BrandSource Service Committee Sets 2nd-Year Agenda

The BrandSource Service Committee has mapped out an aggressive agenda for year two.

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Hard to believe but it’s already been one year since the BrandSource Service Committee made its formal debut at the 2019 Convention — and it’s been one heckuva ride.

Committee Chair Scott Bekins: Inventory management of parts remains a major pain point for servicers.

The mission statement set by AVB CEO Jim Ristow was clear: Ensure the profitability of the service operations of the 75 percent of all BrandSource members that provide them. “The challenges are real,” Ristow said, citing unsustainable billing rates, a tight labor market and increasingly complex appliances, “and BrandSource is proud to lead the way with real solutions.”

Indeed, much has been accomplished in the 12 short months that followed, beginning with a member survey to help map out a plan of action. Based on the nearly 3,000 responses, and the Committee pinpointed three immediate goals for the group: forge affiliations to aid training and recruiting; build partnerships with parts suppliers; and develop a how-to guide for effectively managing a service business.

In quick succession, the Committee began checking off the boxes. Within a matter of weeks, BrandSource had forged four new partnerships, including:

  • the Professional Service Association (PSA), with its vast repair library, peer-to-peer advice platform and discounted certification program;
  •  the United Appliance Servicers Association (UASA), the continent’s largest repair trade group, providing an extensive best-practices archive, training videos and webinars, and a servicer chat forum;
  • Reliable Parts, a major distributor of appliance parts offering exclusive terms for BrandSource members; and
  • Master Samurai Tech (MST), a leading online training academy with discounted rates for BrandSource members.

In addition, the Committee distributed a “Service Call Blueprint”— a handy six-step guide for creating a great customer experience — and developed the more comprehensive, 24-page BrandSource Service Playbook. The tactical guide, which was being finalized at press time, covers everything from tech retention, training and compensation, to parts inventory, fleet management and a calculator for setting competitive but profitable billing rates.

But despite all the accomplishments the Committee isn’t resting on its laurels. Challenges still remain as it enters its second year, and Bekins and his colleagues have their work cut out for them, he told YSN in a first-anniversary video interview. Among the priorities: Expanding the Service Playbook. “This was a great achievement, a compilation of best practices from manufacturers, independents and industry experts to make your service business profitable and more professional,” he said. “It’s a good start and we see that it’s going to grow.”

Bekins also cited several major pain points he hopes to address in the coming months, including warranty reimbursement rates. “I think a lot of the problems in our industry really start with getting equitable rates from manufacturers and extended service plan providers,” he observed.

Another area of focus is training. The plan is to provide what Bekins described as “a comprehensive roadmap” that independent servicers can follow to create their own training programs, using the resources that BrandSource provides.

Bekins’ fourth and perhaps grandest goal is to help develop a parts management program, which he considers critically important for the long-term success of the service industry. “Trying to stock all those parts and get a first-call complete number that’s reasonable is almost impossible for a dealer to do,” he argued. “And I think it’s going to get worse because we’re seeing more and more manufacturers coming to the United States with different products with unique parts that are not universal or interchangeable.”

“Today,” he continued, “everything is so specialized and changes so quickly that parts inventory is a huge burden. And frankly, it can’t be done at the level of an independent dealer. It just can’t be done. When we get to the point that manufacturers and parts distributors take on the role of parts management for the dealer — using analytics to stock them with the proper fast-moving parts and take back the parts that are no longer fast moving and manage that inventory for the independent servicer — that’s when we’ll really start to make a big difference in the profits for servicing companies.”

Highlights from the complete interview can be viewed here.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, mattress, furniture and CE dealers.