WORLDPAC drives its business model through innovation
Las Vegas—For those waiting and planning for tomorrow’s world of technology and innovation, they should take stock that, for many, “tomorrow” has already arrived. But it’s never too late, and the aftermarket might take a few pointers from WORLDPAC’s Bob Cushing, who was the guest speaker at the recent AASA Executive Breakfast at AAPEX, themed “Innovating to Win in a Changing Market.”
“WORLDPAC has taken bold steps in innovating its business model according to the ever-changing industry and serving the needs of the import market,” said Bill Long, president and COO of AASA, who introduced Cushing. “It has demonstrated the ability to grow by using product data to successfully bridge the gap between supplier and service provider.”
Since becoming president and CEO of WORLDPAC in 2008, Cushing has expanded operations to include 104 more branches in North America and Puerto Rico. The company has also doubled its footprint in North America over the past eight years, Long said.
Cushing provided a brief company overview, including key contributors to its growth, the importance and challenges of differentiation, how technology drives its business, and challenges impacting the industry.
“Our goal is to provide real-time solutions for our customers,” he said. “There’s been a quantum leap in technology and tremendous demand increase for data to help guide us and our customers in the decision-making process.”
WORLDPAC’s all makes/all models coverage is largely a result of customer feedback from its annual survey of service shops, many of whom reported they’re expanding vehicle platforms and, therefore, their parts needs. “Why would we want to have our customers go elsewhere, when we can be a single source for all their products,” Cushing said. “It builds customer confidence and loyalty.”
WORLDPAC conducts 85 percent of its business by leveraging technology through its B2B e-commerce platform, speedDIAL, and its catalog, which uses ACES database taxonomy. “Everything we develop is focused on being customer-centric: product excellence in OE, OEM and OES, made available same-day; first-to-market strategy; operational efficiency; ease of doing business; and a strong supplier network by collaborating with our channel partners — all are instrumental in our strategy and success,” he said.
OE part numbers provide current manufacturer list prices that benefit WORLDPAC’s customers by giving them a benchmark in establishing their own pricing as a dealer-alternative when repairing a vehicle, he explained. Customers also benefit by having OE-level supplier information for their products, such as detailed fitment notes, additional products required to complete a repair, as well as links to manufacturer websites through speedDIAL. “It provides our suppliers an opportunity to showcase their brands and is a powerful selling tool for our channel partners — it’s their message, we’re just delivering it for our customers.”
Differentiation also drives customer loyalty growth along with service. “We developed a unique business model that was different from the traditional channel,” Cushing said. “We’ve always recognized that technology and data drive change in our industry. Understanding change drives innovation and provides opportunity for those who embrace it. WORLDPAC makes it easier to transact business every day with a value proposition to effectively and efficiently meet our customers’ needs to address new vehicle technology and business challenges.”
WORLDPAC has also developed smart phone and tablet mobile technology for speedDIAL. “Service writers can have better interaction with technicians and vehicle owners,” he said. “They can customize speedDIAL to showcase items for the customer, such as details about products being installed, repair service specifics, and pricing. It has total mobile versatility in the shop.”
SpeedDIAL also provides independent service centers online forums to interact and provide assistance for one another, from diagnostic issues to product selection. All 30 forums are car-make specific, with more than 40,000 active users. “It’s the second largest technician forum in North America behind iATN,” Cushing said.
WORLDPAC’s multi-brand strategy also provides differentiation by allowing customers to select preferred brands, whether it is OE, OEM, or OES, on a same-day basis. “We don’t push a brand, we offer choice of brand,” he said.
Supplier community must work together
Cushing outlined several ways the supplier community can help independent service centers face tomorrow’s challenges: build aftermarket sales; reduce reliance on dealers; expedite products to market faster; promote brand and protect brand image; provide features and benefits of products; assist in selling maintenance services; reduce or stabilize the amount of deferred maintenance; educate service advisors on changing technologies and their service opportunities; and help attract technically qualified talent.
“The supply chain has to work on forecasting more together for inventory requirements and getting product to the customer faster,” Cushing said. “We have to work on the entire supply chain. Technology continues to drive business, and that’s why we leverage it. We have to make sure technicians have the expertise to work on today’s platforms as they develop.”