Federated Auto Parts' Car Care Center program maintains flexibility to adapt to the distinct characteristics of its independent affiliates.
The Staunton-based auto parts distributor uses its nationally recognized name to help its affiliates draw in extra business. Federated created its Car Care program about 15 years ago and it has improved every year, evolving into a comprehensive program, according to Phil Moore, vice president of member and industry relations.
Car Care is open to auto repair shops and to tire dealerships that offer undercar services. The network has about 70 distribution members and more than 3,000 affiliated Car Care locations in the U.S. and Canada.
Last year the program boosted its affiliated membership by 20 percent over the previous year, Mr. Moore said. He noted that Federated hasn't set a defined goal for membership growth this year but rather is focusing on growing its network steadily based on quality, not quantity.
``We find a person in a market who does the best job,'' he said. ``Sometimes there's one in a particular town. Sometimes there's four or five. It's a quality thing rather than quantity.''
Mr. Moore said that while Federated doesn't offer exclusive territories, it wouldn't have two car care centers in the same market. ``The value of the program is not to give it to everybody,'' he said.
The benefits Federated offers its car care affiliates, according to Mr. Moore, include:
* ``Quality parts to allow them to do the best job they can;''
* ``Visibility to attract customers through signage;''
* Training; and
* Opportunities to participate in marketing programs.
An affiliated car care center remains independent, only adding Federated signage to its own banner.
``We don't want to take them over,'' Mr. Moore explained. ``We just assist them in advertising their business. We believe a shop became successful because of who they are in a particular market. We don't want to change that. We're cognizant of the value of a name.''
In keeping with the independent nature of its affiliates, the Car Care program itself is flexible and each member distributor runs the program a little bit differently, he said.
There are no fees and members are not obligated to order a set volume of Federated merchandise. However, there is a discount schedule based on quantity of purchases. Federated distributes undercar and engine parts and tools from various vendors.
Building on the quality service of its affiliated dealers, Federated focuses on offering technician training, such as providing spec guides, training DVDs from vendors and Web-based training programs``new tools to help them do their job better,'' Mr. Moore said. Some member distributors also will periodically provide on-site training.
Federated also encourages its members to make their locations look attractive and inviting to customers. ``We stress to our shops: `Make it look like a place you want to go into,''' he said.
Federated offers store signage and point-of-sale materials, store design assistance, service equipment, a credit card program and warranties.
This year Federated added national advertising on ESPN Radio to support its affiliated dealers. The company also provides advertising support through its member distributors and Mr. Moore said every market creates its own ways of advertising. He gave the example of one market where members wanted to do Yellow Pages advertising, so they bought a large ad that included the names of 20 area dealers.