I’ve written before about the impact State Farm’s parts procurement program through PartsTrader has had on our interactions with readers since its launch in April of 2012. The program is by far the No. 1 comment generator on our website and social media outlets. Our video interviews about the program with State Farm’s George Avery, former Collision Industry Conference chairman Michael Quinn, and New Zealand collision magazine editors David Newton-Ross and Rex Crowther, have generated thousands of views (find them at youtube.com/fenderbendermag).
The program doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon and by the looks of it, neither does the controversy. I still have repairers contacting me to find out what I’ve heard about how PartsTrader is working in the few repair centers that are using it so far. Those inquiries prompted the story in this issue (“Evaluating PartsTrader”).
We’ve been hitting the phones for months looking for shops that are on the program and willing to talk about their experiences. We were hoping to find a balance of views, though to be honest, we expected to find nothing but negativity based on the reactions we had heard both individually and at industry meetings and events. We ended up finding a lot more neutrality—and positivity—than we anticipated. Each of the four shop operators we found were asked the same questions, developed by our editorial staff with no outside influence from shops, State Farm or PartsTrader. Their answers speak for themselves.
I expect strong reactions to this story, but want to emphasize that the views shared in the story are of the professionals we interviewed and are not our own. I see it as our job to take an objective approach on this subject.
I know this story does not cover all aspects of the PartsTrader tale—the vendor perspective, for instance. It wasn’t created as an all-encompassing piece, but rather as a story straight from the mouths of shop operators who for months have been using this controversial program in their facilities, with varying results.
I hope the story provides some insight into how the PartsTrader program is working in real shops. I hope it answers some of your questions, even though I am certain it will raise many.
Please share your feedback by shooting me an email or giving me a call, or by visiting our pages on Facebook or LinkedIn. And if you’re a shop using this program and you’d like to weigh in, we’d be happy to hear from you, possibly for a future article. I’m looking forward to the continued discussion.
Though the PartsTrader feature is the largest piece in this issue, we’ve got all of our usual sections to accompany it. You can find a feature on a shop that managed to grow past $1 million in sales in a town of just 600 (“Small Town Sensation”), a case study on a shop that dealt with a competitor with a similar name moving in down the road and more inspiring stories and business-building strategies.
Whether we’re writing news, features, shop profiles, strategy stories or anything else, our mission is the same: to help you take your business to the next level.