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Green Parts - what’s wrong with our image?

Vehicles on racks
We as an industry have to demonstrate beyond doubt that we are professionals who can offer a national service to match any other suppliers to the insurance and trade repair sectors.
In previous articles we have looked at the issues associated with the quality of parts and how we can supply the volume which would be required by the trade market. In this final part of the series we take a look at our image.

No-one can say that the car breaker or vehicle dismantler has a great image. I am not saying it is or isn’t justified but I think we can all take it as fact. Let’s face it, to the general public we are still all ‘scrappies’. No-one differentiates between a ferrous merchant, a non-ferrous merchant or an auto recycler - to the general public we are all still ‘scrappies’ and as we have seen over the last few months, our main occupation is using cash to buy stolen metals. This is the image we are up against and you must agree, it isn’t a great image to have.

With this image comes the credibility issue as the image does not inspire confidence or trust. What this means is we have to work twice as hard to bridge that credibility gap and move the industry to a position of trust. Otherwise insurance companies and trade users are always going to view us from a position of doubt, and if there is any doubt, they won’t use our green parts. Will the part be as expected? Will the part get here when I want it? How good is their interchange information? What will happen if the part isn’t right? What will happen if the part is faulty? Who will pay for refitting? The list goes on.

If you apply these questions to any purchase you make, then you are reasonably comfortable that the answers will all be acceptable. That new smart TV will be as described and if it’s faulty it will be sorted. That’s what we all expect and that’s the standard we must all live up to if we want to capitalise on the vast potential that green parts offer. So ask yourself if you treat your customers as you expect to be treated when you are a customer. Hopefully, the answer is yes but if their are any doubts then think hard about your customer relations. We are all well aware of the rogues who do try to ‘rip us off’ - the person who buys head lamps just so he can get the car through it’s mot and then returns them claiming they are not right. We all have similar tales but assuming that the average punter is like that is the same assumption the general public has made about us. I am sure you all agree that for the majority of us that general assumption is not right.

So what’s needed to bridge this credibility gap? As we have mentioned in previous articles, firstly the part must be the correct one for the vehicle and its condition as agreed. This means standards that the body repair and garage trades will accept and that we can work too. Secondly, if the repair shop doesn’t get the part when it wants it, then they won’t reorder. We must work together to create a large enough stock base to supply on demand - my local garage can get deliveries of parts up to 3 times a day. We have a lot of catching up to do and we won’t do it working individually, no matter how big your yard. Thirdly, we need organisation. We need a body that has enough auto recyclers involved (and that means 400-500 businesses) that will then market our products, will work to create the deals with insurers and individual trade outlets and most importantly, will ensure correct training of member companies and regularly audit them to make sure they are keeping up to standard. When problems do arise, then member companies would have to comply with the decision of the controlling organisation. Only then can the business in trade green parts start to take off.

We can just sit back and do nothing but others aren’t. You all have the internet, take a look at what happens in the States. Sales of green parts are huge there. Then think about the fact that companies such as Copart have moved significantly into the market and more recently LKQ bought up EuroCarParts. I find it hard to imagine that these organisations are not looking to develop the UK market. After all, because of our lack of commitment to work together the UK market is wide open to be exploited. I wonder who else is eyeing up this market!

There will be a green parts forum at the CARS show which will include representatives from all areas of the industry including body shops, insurers, auto recyclers who have been involved with UK trials plus those from abroad who work within the green parts environment. If you want to be part of this future then this will be a great place to join up with like minded auto recyclers.

This article is the third in the series looking at building the green parts business. Click the following links for previous articles:
Standards essential to open up green parts business
Trade markets require much higher availability of parts

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