As PartsTrader and State Farm continue to roll out their parts procurement program across the country, the announcement of the removal of the shops’ option to order from any vendor they choose comes as no surprise to the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of New Jersey (AASP/NJ). From day one, AASP/NJ has been one of the country’s biggest opponents of the program.
“Are we surprised by this?” AASP/NJ President Jeff McDowell asks. “Hell, no. We have been expecting these kinds of changes from the start. This program is all about control and money and taking both of those things away from the shop owner. What we are surprised about is how quiet the industry has gotten since this was first implemented. Back then, there was widespread outrage, but State Farm waited it out like we knew they would. Now, with what seems like little resistance from our industry, they are steamrolling through states and changing the rules in their favor as they go. It’s only going to get worse.”
According to collisionweek.com, the fax option was originally added to the PartsTrader system so that Select Service facilities could still place orders with their preferred vendors, even if those vendors refused to participate in the PartsTrader program. If a parts vendor chose not to sign up for the online quoting system, PartsTrader would generate a fax order and forward it to that vendor on the shop’s behalf. With that feature no longer available, Select Service shops using the fax option have just two choices: Encourage their preferred suppliers to sign up for (and use) the PartsTrader application, or find a new parts supplier for State Farm repairs. In an email to repairers in Arizona, PartsTrader Support said that after July 31, suppliers that have not yet begun to use the PartsTrader application as “a fully active participating supplier” will no longer appear on the system as an available vendor, and therefore will no longer be able to receive orders placed in PartsTrader.
While a disturbing number of industry professionals seem to be taking a “wait and see” approach to PartsTrader’s expansion, several trade associations (such as SCRS) haven’t given up the fight. AASP/NJ Executive Director Charles Bryant has been one of the loudest voices in the shrinking PartsTrader resistance.
“Last year, in a State Farm B2B video, State Farm’s George Avery, who also happens to be the chairman of the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), said that ‘…repairers are in control of who provides your parts, regardless of the part type. We have worked with PartsTrader on a process that [enables] you to maintain your relationships and negotiated deals with your vendors. We understand that relationships with your suppliers are important in managing your business, much in the same way we value our relationship with you.’ I guess I am supposed to act shocked? OK, I’ll try. Here goes…WOW, I can’t believe that the person that CIC chose as their leader would have made such a blatantly untrue statement in an effort to get the industry to buy into the PartsTrader concept.
“Once again, CIC needs to get their priorities straight and select a leader from the collision industry to lead the CIC, not a leader from the insurance industry to lead the collision industry to slaughter. That one untrue statement alone from the State Farm consultant, George Avery, should be enough of a wake-up call for CIC to immediately remove Mr. Avery from the position of chairman, before it’s too late.
“Look, a lot of people thought we were like the boy who cried wolf when we first raised our concerns about this program,” Bryant adds. “But every month, PartsTrader gets deeper and deeper into our pockets. If we don’t fight back NOW, pretty soon there will be no pockets; pretty soon it will be too late. We’ve won these kinds of battles before, and we can win this one. But we have to stay together and stay strong. It looks like Arizona is the first to fall. We, as an industry, cannot let it go any further.”
For more information on AASP/NJ, please visit www.aaspnj.org. For more information on the NORTHEAST™ Automotive Services Show, please visit www.aaspnjnortheast.com.