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Experts discuss industry issues at Autopromotec

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One of the highlights of the 2015 Autopromotec in Bologna, Italy, was an assembly of industry groups to discuss “The near future of the independent after-sales and technological advancements: the protagonists compared.”

The meeting featured exchange and debate among representatives from ANFIA (Associazione Nazionale Fra Industrie Automobilistiche, or "National Association of the Automobile Industry"); equipment manufacturers; TEXA SpA, an autodiagnostics company based in Monastier di Treviso, Italy; and independent networks headed by Groupauto International, Magneti Marelli SpA, and Rhiag SpA. It was moderated by Nicola Giardino, editor-in-chief of AutopromotecNEWS.

According to Autopromotec, there are "various technological, regulatory and market novelties that are pushing independent after-sales towards a change in direction and obliging serious reflection on how independent car repair workshops can and must confront the market. Hence, the debate about initiatives started by the independent networks to give their workshops the necessary support, on which equipment is required to deal with the growing complexity and the resulting impact on costs, and on what is entailed by having to serve customers increasingly consisting of vehicle fleets and professional users."

Are "car repair workshops" ready to deal with changes in cars, equipment and customers? ANFIA's Paolo Vasone says they have to “network” on all levels. For example, the main components manufacturers see ANFIA as a “common home” where they can exchange ideas, combine their efforts, and share resources.

The big companies are business aware, but the workshops have to show the same awareness, according to Groupauto's Simone Guidi. The intention of Groupauto in this respect is to work alongside vehicle repairers that are able to create added value with appropriate services, so the final customers -- the motorists -- can count on a “top class” support network for their vehicle.

Exploiting the value of their staff is another key issue, according to Stefano Sancassani, head of Magneti Marelli's Checkstar service network for the EMEA Region, it is necessary to help the most enterprising workshops with a broader outlook to find a way to transmit to customers the added value of their work through specific marketing projects, just as manufacturers do.

To compete with the official car manufacturers networks, Frédéric Servajean, garage network manager for Rhiag, said you have to act and work on the same level, offering among other things adequate image and network guarantees. The real business of the car repair workshop is not so much existing customers, who obviously have to be maintained carefully as established assets, but acquiring new customers through, for example, a coordinated image that induces confidence.

The universal constant that you have to work with today, adds Manuele Cavalli, co-founder and director of research and development for TEXA, is change itself. For TEXA, a hi-tech operator, it is a fundamental prerogative. The company is capable of constantly proposing new solutions practically “on demand” according to the momentary requirements of repair workshops. Mechatronics, in brief, means a business capable of responding promptly and efficiently to the needs of customers that are moving ever faster. For this reason, for example, an ad hoc instrument was developed to keep motorists constantly connected with workshops in the case of faults or simple maintenance.

Overall, there were numerous very interesting signs that emerged from the congress: the importance of the Internet for quickly and ever more precisely ordering parts, for example.

"The world of repairs has, like all the others, become even more selective: There is no alternative to high quality, based on constant and appropriate training, to keep up with day to day challenges," said Autopromotec. "It is not by chance that good workshop performance depends on the good performance of the local spare parts dealer. The tools of the trade, like for example diagnostics systems, have to be both more complete but at the same time easier to use. Lastly, but not least, it is always necessary to fit spare parts of reliable origin."

The Autopromotec trade fair, official known as the International Biennial Exhibition of Automotive Equipment and Aftermarket Products, was held from May 20-24. For more information, check out these links:

"Pirelli helps open 2015 Autopromotec."

"Autopromotec expects the masses to attend."

For more information on Autopromotec, visit www.autopromotec.com, www.facebook.com/Autopromotec and twitter.com/Autopromotec.

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