How will 2009 compare to 2008?

This past fall we asked you a lot of questions pertaining to your outlook for 2009. Your responses were encouraging as 85 percent of you were predicting greater or equal revenue in 2009 over 2008. The big question, as we continue into 2009, is whether this optimism is holding true. I read the postings on the Automotive Management Association site and shop comments were all over the board, so I can only assume that this year is what you are making of it.

I visited a shop recently that said his business was okay. His customers were coming in to fix anything that was broken. Any efforts to add preventative work was quickly nixed by most customers. Only when the maintenance work was necessary to prevent an eminent repair bill was there any success in getting additional dollars out of the customer. Sound familiar?

It’s no secret that new car sales have plummeted. In fact, I read recently in the Wall Street Journal that Chrysler may be done. No amount of bailout money can save them, according to one analyst. Even the deal with Fiat requires another $3 billion from Uncle Sam. That’s hard to swallow, but maybe Lee Iacocca can come back with his polished salesmanship to save the day.

Falling car sales should help the aftermarket as cars age. Whether maintenance or repairs, cars need more attention as they grow older. Mike Murray, president of Mac Tools, said recently that older cars need to be fixed twice as often as newer cars. This we know; what we need is for car owners to start maintaining their cars to avoid costlier repairs. This will be good for all of us.

Let us know your view on this year at LMG@pten.com. In the meantime, we will continue delivering tool and equipment information to help you keep all the right tools in the toolbox.

Larry M. Greenberger

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