Association membership can have numerous benefits for aftermarket businesses.
Today, our industry is changing and we need to adapt to these changes. Industry associations like the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO) can serve as a major catalyst for change.
As the aftermarket industry has changed drastically in the last few decades, so have the associations that represent it. At AARO, the 15-strong Board of Directors has three women on it, including myself as Executive Director. AARO’s Board of Directors are members who are not paid, but volunteer their time and are passionate about our industry and want to make a difference. The board members are voted in by the membership at the Annual General Meeting.
Diversity and enrichment
Building alliances with other associations, and encouraging young people to consider the automotive industry as a promising career, are some of the core missions at the heart of AARO. Another association supported breakthrough program within the aftermarket industry in Canada is AWAKE (Advancing Women in Automotive Knowledge Exchange). AWAKE aims to empower women who are already a part of, or are considering, a career in the automotive aftermarket industry, and to encourage diversity and enrichment of the workplace culture to the benefit of the industry as a whole.
Additionally, associations have provided a unified industry voice when it comes to working with legislators that impact the aftermarket. In Ontario, AARO worked in cooperation with the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) with information sessions across the province to ensure all industry stakeholders were aware of changes to the new regulations on the Motor Vehicle Inspection Stations (MVIS) safety standards certificates, which took effect July 1, 2016.
Besides spreading awareness about changes to MVIS safety standards certificates, the association also helped ensure that MVIS Inspection Report books were made available to all station owners whether they were AARO members or not. Additionally, AARO members do get their MVIS Inspection Report books at no cost to them.
Associations can provide a powerful VOICE for the Independent Motive Power sector when it comes to government and legislation. Associations like AARO can help place automotive aftermarket industry concerns in front of the right politicians at the provincial level, including Ministers and MPPs, ensuring industry voices are heard and considered.
In Ontario, one issue that’s being actively campaigned by AARO is Biennial Safety Inspections on Passenger Vehicles in the Province. There are many who believe this legislation is long overdue. In Europe, it has been standard procedure for over 50 years, so why is it taking North America so long to catch up? More information on this legislation can be found at aaro.ca/important-information-for-shopowners- and-technicians.
Others include new ways to bring training to aftermarket businesses with webinar technology. These initiatives make it easier for shops to participate regardless of where they are located or how many employees they wish to have involved. Using AARO as an example, there has been enormous success already with many suppliers across the province sending their customers to AARO’s technical training classes. AARO now has Business Management classes and has also implemented Service Advisor Trainer and Increasing Car Count workshops.