The Future of MWACA
Over the last six months, there has been widespread upheaval within the Automotive Service Association following the installation of a new membership model that dissolved the existing affiliates in favor of a regional model that is overseen by ASA National.
As a direct result, nearly all of its preexisting affiliates, other than ASA Colorado, have cut ties with the organization. And while several of those affiliates are still planning out what its next steps will be, several of them have already decided. Within the last several months, ASA Northwest, ASA Illinois, ASA Pennsylvania and ASA Texas have all announced their intentions to join forces with the Midwest Auto Care Alliance (MWACA).
But what does that really mean? And what do the futures of those organizations look like? Ratchet+Wrench caught up with Sheri Hamilton, executive director of MWACA. Hamilton has been in charge of aiding the transition for each group.
An Alliance Agreement
Each of the affiliates that are transferring over have signed an alliance agreement, which is basically a franchise agreement, Hamilton says. The agreement gives the organizations the right to use MWACA’s branding and logos, even though each organization will have a different name.
ASA Florida is becoming the Florida Auto Care Alliance. ASA Northwest is now Northwest Auto Care Alliance. ASA Illinois is MWACA Great Chicagoland. ASA Pennsylvania is Mid-Atlantic Auto Care Alliance and ASA Texas is the Texas Auto Care Alliance.
It also gives the organizations access to all of MWACA’s benefits and programs, like marketing resources, which it has built up over the last 3 ½ years since it went through its own split with ASA.
Unlike ASA, there is no national board or executive team that is overseeing the various organizations. Instead, there is a “compliance committee,” which includes one member from each of the different Auto Care Alliances. The committee will only meet on an as needed basis in case one association is inactive or “goes off on the wrong track.”
It’s a distinction Hamilton wanted to maintain. She wants each organization to operate independently and instead use each other as a resource to help everyone grow.
Additionally, each of the organizations’ funding will be handled independently by each organization. As will its various elections, appointments, events, etc. All dues will only go to the Auto Care Alliance that collected them.
“I think that was what made ASA successful (originally), '' Hamilton says. “There’s so much community within a local affiliate. We’re giving them an ability to still have that organization. Let’s be honest, they’re independent business people for a reason, they like to make decisions on what is best for them and for the businesses locally. This puts member choice back in.”
There are not many requirements to become an Auto Care Alliance. The MWACA team initially reviews the organization’s existing bylaws to make sure they synergize with their own. They also review the organization’s current financials and leadership to understand its current form before they officially join. Each organization is also required to have a consistent meeting presence, at least an event or meet-up every quarter.
It’s part of the process that Hamilton has emphasized. Where many of the ASA affiliates struggled in the past was turning a profit. Events and meetings are the easiest way to do that, because they are non-dues revenue, she says. She hopes with the assistance of MWACA and the other organizations, each organization will be able to turn a healthy profit, which in turn will benefit the members.
Coming to Them
When ASA Midwest split off in 2018 to form MWACA, Hamilton and the rest of the board created the brand with the idea that other organizations could join them later down the road. For the past several years, she had on and off conversations with many of the affiliates, but they were never prompted by Hamilton.
“I never contacted an affiliate. They contacted us,” she says.
Following ASA’s announcement to change the membership model, Hamilton says every affiliate reached out to her. Some, like ASA Northwest, immediately committed to joining MWACA while others, like ASA Florida waited just days before the January 1, 2022 deadline.
Others, like ASA Ohio and ASA Arizona have committed to splitting from ASA but have not yet made an official announcement about their future plans.
Because of that, each of the organizations are still in the process of changing, branding, appointing leadership, etc. January 1, 2022 was the official date that all ASA affiliates had to make a decision. Some are further than others, with active websites and leadership. Because all the organizations are made up of volunteers, Hamilton expects it will take some time before everything is complete.
Hamilton also shared the latest update on the VISION Hi-Tech Training Expo, which is run by MWACA. Scheduled for March 3-6, 2022 in Kansas City, Mo., the event is still expected to run in-person, with necessary COVID protocol measures, if needed.
“Our intent is to focus it solely on attending in person,” says Hamilton, adding that if COVID forced it to change it would become a fully online event, not a hybrid event. There will be no hybrid event. “To do a hybrid event, there is an incredible investment in time and tech and dollars… Should COVID create issues and we have to go to a virtual format, we’re prepared to do that.”
Hamilton says the response to this year’s event has been “incredible.” There are expected to be over 500 first time attendees. While the event is open to anyone in the industry, there will also be an evening reception on March 3 only for Auto Care Alliance members, serving as the first in-person gathering for the new organizations to meet.