy off people, and I think this still holds very true. If you can build a good relationship with factor suppliers, it makes a huge difference to our operation. Understanding supply chain processes and ordering availability is huge for a garage’s efficiency.”

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Car Spares Factors Co-Owner, Sanjiv Shah:

“At Car Spares Factors, we believe the power and importance of relationships stand as pillars that not only support the industry but also drive its success – relationships between our internal teams, manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and customers are all connected.

“These relationships extend beyond mere transactions: they form collaboration, trust, and reliability upon which the entire industry thrives. In a sector where product choice and timely availability are paramount, creating robust relationships and a fast, accurate service, in turn, makes our customers’ business more efficient, profitable and successful.

“The foundation for outstanding customer service begins not at the customer-facing front lines, but from our internal team. Our culture, communication, and employee satisfaction play pivotal roles in shaping the quality of service delivered to external clients. When we prioritise and nurture our internal team, it creates a ripple effect that positively impacts customer interactions, loyalty, and overall satisfaction. That’s why many of our customers have been working with us for decades and why we have over 200 Google reviews averaging 4.7 stars across our network of seven branches.

“Amazing company to deal with. Thank you for all the support for the last 39 years.”

“Wide choice of quality parts. Always a pleasure to deal with the guys here; they’re professional and polite at all times and extremely helpful. Nothing is too much trouble for them. Keep up the good work CSF.”

“The best car parts shop, great guys – I’ve been using CSF for years.”

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