Yesterday, I mentioned how important trade associations are as a window on your prospective or existing clients. Not just to learn facts about the industry but more importantly these associations show you what matters to these folks. Lets say you do the books for a couple auto businesses. You like the people you deal with, you understand their business from an accounting perpective and you’d like to do more business with these guys. Maybe you represent a auto detailing shop and an auto repair place. Here are some questions, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association might be able to help you with. First, there is the name itself. What is an aftermarket? I just go to google and put in, “define: aftermarket.” I come back with this definition from Auto Shop Owner Glossary: ”The market for replacement parts, service, accessories, and equipment for the care or enhancement of the original product, esp. an automobile, after its sale to the consumer”
Already you’ve broaden your understanding of this market and because of your expertise with a couple businesses, maybe able to appeal to many more. So who are all these folks?
Many associations have online directories. Some are restricted to use only by members but fortunately the AAIA, makes its directory public. This allows me to search geographically to see what businesses are in my area. It gives address and contact information. Also they allow for searching industry segments so you learn that body shops, auto warehouses, auto eletrical companies, tools, engine repowering and trim are among the membership.
What do they are care about? I found a conference agenda for the Auto Aftermarket Products Info and from the breakout sessions, I learned that this industry is focused internationally on imports, on Japanese hybrids on doing business with China and India. What are the accounting issues that might related to doing significant business with businesses in other countries? Have you had to deal with that with my current clients? Can you use this as a selling point for more businesses in this industry?
Are there related industries? One thing I learned is this organization is fighting for the right to repair cars against the auto manufacturer who, I guess, don’t want them as competition. This is important for me to know so I don’t extoll the virtues of auto manufacturers not knowing there maybe bad blood between these industries.
How do they talk about their products and services? The AAIA has a glossary of terms (which doesnt contain a definition for aftermarket so realize you sometimes need multiple glossaries to understand a new line of business) so if you want to go after stores that sell waxes and polishes, you better know that these are called “Appearance Products.” You can use these terms to then find out the manufacturers and product lines. The more you can talk the language of your clients, the more excited they will be to talk with you and you build trust with them. You appear knowledgeable and interested in their business. That can only help.
Happy Auto Mechanic