Automotive aftermarket research: What’s in it for you? Plenty.

If you’re like me, you probably don’t have time to participate in surveys. Whether they are online, written, or over the phone.

But if the survey has something to do with my own well being, be it personal or business, I  try to make time. Surveys allow researchers to develop reports that allow us to make better decisions.

Financial research has been available for a fee to the aftermarket for some time. But as more research is being done, there are more opportunities for shops to participate in surveys and have access to the results. The research addresses how the overall industry is faring. Some research indicates what areas shops are investing in – tools, personnel, marketing, training, etc.

If a survey happens to come your way, it could be an opportunity to do something to better your business.

I recently spoke with an analyst who does market research on the automotive aftermarket. This particular company develops market research for the investment community. While the readers of are not primarily investors, the reports this company publishes can help independent automotive shops get a better handle on their market. The purpose of our conversation was to see if there is some way that could workwith this company to develop market information that will benefit the aftermarket.

The analyst I spoke with agreed to talk about his research with me provided I did not reveal his identity at this time.

His research confirmed the outlook that other researchers have provided about the aftermarket. During the recent AAPEX show in Las Vegas, Polk Research and NPD both offered a positive outlook for the independent aftermarket, driven largely by the nation’s aging vehicle fleet.

But the data this analyst provided me went into more detail, including how sales have been trending from month to month. This type of information is useful to businesses trying to decide how much to invest in tool purchases, training, marketing and personnel.

A big question in the automotive aftermarket is how much longer people will keep holding onto their cars. Some people think that given how long they’ve held on to date – 11-plus years – that they’re less inclined to shell out for big repairs. This is why the month-to-month sales from existing garages is an important barometer. And to date, the indications are still trending positive.

When a shop owner or a technician is invited to participate in a survey, oftentimes he or she is offered the opportunity to see the results of the survey. These reports generally cost hundreds of dollars, so getting the chance to see the results for free is a great opportunity.

One thing that was obvious from my conversation with this analyst was how challenging the aftermarket has become. Given the challenges aftermarket professionals face, they need all the information they can get about their industry.

The good news is there is more research being done on the aftermarket as it has become a bigger industry. Shop owners and technicians who are invited to participate in business surveys should see this as an opportunity to learn more about their business.