Guest column: Suppliers of auto body shops should care about the BAR, protect brands in CaliforniaBy on
Business Practices | Education | Legal
Editor’s note: Contributor Jack Molodanof will also be featured Nov. 6 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at SEMA as part of the Society of Collision Repair Specialists’ Repairer Driven Education series. He’ll be presenting “Protect Your Business From Fines and Disciplinary Actions by the CA Bureau of Automotive Repair,” and the course description notes that while it is designed for Californians — themselves not a small population, of course — “shops in other states may find some value attending to see what California is doing (and maybe coming to their state soon.)”
By Jack Molodanof
Vendors: Did you know that the California Bureau of Automotive Repair regulates how your products and services are sold to the customer?
Whether you provide equipment, services, etc., to the automotive repair industry in California, you should be aware of the important role the BAR plays with regard to your products and services and what steps you should take to protect and strengthen your brand. Here’s a Q&A for vendors, which Repairer Driven News has presented here both for vendors selling in California and for those in other states looking to follow California’s model.
Q. Why should automotive suppliers care about the BAR?
A. Although BAR does not directly regulate your products and services, they regulate how both are sold to the consumer.
In way of background, about a year and half ago, I was one of small handful of automotive industry representatives who were invited by the previous BAR leadership to review marketing and disclosure practices for providing certain preventative maintenance products and services.
For the first time, the BAR’s review and investigations went beyond the automotive repair dealer and began targeting automotive vendor services and equipment suppliers.
BAR ultimately decided not to pursue a new public awareness campaign. However, it made it very clear during its investigation that they will continue to regulate sales.
Q. How have these BAR investigations impacted automotive parts and supply vendors?
A. In California, it’s more important than ever that automotive suppliers, especially those involved with preventative maintenance services, properly train their automotive repair clients, how to sell their products and services in a manner which complies with the BAR laws and regulations.
Can you give an example?
For example, failing to properly communicate to the customer that the vendor service/products being recommended deviates from the vehicle manufacturer schedule could lead to potential BAR problems for the shop and in turn with the suppliers products and services.
Q. Why do vendors/jobbers need to provide BAR compliance guidance to automotive repair shops?
A. Think about it for a moment. The BAR regulates how your products and services are being sold through the automotive repair dealer. Not only is the repair shop potentially vulnerable if not done correctly, the supplier’s brand, identity, and the company reputation is at risk. Don’t you want to make sure that your services and products are being sold in an appropriate and BAR-compliant manner?
Automotive suppliers should take preventative measure to help provide guidance to their automotive repair clients and address potential BAR compliance issues regarding their products and services before they become a problem for the automotive repair dealer and ultimately you, the automotive supplier.
Q. What can vendors begin doing to ensure that they are protecting their Brand?
A. Many automotive suppliers do a very good job training service advisers and technicians about the value of their products and services. What is usually missing is the BAR compliance component, because it is not an area that suppliers are familiar with.
Along with current education and training, the supplier should also provide the automotive repair dealer with tailored compliance procedures/disclosure (specifically for the product or service) this will along go a long way to provide customer assurances and the automotive repair dealer with confidence that sales procedures are BAR compliant.
Tailored BAR-compliance education and training is a great benefit for both the consumer and the automotive repair shop. Vendors that are currently including such compliance training and education for their products and services not only have an edge on their competitors, but are also protecting their company brand and reputation.
Q. What should an automotive supplier specifically to do to protect itself?
A. Start developing and customizing tailored BAR compliant protocols and disclosures that would be included in your current training and education materials for automotive repair shops.
What I’ve found is when vendors include BAR guidance/compliance as part of sales (component) and educational training for their automotive repair clients, is that it not only helps protect the brand, it becomes a value-add and has allowed suppliers to stay ahead of their competition. It also provides a great benefit for automotive repair dealers shops who feel much more confident in selling that brand of product or service.
Jack Molodanof is president of Molodanof Government Relations, an attorney and a lobbyist who has been specializing in automotive legislative, administrative and regulatory law for the last 30 years. He is an considered an expert in California for the automotive repair industry and represents several of the largest statewide automotive repair associations including the California Autobody Association and the Automotive Service Councils of California. He also serves on the California Bureau of Automotive Repair Advisory Group, which provides input on BAR programs. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.