Why Right to Repair Matters to Your Auto Repair Programs
If you’ve heard about the Right to Repair movement, you may wonder why it matters to your auto repair programs. After all, you keep busy with aftermarket repairs and focusing on your present clientele. However, just like shop management software, new laws can impact how much you earn in 2023 and beyond.
This overview intends to bring you up to speed on:
- What Right to Repair really means
- Why this matters to you
- What you can do about it
- Where you can learn more
The Auto Care Association has named July Right to Repair Awareness Month to engage its members in its lobby. It represents the interests of all auto repair shops so we can continue to do the valuable work we do.
What Right to Repair really means
Do you remember how Blockbuster used to dominate the video rental industry? At that time, it seemed like a giant that would never lose its grip on the market. Yet, a few decades later, some people don’t even recognize its name when it comes up in conversation.
What happened to change its fate? In short, technology evolved and consumers switched to streaming their movies instead. Companies like Netflix switched from DVD delivery to a system where you could easily watch from home.
Likewise, Kodak led the photo film business for years before consumers decided that digital is better. So, how do we avoid having our own Kodak moment?
What’s at stake?
You already know that we compete daily with dealerships to serve customers with the best auto repair programs. However, do you know how car makers try to block us from getting the car repair program data we need?
They do this to corner the market on servicing their makes and models. Meanwhile, they know that independent auto repair shops often offer a cheaper option closer to home.
Yet, they portray us as a security risk due to our auto repair programs. They take a leap by saying that releasing car repair program data could leak personal information as well. At a time when people want to protect their privacy, this message really worries them.
Gabrielle Hopkins, VP of Federal Affairs with ACA, lobbies for fair auto care rules on Capitol Hill.
“Technology should not shut out competition in auto repair,” she said at the Women in Auto Care conference. “Vehicle owners should have a choice.”
So far, the car makers have invested $25 million to fight the laws to make them cooperate. If we don’t respond to fight for our rights, these companies could wipe out our industry in the next decade.
Why this matters to you and your auto repair programs
The market has always allowed consumers to freely choose where they get their car repaired. So far, the automotive aftermarket has already won several victories for Right to Repair.
These include a win for car diagnostic data in Massachusetts in 2012 and for wirelessly-generated vehicle data in 2020.
The Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act guaranteed car makers must provide data and tools to all repair shops. That way, we could provide service equal to that offered at any dealership, thanks to our auto repair programs.
Since then, automakers filed a lawsuit to overturn the 2020 decision and we still await a ruling. If that happens, just imagine trying to fix cars without that data for your auto repair programs.
While the car makers may seem unbeatable, there are 4.4 million people working in car repair who can fight back. That compares to 1.2 million who work for dealerships.
The Auto Care Association has gained support for the REPAIR Act to secure the Right to Repair for all Americans. However, we need to secure co-sponsors in this term of Congress to make it into law.
Without a nation-wide solution, we end up having to fight state by state to keep our businesses open.
According to the latest ACA FactBook, our industry should grow by 8.5% in 2022 as economic conditions stabilize. “The automotive aftermarket is expected to be a $514 billion industry by 2024,” it projects.
But if we lose this battle, that growth could disappear.
Where you can learn more
The ACA has information that you can download, read and share with your customers. You can also find:
- A short summary of the issue
- Logos to add in your shop
- Information to share with your employees
- Social media images like the ones you see in this article
Some of them have QR codes to take people right to the ACA website where they can get more details.
This movement also impacts other industries, such as companies who make your smartphone or tablets. You can find out more about those sectors beyond auto repair or the history of the battle so far.
What you can do about Right to Repair
First, you can choose to do nothing and let others fight the battle for you. However, you risk losing your livelihood if not enough people step up.
Second, you could read about the reasons why this is happening and decide if you wish to get involved.
Perhaps you’ve watched how the trucker lobby inspired politicians to address that labor shortage. Meanwhile, the car makers point to the auto repair tech shortage as a reason to limit options.
Instead, shops can push to address back on why students aren’t learning about skilled trades as much as they should.
The ACA gives you a range of options to protect your car repair programs:
- Donate to support the lobby
- Talk with your colleagues
- Tell your customers and circle of friends what’s at stake
- Write or call your Member of Congress
- Go to town hall meetings and raise this issue
- Post messages about it on social media
You can also address the environmental impact of buying new cars and tablets rather than fixing them. At a time when consumers cannot buy new cars, they need an army available to fix the ones they have.
Our industry has come so far on this front. Not only do we recycle parts and fluid, we use auto repair programs that use less paper. Additionally, our software integrates with car repair programs that allow more control over workflow and parts ordering. As a result, you move cars far less often during the day.
Only 3 percent of bills make it through Congress and the Senate to get enacted as law. Therefore, it will take much effort and teamwork for this to happen.
As Gabrielle says, “Act today to protect our future.”
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