Stronger together

Two mechanics behind a truck's engineer smiling to the camera

As an industry, where are we heading? For those like me who have been in this industry for many years, the dramatic changes that have occurred, and continue to occur, are hard to believe, let alone keep up with. These changes have only accelerated as technology has taken over the modern motor car.

As workshop owners and technicians, we have had to adapt to the fastchanging environment in which we work. The process of diagnostics has changed, together with almost everything we do during our working day. Most of us within the industry have learned to network, which has seen great results in making our challenging days easier. But what’s next?

I believe the next step is “Collaboration”

The broad definition of collaboration is the process of two or more people, entities or organisations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is like cooperation.

Collaboration has long been one of the main drivers of overall business success. More often than not, businesses that put in place the right strategies and tools to promote and facilitate collaboration in business and knowledge sharing are more likely to come up with innovative ideas, form beneficial long-term partnerships and move ahead of the competition. Within such businesses, employees are often asked and are even expected to collaborate, both internally and externally.

Is it time for the professional aftermarket workshops to start to collaborate together going forward?

I think the most important section is the reference to employees being asked and even expected to collaborate, both internally and externally.

Internal collaboration involves individuals within the workshop or company working together on a problem car or project. I’m sure this has been happening a lot already in workshops all over the world. Workshop owners and technicians need to be great team players with the right set of soft skills and an ability to work well in often diverse and multiskilled teams.

External collaboration, on the other hand, refers to the exchange and sharing of knowledge and expertise outside the workshop walls, with the aim to help a workshop solve their customers’ problem vehicles. Along with the technicians, other different parties can be involved in this process, ranging from suppliers to other workshops who in the past might have been seen as competitors.

For real success going forward, we need to learn to collaborate more externally

For external collaboration, the process is a bit more complicated and challenging. We may need to bring in more stakeholders, and indeed more diverse stakeholders. Strategically, workshops will need to determine which job functions with challenges and/or opportunities would benefit from external partnerships and expertise, to improve their performance and productivity.

Workshops should identify the right stakeholders and partners and choose the channels through which the collaboration would more likely be successful. I believe those who investigate and utilise this form of collaboration will be the most successful and least stressed.

Another form of collaboration is through strategic partnerships and alliances. This is where a workshop will have an agreement with other workshops or businesses. Workshops that engage in strategic alliances may share their resources and expertise for the sake of the partnership as a whole.

I believe this type of collaboration is the future for our industry. Workshops that form strategic partnerships and alliances do so to diversify their service offerings, mitigate the risks associated with undertaking new types of work, assist with the skill shortage, and continue to offer their clients a complete automotive service. To undertake all automotive repairs under one roof with internal staff is now becoming impossible. Collaboration is the key.

In reality, collaboration within the automotive aftermarket will take a wide variety of shapes and forms and will involve multiple stakeholders. For many workshops, the key to growth and ongoing success will depend on the workshops’ ability to lay the foundation for effective collaboration and to set up the right strategy and tools, taking into consideration the specific characteristics of our very unique industry.

This article was published 30/03/2023 and the content is current as at the date of publication.