Friday, 22 August 2014 17:29

ASA-AZ Serves a Big Geographic Area with Diverse Interests

The sixth largest geographic state in the nation is home to over 6.5 million citizens and over 6.8 million registered vehicles. With a major population and such busy roadways, it is no surprise that there is an overwhelming number of collision and mechanical repair facilities scattered throughout the state, and all those independent businesses need a collective voice. That’s where the Automotive Service Association of Arizona (ASA-AZ) comes in!

Incorporated in 1976, ASA-AZ was founded on the concept of establishing collaborative efforts amongst automotive service professionals from all across AZ. As a state affiliate, the association shares the same mission as ASA-National which is “advancing professionalism and excellence in the automotive repair industry through education, representation and member services.”

With 169 members in the 113,909 square mile area, ASA-AZ consists of seven chapters: Prescott, Mohave, Tucson, Phoenix, Verde Valley, Yuma and the Grand Canyon Chapter “which incorporated all businesses that are not in close proximity to any of the other chapters,” explains Luz Rubio, Executive Director of ASA-AZ. “Each chapter provides local chapter meetings and outreach to its members. Some chapters meet monthly, and others not as often. These meetings allow our members to exchange ideas, discuss challenges and identify solutions, thus elevating the professionalism of the industry.

Rubio assumed the role of ASA-AZ’s Executive Director in 2002 while the association was in the process of merging with the Arizona Automotive Trade Organizations, an association comprised of service station dealers, convenience stores and repair facilities. When the Arizona Collision Craftsman’s Association experienced some membership fallout in 2004 and found that they were unable to sustain their operations through their volunteer force, they also merged with the formerly all mechanical ASA-AZ, leading to the creation of the association’s collision division.

As a registered lobbyist, Rubio monitors legislation that may have an impact on the automotive industry. When action is required on a legislative bill that may have a negative effect, members of ASA-AZ receive alerts requiring that they contact their legislators to share their views, and the association works with other small business organizations to strengthen their position. In 2012, ASA-AZ successfully defeated a bill that would have forced body shops to absorb the cost associated with vehicle storage in many situations.

Though ASA-AZ is not currently working on any legislation, Rubio plans to continue monitoring introduced legislation in January when the new session begins. She notes “ASA supports legislation that protects the consumer’s rights in the full repair process of their vehicle, both mechanical and collision related.” ASA-AZ monitors national legislation as well, and Rubio shares their stance on several current matters: “Though the Right to Repair no longer seems to be in the forefront for mechanical repairers, we continue to work with NASTF to ensure that information for repairing vehicles is available. [Concerning PartsTrader and other insurer-mandated parts procurement systems], ASA-AZ believes that the insurance companies should stay in the business of insurance and leave all aspects of the repair process to collision repair professionals.”

In addition to providing legislative representation, ASA-AZ members receive discounts from various industry vendors, and the association also provides members with opportunities  to interact with their peers in both educational and purely social situations. Some of the association’s current goals include providing ongoing activities for their membership to network and encourage all chapters to conduct monthly activities. Rubio says, “what would an association be without any fun? Our annual convention – Sunrise – offers everything: education, resources and lots of fun. Next year’s event is already on the calendar for June 19-21 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino. We are looking to bring in a great line-up of speakers; there will be lots of learning, but also time for fun!”

At the State Office, Rubio collaborates with ASA-AZ’s Board of Directors to coordinate the technical, collision and management training that the association offers to their membership. She says, “we identify topics that our members need and host out-of-state speakers that will bring them the information that they need to improve their business, including topics such as ‘Survival Skills for the Service Advisor’ for our mechanical shops and ‘Profitability to Preserve Survivability’ for our collision members.”

In addition to reviewing and upgrading their website, one of ASA-AZ’s current projects entails forming Automotive Roundtables for their various chapters. Rubio states, “these are forums that allow business owners with single operations to discuss the day-to-day challenges and identify solutions.”

Unfortunately, recent increases in the number of multi-shop operations in the mechanical industry and consolidators buying out collision repair shops has reduced the number of independent automotive businesses in AZ, creating a challenge for ASA-AZ to maintain operations. Another concern Rubio has noticed on both sides of the industry is “the lack of qualified young technicians. The current workforce is getting older, and there are not enough upcoming technicians in the field to replace those who will be retiring. We have not yet addressed this issue, but we have begun to discuss it as an association.”

As an affiliate of the national association, ASA-AZ offers both ASA-National and state only benefits to their members, including partnering with various vendors, or associate members, to provide the utmost customer service to members. “We encourage our associate members to attend the local chapter meetings and build relationships with the local shop owners, managers and technicians,” Rubio says. “It’s a business of relationships, and the sales will come when the need arises. We have a strong support network of vendors in this industry that offer great products and services, and we want to make sure that they too are educated and understand the industry.”

Through training, representation and member benefits, ASA-AZ continually seeks ways to improve their communication and outreach to member shops, but Rubio encourages “non-member shops to join us and learn what ASA is about. We are a network of like-minded independent owners who are looking for ways to provide outstanding customer service to the motoring public.”

PO Box 81517
Phoenix, AZ 85069

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