If you flew out of Las Vegas and away from Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week (HDAW) without at least one nugget of new knowledge, you spent way too much time on the gaming floor.
Record numbers flooded the showroom and packed educational sessions in and around the Terry Fator Theatre at the Mirage this past week.
If you missed the annual event, you missed a top-notch lineup and invaluable networking opportunity.
Among HDAW’s highlights was a segment from business author Scott McKain, who gave a riveting and thoroughly entertaining account on how to distinguish your business in the marketplace.
The action and education was non-stop for nearly four days, and incase you couldn’t make the trip (or all the sessions) below is a brief rundown of Truck Parts & Service coverage.
Doing your homework on private label brands
Navistar’s Michelle Calbi and VIPAR Heavy Duty President Steve Crowley discussed the benefits and drawbacks private-label brands offer in today’s aftermarket.
When properly researched and engineered, “private-label brands can enhance your product offering in your distribution channel,” says Calbi.
Both presenters note the risks associated with private-label offshore products. Crowley notes low-quality off-shore products and counterfeit products are a “scourge” on the market.
WABCO wins Reman award
WABCO Reman Solutions was named the 2014 Heavy Duty Remanufacturer of the Year.
“WABCO is very honored to be given this award,” says Salvador Munoz Zarate, product line leader at WABCO Reman Solutions.
Phillips inducted into Aftermarket HOF
A 50-year veteran of the commercial vehicle market, Bob Phillips was honored for his impressive career at his fourth-generation family company.
The award was presented by IHS Automotive.
“I want to thank you all, my friends, and thank the trucking industry for this,” says Phillips.
Be the brand
Mark McKay of Kenworth Sales Company, Edward Neeley of Truck Supply Co. of South Carolina and Geoff Garafola of Inland Truck Parts discussed how their business work to grow their brands – and their businesses – in their respective markets.
In the case of each business, customer service is the far and away top driver for positively building their brands.
“We all have a brand no matter what [brands] we sell,” says Garafola. Your brand is your business; its how you service your customers and the “total experience [you offer] for your customers” that grows your brand, he says.
It’s better to be special than general
Bruce Merrifield, who spoke at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week Monday as part of the SOLD series, says most business who are good at several things are unlikely to be great at anything.
As part of his “Expanding Parts/Service Opportunities Using Analytics” session, Merrifield encourages distributors to take a deep dive on their net profit per customer visit at the store.
Making your KPI work for you
Everyone wants to grow profits, but do to so you have to know what truly moves your bottom line.
Dr. Albert Bates says growing profits requires more than just selling more parts. To truly grow your profits, you need to know your key profit indicators (KPI).
“People in this room, you could make three times as much as you’re making now” by identifying and capitalizing on your KPI, says Bates during his HDAW presentation.
Meritor goes mobile with training
Meritor used HDAW to debut a new mobile training vehicle.
Walt Sherbourne, Meritor Senior Director, Field Sales, North America, says the vans have already helped train upwards of 250 technicians this calendar year, and will do five citywide training acorss the U.S. this year.
Truck Supply Co. of S.C. named Top Distributor
Truck Supply Co. of South Carolina, led by President Edward Neeley, has been named the 2013 Truck Parts & Service Distributor of the Year.
Neeley purchased Truck Supply Co. in 2002 and under his leadership the business has grown from a single location to three facilities with a parts warehouse and a service center in central South Carolina.
More service leads to more sales
The independent aftermarket was created to address downtime. Independent distributors and service providers are located throughout North America to service any customer at any time.
“When it comes to service, price isn’t important. Time is,” says John Bzeta, president at Fleet Brake.
Aftermarket distributors need to be capitalizing on that market, the panel says. When done well, VIPAR’s Jim Pennig says its an area where growth can be substantial.
Service expansion a must
For brick-and-mortar distributors to remain prosperous and competitive against this burgeoning marketplace, Bill Wade says distributors must turn their attention to service.
And service isn’t limited to parts installation and repair. On the contrary, Wade says. Service refers to all of things you can do to make your customers’ days easier.
“Service is what you make of it,” he says.
Gabriel anticipates growth in second year under new distribution method
At last year’s HDAW, Gabriel announced they would begin taking their goods to market directly. This year, they provided an update.
Gabriel has added 44 new truck, trailer and bus SKUs and 116 new competitive interchanges to its coverage. All are listed in the newly available Gabriel 2014 catalog, which has been increased by 762 lines.
“We had to revamp everything,” Mike Lipski, Gabriel’s vice president of sales and marketing says. “Before, we couldn’t market our product or call on customers ourselves.”
Evaluating your pricing strategy
A self-described “recovering distributor,” Brent Grover says the wholesale distributors are experts in a lot of areas – but pricing is not one of them.
“The market for heavy-duty [distribution] is not efficient,” he says. “Margin is not the only reason that customers are not profitable.”
Grover says there are three fundamental causes of pricing weakness: insufficient monitoring, lack of pricing know-how and poor pricing strategies.