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The Last Word, Doug Kaufman’s monthly editorial, pays tribute to a dedicated industry leader.
The automotive repair industry lost a mentor, an advocate and a friend recently. Bob Greenwood, president and CEO of the Automotive Aftermarket E-Learning Centre, died of a heart attack on September 9. He was 71.
As a business coach and mentor to shop owners and jobbers across North America, Bob was recognized for his engaging style and ability to discuss this industry in ways that made being part of it less of a “job” and more of a profession.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Bob only a few weeks before his passing for a podcast episode of “Talking Shop with ShopOwner.” I had heard him speak years ago at a conference, but hadn’t officially met him until we spoke via Microsoft Teams.
Admittedly, he and I both were having trouble with our electronic connection that day. He could see but couldn’t hear me; I could hear but couldn’t see him. Our struggles to communicate made both of us laugh because the topic we were discussing was “Changing Technology – Is This The Same Aftermarket It Used to Be?”
Bob explained to me that what has traditionally been a purely mechanical, “fix what’s wrong by replacing a part” job, is now a technical profession. “I always like to say, the trade days are done,” he explained. “This is a true profession today. The amount of knowledge you need in a shop today from management right through to the front counter to the back office over to the technician is incredible.”
You know that, of course, but Bob pointed out that not everyone does. Sure, customers may still think of you as a greasy-knuckled mechanic but, unfortunately, so do some of your peers. And, if there are some who have not embraced this, it’s got to make it more difficult for the rest of the shops who are working hard to grow their business and the industry.
“I’m greatly concerned about the aftermarket and where it’s going. It’s got to understand that education is a necessity today. An average technician now requires a minimum of 100 hours of development courses a year now. Management requires six to eight days of management development a year now,” Bob said. “This attitude of not staying on top of things is exceptionally dangerous.”
Bob was slated to present his management training session at AAPEX in Las Vegas this fall – he was excited to help build relationships between shops and clients – never customers.
“A customer isn’t loyal, just price focused. A client, on the other hand, sees that you bring value to the table for what you’re charging to make sure each job is done correctly. And, your client recognizes that difference – that you’re there to look after their vehicle properly, based on how they use that vehicle and their expectations out of it,” Bob said.
You can listen to my Talking Shop conversation with Bob online at ShopOwnerMag.com or wherever you find your podcasts. If you knew Bob, you’ll smile at his memory. If not, you’ll learn from his wisdom. My condolences to his family, friends and coworkers on his passing.
AAPEX will still have great training – but we’ll all miss Bob’s perspective.