ALL PART OF A BIGGER PICTURE
With more than 80 members, Parts4 is one of Australia’s largest chain of independent automotive parts retailers
The Parts4 story starts back in the early 2000s when a small group of ten independent automotive parts store owners met to discuss joining forces to improve their buying power and fend off the increasing pressure from the industry’s giants.
“It was in that meeting that the seed for what we know today as Parts4 was planted,” Parts4 Automotive Business Development Manager, Kim Mamourey, said.
“Those ten foundation members were visionaries. Today Parts4 has more than 80 members across Australia, and we’re still growing fast.”
In the early days, the Parts4 member acquisition program was pretty basic and relied heavily on word-of-mouth. But as the group’s numbers swelled and their offer was refined, they took the leap and bought Kim on-board.
“Right around the time I started with the group the big guys were trying to swallow up automotive stores and dominate the market,” Kim explained.
“But our members are fiercely independent and pushed back as they want to make their own decisions, control their destinies, and be more than just obedient servants to massive corporate machines.”
Kim brought a wealth of automotive experience to Parts4, and his appointment signalled a new era for the group.
“There is power in numbers, and I was tasked with building out our member offer and growing the group,” said Kim.
“While I was confident, the growth we have achieved has exceeded my expectations, but I still feel the best is yet to come.”
Kim says the Parts4 model is attractive and he has big plans in place for future growth. He explains it allows members to purchase stock at extremely competitive pricing, provides them access to marketing and promotional activities, and above all, helps secure their future in this extremely competitive industry.
“We’re not there to profit from our members. We’re here to help members to compete out in the marketplace,” Kim said.
“More and more independents are realising that they need to be part of some sort of group so that they can survive. And that is the benefit of joining Parts4, because they belong to a group but then still have control over their business.
“We work with a common goal of trying to make sure that the independents can stay strong in the marketplace,” he added.
There is little doubt that Kim has put in some hard yards since joining the group; knocking on doors around Australia to let store owners know there is a group for independents they can join, but which won’t dictate to them.
“When we tell people what we can offer them as an independent, it’s pretty hard for them to say no,” said Kim.
“If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that it sounds too good to be true, I’d be retired because there is no catch in what we offer. We’re owned by our members and run for our members.”
Kim has set some aggressive growth targets, and his plan is to exceed 100 members in 2022.
“Our offer is compelling. I believe we are nearing the end of the consolidation strategy that the larger players have used to fight for market share in the recent past,” Kim explained.
“Last year, I completed a fact-finding trip to the US during which I spoke to a variety of different automotive companies to get a feel as to what we might experience in Australia over the next three to five years.
“I found that we’re really not that different to the US. We’re just on a lot smaller scale. They went through the process earlier on that they had their consolidation, and we had ours later on.
“Still, I was excited to discover that independents continued to thrive in what is considered the world’s most competitive aftermarket industry.”
When quizzed on the future of the Australian car parc’s changing dynamics, Kim provided some fascinating insights.
“The biggest challenge I see facing the entire industry in the next decade is the growth in popularity of electric vehicles,” said Kim.
“They are coming, but while we see more and more on the road every day, in reality, they only account for a tiny percentage of total new car sales.
“And we know from our experience that when vehicle manufacturers invest in new technology, it takes quite a long time for it to affect the aftermarket.
“Stop-start batteries are a great example. While this technology has been a feature in new vehicles for many years, we are only just now starting to see a demand for them in our stores.”
When comparing the Parts4 business model to the larger players in the industry, Kim drew an interesting comparison.
“Parts4 is like a 40ft Cruiser while the larger corporates are more like cruise liners,” Kim described.
“We’re much more agile as a group, and this allows us to pivot quickly to take advantage of new opportunities and react quickly to changing market conditions while the big guys struggle to shift from their plotted course.”
A critical ingredient to the success of Parts4 is its robust supplier relationships.
“We’ve got a great relationship with our suppliers. We work closely with them and meet regularly to look at the trends. Then we overlay these learnings with the valuable information provided by AAAA to build our forward plans,” said Kim.
“We value our AAAA membership highly because they have a global perspective that we’d miss without their assistance.”
Due to the nature of the Parts4 business and their commitment to independence, no two stores are alike. Still, all have an unwavering commitment to delivering the highest levels of customer service.
“Traditionally, our members stock products like filters, brakes, oil, cooling components, under-car parts, lighting, transmission, those sorts of things, mixed in with a small range of accessories. So, we sit between how you’d consider a normal Burson and Repco store would look,” Kim said.
“If you need the right advice and the correct parts to fix your vehicle, we’ll have them. The majority of our members are ex-mechanics, and all are car enthusiasts with excellent knowledge that they can share with their customers.”
As a result of their extremely strong relationships with suppliers and the ‘family’ culture they have nurtured, Kim says Parts4 members are willing to chase those hard-to-get-at parts for you that a lot of the big stores aren’t interested in sourcing.
“If a member receives an enquiry for a part and is having trouble sourcing it, many will just call another member for advice. While all our stores are independent, we have fostered a culture that ensures our members work together to deliver exceptional outcomes for customers,” said Kim.
Taking a closer look at the Parts4 member profile reveals their trade focus.
“I’d say that if you averaged it out across our 80 stores, you’d find that we are about 70 percent trade and 30 percent DIY,” Kim described.
“But it doesn’t matter who walks through the door – every one of our customers receives the same level of attention and expertise.
“That’s why our customers keep coming back.”
Kim believes that the future is bright for the automotive aftermarket and that the time is right for business-minded people to consider entering the market.
“The automotive aftermarket is strong, and it’s going to continue to be strong for many years,” Kim said.
“The beauty of the Parts4 model is that it can be adapted to someone that’s wanting to get into a new business or for owners running any existing auto parts store.
“Because we don’t dictate to our members, we encourage them to use the preferred suppliers that we have on board.
“While we don’t mandate that they must purchase from our preferred suppliers, it is to their advantage if they do as we collect rebates from them and pay these back to our members twice a year.”
Kim said the ‘Parts4 family’ is very supportive and welcoming for new members.
“The Parts4 community quickly embraces new members, but more often than not, we call it the Parts4 family,” said Kim.
“When you’ve got the support of 80 family members behind you, and even if you don’t have knowledge in the automotive industry, you’ll quickly discover that our members are willing to share their expertise to help any new member prosper.
“Our strength is our people, and as we continue to acquire new and committed members, our value grows,” he added.
For more information, visit www.parts4.com.au