ACA Research says that regardless of whether you’re manufacturing, distributing, retailing, or fitting auto parts, running a business is hard

You need to tap into any advantage you can, which includes using data to help you make better decisions.
This can however be challenging, with too much information available and not enough time to make sense of it, so here are some tips to get you started.
Firstly, we must remember that data by itself is useless. Data helps us answer a question, so that’s where we must start: a clear question that is unique to your business.
Once this has been defined, we can find the ‘right tool for the job’. It is also important to factor in our knowledge and understanding of our business, industry, customer base, local area, etc., as all of these help us work out what’s important, and what will provide meaning.
Organisations like the AAAA can also play a key role, supplying information that can help members with this process.
Here are three example questions we might ask, and the data we might use to answer them.

1. What vehicles will I be servicing?
Electric vehicles are coming, but how fast? While they will be relevant in the future, I’m not yet seeing them in my workshop. It’s more relevant for me to look at what’s currently operating in my local area.
As can be seen in this extract from the AAAA member exclusive car parc tool, the top vehicles in my area are small cars, with a heavy skew to Toyota. I need to ensure I invest in the tools, technicians, and training to service these vehicles before I start thinking about EVs.

Figure One: AAAA member localised car parc data

2. Where are the opportunities for my business?
While I’ve got a good business servicing Toyotas in my local area, I want to grow. I’m interested in the fleet market, so can look at the businesses operating in my local area.
As shown in the Figure Two chart (using publicly available data), the region is dominated by Construction and Transport and Logistics businesses. Supporting these businesses will require a level of confidence servicing vans and utes, so I now know I need to invest in these vehicles before targeting this opportunity.

Figure Two: AAAA member localised car parc data

3. How do I make better staffing decisions?
Staffing has always been a challenge, but it’s getting worse. I need to understand the context here, as it impacts how I manage my people, and the potential for growth.
Looking at listings for trade jobs on Seek, I can see that they’ve increased from ~8,000 in May 2020 to over 30,000 today. This tells me how competitive the market is for talent, and that I need a clear point of difference to attract new staff, exactly the same as when it comes to attracting new business. Also, it highlights the value of investing in training for current employees, given how hard it would be to find talent externally.

Figure Three: Trade jobs on Seek

While these are three examples of questions that might be asked, yours could be completely different. Regardless, there is data that can help you answer them, and give you more confidence in your decisions moving forward.
Remember though… the first step is identifying the right questions to ask!

This column was prepared for AAA Magazine by ACA Research, the AAAA’s partners in the AAAA Aftermarket Dashboard which is delivered to AAAA members each quarter.

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