WASHINGTON-The Motorist Assurance Program is definitely on a roll. The first stage of MAP's planned nationwide rollout of its uniform automotive inspection procedures and shop accreditation program was launched Aug. 22 in Newark, N.J., for the entire state, following successful ongoing pilot programs in participating service shops in Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.
Larry Hecker, MAP's president, has been busy coordinating plans to move the program into Detroit, Chicago, Richmond, Va., and communities in California over the next three months.
MAP is a Washington-based coalition that has issued a number of industry-developed Uniform Inspection Guidelines covering all major vehicle systems, a Pledge to Customers and Standards of Service.
It currently is finalizing revisions for its procedures on brakes, antilock brake systems, and steering and suspension. A revision of its exhaust system guidelines has just been completed, Mr. Hecker said, and should be printed by October and sent to MAP members. Those currently number more than 113, representing at least 180,000 service bays nationwide.
The organization will have a booth at the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association's convention and trade show in Atlanta, Sept. 5-8, but will not conduct any seminars there.
At the upcoming Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week (AAIW) trade shows in Las Vegas, MAP will have a booth and also will hold a quarterly meeting at 9:30 a.m., Nov. 4, in the Monte Carlo Hotel. Featured speaker will be Alan Wood, director of enforcement for California's Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR), which is responsible for policing the state's service shops for consumer fraud.
Mr. Hecker said MAP continues to receive ``excellent feedback'' from the pilot program's 99 participating locations, which include the auto service centers of Sears, Roebuck and Co., Pep Boys, Goodyear, Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., Montgomery Ward & Co., Midas International Corp., Speedy Car-X, Monro Muffler and Speedy Muffler King.
The number of customer complaints about auto repairs at those companies' facilities have decreased, as have complaints forwarded to the cities' Better Business Bureaus. Service-related comebacks to the stores have decreased by 15 to 20 percent. And Mr. Hecker said ``the level of professionalism among the technicians has improved, according to the participating companies.''
MAP's board, which includes representatives from throughout the automotive industry, recently decided to make the organization's shop accreditation program available to all members, not just in pilot areas.
Mr. Hecker said MAP also is pursuing working with the BAR in conjunction with a ``sunset provision'' in California that requires all regulatory agencies to go through an evaluation process every four years to determine whether they should continue. And if they do, to explore how each agency can be modified to help improve its level of efficiency and service to its constituencies.
As if it's plate weren't full enough, MAP also is working on a draft of a ``Communications Code of Conduct,'' which Mr. Hecker said will become part of a formal set of advertising standards for members. He's hopeful that will be completed by year's end.