They Should Be Ashamed…
I have been a member of Advance Auto Parts / CARQUEST’s TechNet program since its inception. I believe their program is a good one. NAPA AutoCare also has a very good program, O’Reilly has Certified Auto Repair, and there are several more across the country. This rant has nothing to do with the programs; it has everything to do with the members. I try to always keep a positive tilt in my messages, but this bothered me so badly, I feel I have to share.
A couple of months ago Dan Gold, my AAP sales rep, gave me a call and asked if I would like to attend an upcoming TechNet meeting at the 180 Room in Olathe. I asked what the topic was and he told me that it was to discuss the new components of the program for this year, and the AAP Senior VP of Sales & Automotive Business Solutions was coming in from Raleigh for the meeting, so the information was sure to be the latest, greatest, and most accurate. Knowing that, and the fact that the 180 Room is an event space adjoining Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, I happily gave Dan my RSVP that I would be there. (I love Joe’s KC.)
On the appointed afternoon, I made sure that I could get out of the shop right at closing so I wasn’t late for the meeting. The drive to Olathe at the peak of rush hour was made with hands clinched on the steering wheel, as my route to and from work normally has nothing to do with rush hour on the interstate. I arrived at the 180 Room with time to spare, and went on in. There were about ten Advance representatives there, but at that time, no other shop owners. I asked Kevin, the VP from Raleigh, how many they were expecting. He told me the last number he heard was around 50, and the room was set up with 6 10’s, so that seemed accurate. Here is where it gets bad. Approximately fifty supposedly above average businessmen had RSVP’d that they would be there, the hosts had made food and drink commitments based on those numbers, and seven TechNet members showed up! That’s right, seven out of fifty business owners or managers showed up. I can’t tell you how embarrassed I was that my supposed industry peers would pull a stunt like this. The AAP people went ahead like it was nothing, making a great presentation, and being terrific hosts. When they finished up, I went up and apologized to each of the reps for the thoughtlessness of 43 supposedly quality businessmen, for confirming that they would be there and not showing up or communicating that they wouldn’t make it. The room and catered BBQ cost over $2000, there was airfare for at least one person, and the AAP representatives invested their own time. Before I started this rant, I checked in with a few industry friends to see if they had experienced similar situations. One said they offered a Mitchell class recently and approximately 40 committed to coming. Ten to twelve showed up. Another said he had not experienced a problem quite as bad as mine.
I hear all of the time about auto repair business owners not receiving the respect they deserve. I say many, including the ones referred to above, haven’t earned the respect they want. Come on shop owners and managers, take a small step up in your professionalism and when you make any kind of commitment, honor it. Together we can take our industry to the next level.