Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'

Over the last 18 months, one of the most dominating sales figures in the automotive aftermarket comes from heavy-duty vehicles. Due to eminent engine design changes, there has been a rush to purchase new vehicles before stricter environmental policies are implemented, and make these models more expensive to operate and maintain. Although there are significantly fewer vehicles in these weight classes then there are light trucks and passenger cars, opening your bays to service them still offers a number of unique advantages.

First, much like the crop of vehicles you currently service, maintenance is key. However, because these vehicles have a lifespan that far exceeds an average car or light truck, there are more maintenance and repair opportunities. Additionally, whether the customer is an independent contractor or corporate or government fleet, they are more likely to invest in repairs than to scrap the vehicle in favor of a new one. This is dictated not only by the vehicle's durability, but also because of the much higher price tag they carry.

To capitalize on these opportunities, your shop will, obviously, need to make some investments in terms of tools, equipment, training and promotion. The last of which might be the most important. After all, having the capabilities and know-how are worthless if nobody realizes that your shop is a viable option for this type of service.

In 2004, this segment saw growth that was nearly 50 percent higher than the light vehicle market. And although information access is in the infancy stages when compared to passenger vehicles and light trucks, the tools and equipment for these services can be found from many of the same suppliers and manufacturers that you currently buy from and use every day.

As things constantly change within our marketplace, taking advantage of new opportunities will be the difference between the shops that fade away, and those that will be there, standing at the ready for the next change ... the next challenge.