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Panel discussion examines consumer trends

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Consumers have more information than ever to make decisions about repairing their vehicle. That's one of the realities a panel of industry experts will look at in a presentation titled “Technology Enabling Transparency in the Aftermarket” at the 2011 Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS), May 18-19 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare near Chicago.

The panel will look at the information consumers now have access to, how that changes their expectations for service and how some consumer-facing technicians have made progress in adapting to the new environment.

"Consumer marketing within the auto repair industry saw little change for the past 20 years, with Yellow Pages advertising and reminder postcards dominating shop marketing budgets," explains panel moderator David Sturtz, CEO, RepairPal. "The arrival of the Internet, more than a decade ago, had little impact on the way shops won and retained customers. But that changed within the past five years as an array of online players became the source of consumer information and influence."

Panelists for the presentation are Jim Dykstra, owner, Dykstra's Auto Service with locations in Hudsonville, Byron Center, and Kentwood, Mich.; and Steve Smith, senior vice president and CIO, TBC Corp.

Dykstra is a past member of the Service Center Advisory Board for the Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance and is a current board member of AAIA’s Car Care Professional Network and the AAIA Education Committee.

Smith oversees all aspects of technology for TBC including application development, infrastructure services, information security, e-commerce and business intelligence.

“Changes in repair shop marketing are accelerating and shops that have prospered in the old environment are being forced to adapt just to stay in business,” says Sturtz.

GAAS 2011 will focus on the theme “Aftermarket Fast Forward: What You Need to Know to Stay Ahead.” The annual two-day Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium brings together industry leaders and experts to examine the issues and trends affecting the worldwide automotive aftermarket and influencing its future.

For more information on GAAS 2011, visit www.GlobalSymposium.org or phone (301) 654-6664.

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