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GAAS Panel: Telematics Critical to Future of Indy Shops

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CHICAGO, May 20, 2014—Telematics is the new pathway to customer retention in the automotive aftermarket, and shop owners need to position their businesses to thrive through this latest industry trend.

That was the message from Tuesday’s panel discussion on Day 1 of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS) 2014 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare outside Chicago.

The presentation—entitled “Telematics and the Connected Car – How Does the Aftermarket Respond?”—consisted of five aftermarket professionals working on the leading edge of the technology.

And all shared a similar message on the importance of the technology when it comes to the viability and sustainability of the independent shop owner.

“Telematics is the car raising its hand saying I need something,” said Jim Dykstra, panelist and owner of Dykstra’s Auto in Michigan. “What if I’m not there when a car says it needs something? If a check engine light comes on, and I’m not there for that conversation, that’s bad for all of us.”

Dykstra’s three-facility business uses aftermarket telematics devices to monitor customer vehicles and communicate vehicle needs to the owners.

Other members of the panel were Charlie Gorman of the Equipment and Tools Institute, Mike Buzzard of Uni-Select USA, Fred Blumer of Vehcon Inc., and Malcolm Sissmore of Delphi Product & Service Solutions.

Each presented what their respective organizations are doing to push telematics technology forward and find a unified way for the information gathered by these devices to benefit the aftermarket industry in a meaningful way.

Buzzard, who led the discussion, highlighted the new features of Uni-Select's SmartLink telematics device. He too emphasized just how critical telematics will be for the independent shop owner.

“This is another tool to drive business into their bays” and give consumers an alternative to turning to the OEM, he said. “It’s about the shop owner and how we’re going to make them better and more successful”

For more information on GAAS 2014 and the discussions take place, visit the symposium’s website.

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