By Kevin Leahy
Auto Parts Centres, Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Grimsby, Ontario
Premium products are usually presented as the better quality alternative, often in a fancier box, and at a premium price. Yet, with automotive service providers who are looking at keeping costs down for value-conscious consumers, the temptation to stick with the value line is always there.
Knowledgeable counterpersons know you get what you pay for, and a higher-priced premium version is going to offer a better result. But how do you convince shop owners? Kevin Leahy of Auto Parts Centres in Ontario offers some great advice on why premium is often worth the extra effort it may take to inform your installer customers about the benefits.
Premium auto parts are quality parts, not just cheaper parts in a premium box. The companies that distribute these parts have trained sales reps who educate the parts store staff through seminars or training sessions, and visit regularly to review any changes or problems with the line. Most often, these premium companies offer installer tech lines and support if required. Installers also want to know that there is a good solid warranty, and late/modern vehicle availability is of the highest importance.
An extremely effective method of introducing (or reintroducing) installers to the product is dealing with the trained sales rep. Here at Auto Parts Centres, our in-house sales team is quite well-informed for customers who are looking for ways to increase productivity and/or reduce comebacks due to inferior auto parts. These brief meetings allow everyone in the shop to look at the product or put questions directly to the company rep, and puts the product line fresh in the minds of the installers. When you offer premium parts to the consumer, everyone in the shop can explain the benefits.
The second-most effective way to discuss or sell premium parts is through direct phone interaction between the shop and the counter staff. This gives the installer an opportunity to convey any concerns they may have with a previous installation, or to make sure the level of quality is matched to the consumer’s needs and wishes. During the quoting process, the parts staff have the opportunity to educate the installer to the benefits of premium components versus cost alone.
Installers tend to fall into three categories, and as counter staff, we have to determine quickly which type of installer we are dealing with, and match our recommendations accordingly. Type one installers are the ones who want input on quality and take suggestions from the counter to match the application requirements. Type two are the installers looking for suggestions after a previous failure; quite often, they will take the recommendation in the hope it will alleviate it.
Type three are the installers who do not want help deciding what products to install, and we simply sell them whatever level of parts they ask for. Unfortunately, these shops are often missing out on an opportunity to upgrade the consumer, and increase parts profitability.
A third, highly effective way to introduce installers to premium auto parts is a yearly trade show. It is this time when premium parts companies get their best opportunity to discuss the benefits of their products to the masses. Well-manned booths also give installers the chance to bring forward concerns. We have found this method works well, as months after our trade shows – I still receive inquiries about something someone saw at the show.
Following is a list of available products and the features they offer that will prove helpful for Counterpeople to communicate.
Chassis and Steering
Mevotech X Factor
Mevotech X Factor parts provide enhancements and quality that are designed to improve part life, performance, and durability. Premium features include:
- Highly durable sintered bearings around the ball joint
- Metal-to-metal designs to resist deformation due to heat and friction
- Greaseable ball joints for increased service life and consistent grease flow
- Thicker forgings reduce excessive flexing and twisting of the suspension system
- Components and hardware have been specially treated with a black oxide coating to increase strength and corrosion resistance.
The only aftermarket product line designed especially for heavy duty wear and tear. From top to bottom, Mevotech’s TTX parts have been engineered and designed to handle whatever tough work you can throw at it. TTX parts are built to provide extended maintenance cycles and keep your vehicle on the road.
XRF Chassis Parts
Extensive engineering and research by XRF has resulted in parts that better meet the needs of vehicles on the road today.
A few of the line’s premium features:
- “Reduced Friction” engineering adds up to smoother steering, better handling and increased fuel efficiency.
- XRF steering parts are built like anti-friction bearings, with very close tolerances and highly polished studs and bearings.
- XRF protective boots are made of “CR” compound rubber that is resistant to gasoline, oil, brake fluid, battery acid and road-level ozone.
- XRF uses mid-carbon steel for strength and heat treats for durability to produce a very robust long-life component.
- Parts are made exactly to specifications with “Zero Tolerance ” variations.
- Ongoing independent testing for superior quality.
Moog Complete Pre-Assembled Steering Linkage
Moog complete pre-assembled steering linkages are easy to install, saving time. Premium components come pre-assembled for quick and easy installation.
The complete kit includes all necessary MOOG Tie Rod Ends, which feature:
- Moog Problem Solver gusher bearing technology and greaseable design.
- Moog patented pressed-in cover plate design and Belleville washer, ensuring proper preload and consistent socket torque for the life of the part.
Designed as a direct steering linkage replacement for:
- 2000-2013 GM Full Size Trucks (various models)
- 2009-2013 Dodge Ram 2500/3500 4×4 trucks
- 2007-2016 Jeep Wrangler
- 1992-2005 Ford E-150 Econoline
- 1992-2006 Ford E-250 / E-350
Visit www.fme-cat.com for specific applications.
TrakMotive Premium Drive Shaft Assemblies
TrakMotive New Drive Shaft Assemblies are manufactured and engineered to the highest quality standards in the industry, ensuring they meet or exceed OEM manufacturers’ specifications in fit, form and function. All TrakMotive Drive Shaft Assemblies are 100% brand new and manufactured in the firm’s state-of-the-art ISO 9001:2008 and TS 16949:2009 facility.
Features & Benefits
- Premium forged 3-layer sealed U-joints provide maintenance free life and can handle higher torque loads
- U-joint cups are packed with premium lithium grease providing better lubrication and resistance to extreme temperatures
- Premium durable coating protects shaft from premature corrosion
- TPE (thermoplastic elastomers) Dust Boots provide better resistance to deformation, debris, oils, heat cycling and ozone compared to neoprene boots
- Stainless steel band clamps provide better resistance to deformation and stretching
- Special low friction sliding joint spline coating extends service life and eliminates movement that causes clunking noises
- Industry leading market coverage for both domestic and import applications
- Industry leading sales and technical support
- Limited lifetime warranty
- All units are 100% machine balanced to ensure trouble free service life from vibration and noise.
Moog Problem Solver
When it comes to undercar solutions, Moog offers a complete steering and suspension package. From engineering to testing to manufacturing to unmatched support, Moog always goes the extra mile to ensure thier parts live up to their reputation for quality and durability. By continuously introducing innovative design enhancements that extend product life or simplify installation and replacement, these products have been the industry’s problem solver for nearly 100 years.
Moog is the Official Steering & Suspension for NASCAR. Moog and NASCAR engineers collaborate on the development of safety critical components to ensure Moog parts are engineered for unsurpassed safety and durability. Moog is the preferred brand of professional technicians and top NASCAR crew chiefs.
Premium lighting products
Philips CrystalVision Ultra
CrystalVision Ultra upgrade headlights enhance a vehicle’s style while offering improved performance and no compromises on safety. Philips CrystalVision ultra headlights rival the look of HID thanks to the blue coating on the glass and the blue cap bulb, which creates a bright white light effect in the headlamp’s reflector in daytime.
Sylvania SilverStar Ultra
SilverStar Ultra is the brightest downroad halogen headlight in the Sylvania family of products. The brighter the light downroad, the farther you’ll be able to see. SilverStar Ultra headlights feature a whiter light for increased clarity, making it easier to distinguish between objects downroad, side road and in the periphery. The combination of farther downroad, whiter light, and more side-road illumination helps make night drives less stressful and more comfortable.
Tungsram Xensation, Megalight And Sportlight Lighting Families
Street legal, stylish automotive lighting emits up to 150% more light on the road, depending on model. Excellent visibility and illumination, with a greater illuminated area on the road, helps reduce accidents at night time or in poor visibility conditions. Manufactured using unique additives and special manufacturing technology, these lamps also have a higher colour temperature, emitting bluer light, for street-legal enhanced visibility and stylish looks.
The premier solution for the winter season is the Bosch Icon beam wiper blade. By design, beam blades are not affected by snow and ice buildup. The bracketless design and tension springs help keep the blade flexible and provide superior wiping performance in all climate conditions.
- Up to 40% longer life than other premium blades
- Patented beam design with an exclusive rubber technology
- Weather-shield double locking connector for easy wiper blade installation
- Customized precision fit and performance
- Exclusive asymmetrical flexible spoiler design
Driving in the rain can be stressful, especially at night. The new Bosch Envision
windshield wiper blade sharpens night visibility and offers extreme weather safety.
- NightFocus technology fuses the base connector and blade, forming a single core construction.
- ClearMax 365 rubber technology features a flexible dual synthetic rubber blend and a precision cut polymer edge.
- NightBlack spoiler combines a light absorbing charcoal powder and water repelling polymer compound.
- When the SafeCheck indicator turns yellow, it is time to check your blades for safer driving in rain, sleet and snow.
- Quick and easy installation
Pylon PowerBlades feature stainless steel flexors, all metal frames and graphite-coated blades for more consistent wiping, lateral stability and all-season performance. Preinstalled connectors make installation quick and easy.
Trico Force is a robustly engineered beam blade with a patented swept-wing spoiler that slices through wind speeds in excess of 220 kph/135 mph caused by cross winds, buffeting truck winds and general traffic turbulence.
Features and benefits:
- VorTec aerofoil converts wind force for maximum windshield contact
- HighGlide treated rubber element for a smoother, quieter wipe
- Robust superstructure for durable all-weather performance
- Swift easy connection technology
- Wiper blade size – available in lengths from 14” to 29”
Trico Tech lets your customers step up from a conventional windshield wiper blade to premium beam blade technology at a reasonable price.
Features and benefits:
- Swift easy connection technology offers quick and easy wiper replacement
- Memory Curve Steelbeam provides uniform pressure for the clearest wipe
- Tested to perform over 1.5 million cycles
- All-weather durability
- Wiper blade size – available in lengths from 13″ to 29″
I totally agree with your thoughts. The reality is these premium parts sometimes fail prematurely, not because of installation, but to poor quality. When we sell premium parts with a premium warranty and they fail prematurely it looks bad on the installing shop. Quality has slipped lately which is concerning to all shops who promote premium parts. Yes my jobber looks after me for product and sometimes labour but it is the reputation that is tarnished when this occurs. Some shops put a lifetime warranty on cheaper parts making it difficult for consumers to justify paying more for quality parts. Doing business today is far more difficult than it was in the past.