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Management: Where Does the Small Shop Fit?

Is MAP (Motorist Assurance Program) relevant to independent shop owners and automotive technicians?

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“Is MAP (Motorist Assurance Program) relevant to independent shop owners and automotive technicians?”

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That’s an increasingly common question from those who look over MAP’s member list and see the names of large chains. MAP is an inclusive organization. It seeks the involvement of all firms in the automotive parts and repair industry, regardless of size.

MAP is also representative of a trend affecting a variety of industries and professions — responding to problems through constructive collective action.

Some people in the business might be offended at the notion that anyone would think they’re not trustworthy. “Maybe that other shop down the street, or a couple of the big chains that have had problems. But not me! My customers know me. And more importantly, I know my customers and what’s best for them.”

This refrain often rings hollow. Perfection eludes even the best companies and organizations. Without uniform guidelines and some basic standards, how will anyone — consumer, shop owner, technician, retail manager, government regulator — know what criteria to use in evaluating levels of performance?

If each company makes up its own standards, the consumer gets widely different treatment and advice, not to mention confused.

When more and more consumers get more and more upset about what they see as an overall lack of uniformly reliable treatment by any variety of repair shops, what do they do? They complain. Loudly. And government agencies charged with the responsibility of consumer protection step in and impose a one-size-fits-all regulation.

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MAP’s Uniform Inspection and Communication Standards do reflect the reality repair shops, both large and small, have to face because they have been developed by the car manufacturers and automotive repair companies themselves. Now, right here is where the small shop owner or technician might raise a hand and shout “Whoa! Those were developed by the ‘Big Guys’ — but what about me?”

Actually, the big guys were only part of the group. Small shops, represented by members of FAQT, state ASA chapters, independent dealers/franchisees, and technical trainers from parts and equipment suppliers (the same ones that supply both the large and the small firms), took part in the uniform inspection guidelines’ development sessions.

Regulators in many states are expanding their horizons. While publicity and corporate “deep pockets” motivate them to go after the larger firms, the regulations that result (including the trend toward licensing and minimum training standards) affect all shops operating in the area.

Add to that the notion that strict adherence to MAP’s Standards of Service would have saved many of these firms the embarrassment (and a few dollars!), one can see that participation in the Motorist Assurance Program benefits everyone — no matter how “big” or “little” they might be.

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To learn more about MAP, visit www.motorist.org.

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