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Want more trade sales - better get standards

Green Parts Standards
FAB' Jason Bishop demonstrates to CARS visitors just how easy it is to operate the ARA's Damage Locator for body panels and wheels.
The sale of green parts for crash repairs is a bit like the Holy Grail. With £1.5 billion worth of potential business a year then it is an area we shouldn’t ignore - so what’s standing in the way?

There are a number of matters standing in the way but the big one is confidence. Confidence in the part the user will receive, confidence in the business that supplies it and confidence in the service they will be given.

Anyone who attended the Green Parts forum at CARS 2014 will be under no illusions that to capitalise on this vast market won’t be easy as we have to change the perception of the body shop and garage markets, but perception can be changed. A friend of mine recently bought a Skoda and is very pleased with it. Twenty years ago the thought of buying a Skoda was not seen as such a great move, so what’s changed? Well in Skoda’s case, Volkswagen happened and what was once a basket case is now thought of as a quality product. And this is what we must achieve, changing the opinion of the body repair and garage trades to believe that green parts are quality parts.

Let’s not be under any illusions, Volkswagen didn’t achieve the turnaround at Skoda without turning the product into a quality product and we won’t achieve green parts sales without supplying a quality product. Classifying that quality requires a system that can be relied upon by trade users. In other words, we need a standard.

ARA Classification.
The ARA's damage locator for body panels allows dismantlers to easily work to a uniform standard of classification. Body shops will then know just what to expect from the green part they order, no matter who the supplier.
Luckily for us, the Americans have been working to a standard for the last 20 years which has served to create for the American auto recycler a huge volume of business from the trade sector. We can do it here but we have to operate and adhere to a standard that the trade can readily understand and that body shops and garages can rely on. In other words, it won’t matter it the part comes from you or a different dismantler, the buyer will know what he is getting.

Another great point we need to appreciate is that FAB Recycling, the people behind FAB Bundle and also the company that has worked tirelessly to develop private fleet contracts (including nearly every Police force in the UK) have adopted the American (ARA) standard for all their parts. This has helped FAB convince potential trade partners of their commitment to quality. And now MVDA are making serious noises that the ARA standards could form the basis of their new standard - it’s time to move on this.

The great thing about the ARA standard is that it's very simple and doesn’t take much effort for you and your staff to understand and work to it. It won’t add any cost; in fact it will save cost as you will be classifying parts in a way that everyone will recognise so returns and quality issues should reduce. Bear in mind quality doesn’t mean a part is perfect, what it means is that the part is classified so imperfections are understood recognised; naturally parts are priced accordingly. It’s all about the customer knowing what to expect from the part purchased - removing the risk of nasty surprises.

Jason Bishop, FAB’s Operations Director held a workshop at CARS to explain the ARA Parts Grading Standards and in particular the damage locator which is used to grade body panels and wheels. After telling the audience how the damage locator worked, Jason went on to demonstrate how defects on a number of panels would be graded. All parts then fit into a simple code that indicates the location, type and size of any damage. You end up with a simple code and the way the system works, no matter who or where you are you would still arrive at the same code - even I could I figure it out.

What this means for the dismantler is that there is no reason why we shouldn’t all start working to a uniform way of classification right now. And this won’t only help trade sales, what about eBay? We have written a lot lately about the problem with returns from customers, we have the latest gripes to raise again next month. Imagine if we had a standard classification system that we all worked to so even the public knew what to expect. This is easy to achieve, it really isn’t hard to grasp and the potential on offer is so vast. With perhaps half a day’s training you and your staff could take that first step to a brighter future.

Next month we shall take a detailed look at what the ARA Damage Locator is and how it applies to body panels. Hopefully this will show you just how easy it is - until next time.

July 2014

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