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Fantastic opportunity that just passes us by

used parts
The acceptance of used parts by the motor trade still eludes us
I don’t think I have ever come across a business sector that offers so much to those involved as car breaking does. I also have to add, I have never come across a business sector that isn’t keen to capitalise on its potential. But when it comes to vehicle dismantlers and car breakers the potential of used parts sales seems to pass us by.

I can hear many of you saying things such as, “We sell plenty of parts so why should we worry?” This is why you should worry. For the car breaker, the used car parts market is a shrinking market. Yes, more and more cars get put on the road but take a close look at those cars. For starters they are packed full of technology and systems designed for the manufacturer to keep the owner coming back to their dealer network. Then, there is constant pressure by the manufacturers to have as many used parts as possible prevented from being re-used on safety grounds. And let's not forget the average car buyer today. He (or she) hasn't the foggiest idea when it comes to fixing his/her own car. They have no intention of making any repairs themselves, let's face it, many would even prefer to wait an hour for the AA than change their own tyre. So with that in mind, where do you see your future going?

As I said at the beginning, the potential is huge. What we sell as used parts is just a scratch on the surface of the value of new parts sales but we shall never capitalise on any of that because we all keep ourselves to ourselves and don’t like to 'hunt as pack'. You may not believe the market is there at all. You may well feel that the fault lies at the insurance industy's door, or perhaps the body shops and garages are to blame. Well the use of used parts works well in other countries. The States for example, where 95% of a car breaker’s business is trade sales of used parts there are no such acceptance issues. Only the other day I was speaking to a dismantler who told me that in some Eastern European countries, when an insurance repair is carried out that a used part is automatically fitted in preference to new. This keeps insurance premiums affordable. What this demonstrates is that the market is definitely out there so we can’t blame the insurance industry as they are keen to demonstrate in other areas (where it suits them) of the world that they are more than wiling to do business on a massive scale with the vehicle dismantler. No, the problem I am afraid lies with us.

There is another big issue that comes into play when we look at the UK market and that’s salvage. Many of the larger vehicle dismantlers in the UK have grown fat on salvage to the point of paying lip service to the used parts side of their business. Whilst the salvage market remains buoyant, who can blame them. But what about the bulk of you. There isn’t enough salvage for us all to keep expanding our businesses. Don’t you want to join the big league, get those profits pumping? I believe it is possible with used parts but not until this industry is ready to seriously work together for it’s greater good. Only then can we develop standards that are applicable to us all so that body shops and garages can be sure of what they will get. Think about it; when you order something, you know what to expect when the goods arrive. You know they will be to a certain standard; and that’s the confidence a body shop or garage needs when he orders a used part. Then there is the other issue. Not only does he need confidence in the quality, but also in supply. No body shop or garage is going to waste time ordering parts from a dozen different suppliers. The only way to combat this is to pool resources, work together and then, 'bingo', all of a sudden they can order from one point and know what to expect.

Let’s face it, the technology is already in most of our yards to pool stock. Is it such a leap into the unknown to join together for your own good? Let me know your views as this should be an open discussion.

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