AASDN WA MEMBERS UNITE FOR THE GREATER GOOD
Chris Notte is the Chairman of the Australian Automotive Service Dealer Network WA (AASDN WA); a group of quality, independent automotive workshops building new business relationships, generating business opportunities, exchanging knowledge and expertise, and leveraging buying power
As Chairman of AASDN WA, Chris Notte understands the benefits that networking, shared experience and camaraderie can deliver to independent business operators.
Born and raised in the Swan Valley region of Western Australia, Chris has always stayed close to home.
“I have never lived more than a few kilometres away from my parent’s first house,” Chris said.
“It is a great place to live; we have many awesome food and drink venues in the area.”
Chris, who is also the Managing Director of AutoplusWA, knew from an early age that he was destined to be a business operator, though he had a couple of false starts as a child.
“I remember starting a veggie garden with my cousin and then selling the produce, before I moved on to trying to sell mice. Let’s just say breeding the mice was easy, selling them was not!” he explained.
“I also helped at the family fuel station on holidays.”
Around this time Chris also developed a passion for motor vehicles.
“My uncle Neil always loved cars and we made buggies and paddock cars to drive around the property. From making, painting and breaking them, I quickly got hooked on cars and started reading and learning all I could about how engines and cars worked long before I started an apprenticeship at 14,” he said.
His first ‘real’ job was as an apprentice mechanic at a workshop owned by his parents and uncle.
“I was lucky enough to be trained by my uncle, who had left the army, started a mature age apprenticeship and won apprentice of the year,” Chris stated.
“There was another mechanic working there which gave me the opportunity to learn quickly. It all progressed from there; managing the workshop and seeing customers, running the workshop and office, and then managing the office only.”
Despite the demise of his mouse breeding business, Chris, with encouragement and support from his father, developed his entrepreneurial mindset.
“My dad always told me I could do whatever I set my mind to, as long as I had commitment and dedication,” Chris explained.
“As I completed my apprenticeship, this got me thinking more about the business and systems side. While I loved the mechanical and electrical side of my apprenticeship, I was more interested in understanding how things could be done better in a business sense.”
Today, he runs a very successful business, employing “an awesome team of 14” people. That’s not to say it’s been all smooth sailing; a few lessons have been learnt along the way.
“Most of them have been because it has taken too long to make a decision. Others have involved purchasing equipment and other things for the business that have had a super-low ROI and have not been worth the effort. Those lessons made it easier to decide what we needed to purchase in the future, making decisions quicker,” he said.
Describing himself as organised, quick to learn and a high achiever, Chris values attitude over skill in business.
“With the correct attitude and application, you can always upskill, but in the workplace, having skill and a bad attitude will eventually bring the rest of the team down, nullifying the gains made by the extra skill level,” he said.
Remembering the encouraging words of his father, Chris says aspiring young business people looking to enter the industry should seek out similarly supportive industry professionals.
“First of all, get a mentor, surround yourself with like-minded people in the industry, join an industry association and be active with in it. Then, never stop learning and don’t be afraid to ask for help,” he said.
With that understanding, it’s no surprise that Chris became involved with AASDN WA.
AASDN operates in two regions under the banners AASDN WA and AASDN NSW and ACT. Both have their own committee, planning structure and preferred suppliers, however the goals of providing support, training and sharing of information remain the same.
Formed in July of 2013, AASDN WA evolved from a disbanded industry group and continued with the commitment and direction of the committee and members who realised the value they could provide to the industry.
“ASSDN WA is flexible in its direction and decision-making process. We get feedback from members on what they want and can implement changes in a short amount of time. We are a not for profit organisation and everyone involved is here for the same reasons; they genuinely want to help others and be involved in their industry,” Chris said.
“The association has grown its quality workshop membership base to 39, whilst continuing to raise the standard of training provided with increased levels of engagement from the committee and members. The training on offer now includes expert business building training such as accounting, business planning and customer service.
“One of the services AASDN WA provides is a subscription to Automate Training for all members of their workshop. This gives members the opportunity to continue to up skill in between training events. We are expanding our Technical Facebook page to include a chat program with all AASDN WA members linked for quick access to technical questions and answers.
“AASDN WA has spent the last year developing its own tool library for members’ use. The tools are kept centrally and we are setting up delivery runs with our preferred suppliers to move them around.
“Being environmentally and efficiency conscious, and to keep up with current technology, AASDN WA has also moved towards a paperless administration system. Booking into meetings will be made digitally and soon checking into events will be done the same way.”
Aside from these valuable services, membership also offers the chance for members to bounce ideas off each other.
“AASDN events are well supported with the AGM and Christmas functions often having more than 90 percent of members attend. These events provide a great opportunity for members to network with like-minded workshops,” Chris explained.
AASDN WA has eight preferred suppliers – AHG Trade Centre, Burson Auto Parts, Capricorn, Castrol, Covs Parts, Imparts, Tyre Connect and United Automotive Solutions – and Chris says they are essential to the organisation’s successful operation.
“The progress and relationships we have made, and continue to build, with our preferred suppliers has helped AASDN WA provide the level of training and support that we need to continue to move forward,” he said.
Despite its considerable success, the organisation faces challenges into the future.
“Like any growing association, the challenge is to maintain the things that have made it great while continuing to grow. We are aware of this and are implementing systems to streamline our process going forward. As technology evolves, making sure we provide current and relevant training to benefit a workshop’s bottom line is, and will always be, a challenge. Feedback from our members is important to us; it’s how we make sure they are getting the best value possible.”
Chris has also identified several future goals.
“Increasing our membership with like-minded workshops and maintaining and building our relationships with preferred suppliers, will give us the opportunity to further raise our standard of training,” Chris said.
“This means more high-profile trainers doing events for AASDN WA members exclusively. We will continue to expand the tool library, eradicating the need for our members to hold a huge amount of tools they may only use once a year.
“We will also continue with events that give our members and their families a chance to interact, unwind and share tales with like-minded people.”
Having a good appreciation of the benefits of belonging to an industry association, Chris also speaks highly of AAAA.
“AAAA provides a huge list of member benefits that are real value for money. For example, being able to have contact with a lawyer who knows the industry, is priceless,” he said.
“The AAAA also has a clear direction and path on its policies and strategies going forward that align with AASDN WA. Membership to AAAA is included within AASDN WA membership and we highly recommend it to anyone who is not a member.”
Though running two busy organisations is clearly demanding, Chris is fortunate to enjoy the support of a loving family.
“We have a family of four. My wife Sarah and I have been married for 10 years and we have two girls Ariela, (aged six) and Sienna (aged four). My girls mean the world to me and are at the age where they are always making us laugh! Sarah supports me in everything I do and has a lot on her plate being a mum, wife and our bookkeeper; I thank her for her continual support,” he said.
For more information on the AASDN WA, visit www.aasdnwa.com.au