The Light at the End of the Tunnel Has A Dimmer Switch!

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On going supply disruptions means many in the aftermarket are having to get creative in managing inventory. PHOTO Huw Evans

In my last submission, I wrote about the light at the end of tunnel as we begin to come out of this pandemic and attempt to get back to business.

For the most part, that is still taking place and many distributors in the marketplace are experiencing excellent sales performance and growth within their respective trading areas.

This is great news for all concerned and one more example of how the aftermarket industry continues to adapt, change and address the ever-changing dynamics that we have all faced over the last 20 months!

In the dialogue I have had with many players in the supply chain, the sentiments about the current market conditions are very consistent.

The demand is for product, product, and more product!

They don’t need to be sold on attributes, and incentives; but rather just want access to products on a consistent basis.

What hasn’t changed ultimately is that when a vehicle needs service, the ASP needs the replacement part regardless of the global issues that are taking place.

As a result—as has been mentioned in previous articles—is that longstanding relationships based on product quality, consistency in the deliverables like turn-around time and fill rates are impacting the long-time loyalty that is one of the cornerstones of our industry.

Although painful on the ego, impactful on the bottom line, and a stress on the brand equity of a product, the fact is as an industry, everyone is utilizing all their creative capacity to acquire the product.

Frustrating for the aftermarket is that due to the lack of semi-conductors which has severely impacted new vehicle production and in turn driven a huge upward spike in the used vehicle segment and ultimately a spike in business for automotive service providers, the ongoing supply chain issues particularly with lack of product, and the transportation challenges with containers awaiting to unload and manufacturers scrambling to find space on a ship, our aftermarket has been forced to look at alternatives.

This condition has forced distributors to look at multiple manufacturers in each category.

Where product consolidation was being embraced by many distributors, today, it’s all about finding the product regardless of the manufacturer, assessing the product quality and acquisition price and extremely high on the list—availability.

The experts say these supply conditions will remain for some time, but as has always been the case, our product and service providers will find a way to serve their clients who in turn will keep us on the road safe and secure.

Yes, even though a dimmer switch has been added, the light at the end of the tunnel is still shining enough to guide us to success.

Robert Pitt has been in the automotive aftermarket since 1996 in the fields of sales, marketing and operations. Currently, he serves as president of Pitt Industries.


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