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Scott Barone is an automotive parts and service industry veteran of 30 years. He spent 25 years with the Mopar parts division of Chrysler Corp. and was the co-founder of OEConnection LLC, where he served six years as a board member. Currently, as senior manager, wholesale parts operations for Volkswagen Brand After Sales, he is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of Volkswagen of America’s wholesale parts operations based in Herndon, Va.
Barone recently shared with BodyShop Business the initiatives Volkswagen is undertaking to support the collision repair industry.
What is the Volkswagen of America After Sales Group doing to grow their wholesale business?
Specific to the collision business, VWoA wants to ensure that all VW owners receive the highest quality repairs, which includes replacing all damaged parts with VW original equipment parts. To achieve this, Volkswagen offers independent collision shops the opportunity to become a member of their Certified Collision Repair Facility program, or CCRF. The first step for an independent is obtaining a sponsorship from an authorized VW dealer in their area. Once the VW dealer nominates an independent shop, VW conducts a series of evaluations to determine whether the independent shop meets the CCRF program criteria.
What business tools is VWoA providing to help their dealers form strong relationships with independent collision shops?
We’ve introduced our CRM (Customer Relationship Management) initiative to create a greater working relationship between dealers and independent collision shops. Dealers can use the CRM tool to offer independents seasonal promotions, pricing discounts, product information updates and technical support. I believe it is by far the single most comprehensive customer management tool in the industry. I can say this because many of our parts directors – who work within multiple franchises – tell us that it’s the best.
You mentioned the importance of technical support. Can you elaborate?
Technical information and support are critical to independent shops. Advanced repair technology is making life more challenging for the independents, and we want to ensure that repair information and assistance are readily available. To provide the support necessary, we offer free technical support to any repair shop that purchases a VW original equipment part from a VW dealer (participating in CRM). The service is both free and unlimited. We’re very proud to offer this feature – at no charge – to all repair shops that purchase VW OE parts.
Collision shops want OEM parts, competitive pricing and excellent customer service. What are VW dealers doing to meet these requirements?
Over the past two years, a number of our VW dealers have received extensive training in all aspects of wholesale operations, including elite customer service. For example, they’re implementing advanced routing procedures, installing high-tech monitoring devices, expanding their delivery fleet and adding dedicated wholesale sales representatives. The end result has been an increase in collision part sales and improved customer satisfaction. We refer to these dealers as our Signature Wholesale Dealers, and they’ve made the commitment to be the best of the best wholesaling dealers.
What type of corrosion perforation does VW provide?
Depending on the model, Volkswagen provides limited corrosion perforation coverage up to 12 years on all body sheet metal panels.
Are there any other initiatives that VWoA is currently undertaking to support the collision market?
Absolutely. VWoA has made a major commitment in human capital. We’ve established a new Wholesale Operations Parts team solely dedicated to helping VWoA dealers and their wholesale customers grow the business. We have a wholesale specialist in each of our five regions, along with a field manager, working with our dealers in all aspects of the wholesale business. These specialists have many years of experience in the automotive business and understand the needs and wants of the independent repair shops.
Thank you for the opportunity to discuss Volkswagen’s wholesale initiatives with your readers.