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Overcoming adversity

The Independent Automotive Aftermarket Federation (IAAF) provided a detailed look at the challenges of Brexit, Covid-19 and supply chain issues, highlighting the opportunities available to aftermarket businesses, at its annual conference.

The event was hosted by IAAF’s chief executive, Mark Field, who outlined the changes that have been happening in the Federation, including introducing the IAAF’s new training academy and its work with UK AFCAR in lobbying government regarding MOTs and Block Exemption Regulations. Mark concluded his welcome speech explaining: “It’s time for the aftermarket to come out of the shadows and promote itself better to attract the best talent and highlight its brilliance.”

Neil Pattemore, from UK AFCAR & IAAF Technical Director, focussed his legislation update on the access available to industry data and the ongoing battle to ensure the independent aftermarket has the same opportunities to provide services for motorists as the Vehicle Manufactures – an increasingly unlevel playing field as technology drives remote services. Neil spoke of how the way in which vehicle data is used has fundamentally changed in recent years, enabling the VMs to deliver bespoke services using vehicle data in a way the aftermarket cannot. Embedded applications and telematics within new vehicles provide the manufacturer, and its dealer network, with real-time data, enabling prognostics and direct in-vehicle quotations to the driver. Motorists no longer have to enter a workshop when a light pops up in the dashboard as the situation can be anticipated and intercepted by the dealer network.

Matt Cleevely of Cleevely EV described the journey of evolving his family business into electric vehicle services and highlighted issues with sourcing EV replacement parts.

Garages urged to provide evidence of restricted access to VM data…
The UK AFCAR alliance of trade associations and commercial organisations was formed to lobby the UK government on upholding the rights of the independent aftermarket and it needs your help to document evidence of restrictive practices. Independent garages can now register any restrictions they face on access to vehicle manufacturer repair and maintenance information with a new form produced by UK AFCAR.

Mark Field, UK AFCAR chairman and chief executive of the IAAF, said: “We’ve responded to the regular communications we’ve had with garages on the difficulty they have in accessing information required to carry out work. As part of the intensification of UK AFCAR and IAAF lobbying, we’re pleased to provide a solution to collect data from garages so we can redouble our efforts with UK legislators.”

The form is available here:

Former SAS soldier Robin Horsfall delivered an awe inspiring keynote speech, discussing the importance of good leadership and overcoming adversity.

The IAAF says that any information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be used to provide the evidence needed to show a vehicle manufacturer’s non- compliance, or restrictive practices. Examples include denial of access to RMI information or data/functions in the vehicle, excessive charges, incorrect information, having to prove competency, having to go to a main dealer to complete a job, or when garages are unable to use aftermarket parts due to vehicle manufacturer’s restrictions.

Good leadership

The keynote speech delivered by SAS Soldier, veterans’ campaigner and creative writer Robin Horsfall was a truly inspiring account of what it takes to be an effective leader and overcoming adversity. A challenging home life with his mother and stepfather affected his schooling so at the age of fifteen he joined the army. He experienced bullying by his peers but was inspired by good leaders along the way and went on to join the Parachute Regiment, served three tours of Northern Ireland and was accepted, on his second attempt, into the SAS. He was part of the counter terrorist team that stormed the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980, helping to rescue nineteen hostages who had been held for six days. His description of this event captivated the audience, as he explained how things went wrong from the start. One piece of bad luck meant that one of the team was left dangling in front of a window (and open fire) having got his hand jammed between his abseiling equipment and comms unit, which meant the team could not communicate. Thanks to their first-class training by an exemplary leader, they were able to successfully complete the mission.

Neil Pattemore, UK AFCAR & IAAF Technical Director, gave an insight into legislation affecting the industry, including the access available to industry data.

I can highly recommend Robin’s autobiography Fighting Scared, which details a life full of ups and downs but shows how adversity and tough times can provide rich opportunities and offer different paths.

Silver linings

Quentin Le Hetet from GiPA then took the stage and presented the findings of the first IAAF Aftermarket Trend Index, offering an insight into the changing vehicle parc and mobility trends. One of the positives was the resulting acceleration of the vehicle car parc age following the significant reduction in car sales over the last few years, benefitting the aftermarket with the associated repairs and maintenance. Most cars on the road are over three years old, and by the end of 2024 the average age of UK vehicles is predicted to be 9.5 years old. Talking of age, GiPA’s survey concluded that the average age of an independent workshop owner in the UK is sixty-seven! A reminder that the industry must focus on attracting talent into the sector as a matter of urgency.

VIcky Pryce, Chief Economic Adviser and board member at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), delivered a fascinating, yet depressing, economic overview.

About Autotechnician
Autotechnician is a magazine published nine times a year, delivering essential information to independent garage owners and technicians in the UK. Delivered both digitally and in print, autotechnician provides readers with technical, training, business advice, product and news, allowing our readers to keep up to date with information they need to run and work within a modern workshop.
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