Friday, 25 January 2019 23:04
Featured in AUTOBODYNEWS
Toward the end of 2018, several industry professionals in New York City identified the need for a trade association dedicated to helping automotive repair businesses and professionals in the five boroughs.
Board member and founding member Paul Stern Jr. explained, “For a long time, we’ve seen a need and desire for community and education in this industry, but no one has really stepped up for the five boroughs. The creation of the New York City Auto Repair Association (NYCARA) comes from a place of wanting to help auto repairers run their businesses better, and when we ran it past some of the shops in the areas, we received overwhelmingly positive responses.”
While reception of NYCARA has been favorable, Stern knows that there’s a long road ahead.
“Over the next few months, our largest focus will be to create awareness of our existence and generate interest as we strive toward our mission of empowering and educating auto repair shops to run their businesses better,” he said. “Time is a big challenge as well for many professionals, and although people are interested, they’re also skeptical. The best thing we can do is prove ourselves by providing value to our members.”
NYCARA held its first interest meeting on Jan. 9. Although 40 industry professionals had reserved a spot to attend, fewer than half of them actually showed up at the meeting.
According to Stern, “The meeting was more lightly attended than we had anticipated, but that became a conversation and commentary on the state of affairs in NYC. The people who showed up are those who needed it the least and are not the group we need to be engaging, but that’s the problem—people are not being properly engaged, but we all agree that there is definitely a need.
“It’s going to be a challenge to encourage people to step outside the day-to-day struggles to improve their business and understand that they can only truly be competitive through education. There’s a lot of work to do, and NYCARA is evaluating the different strategies that we’ll need to employ to ensure success—not just for the association but also for the shops we hope to represent.”
NYCARA welcomes members from the collision and mechanical industries as well as dealerships. The group also encourages educators and students to join. Although manufacturers may advertise with the association, NYCARA will not be taking their endorsements or inviting them to join its membership.
NYCARA offers several levels of membership with various perks and competitive rates. Dues start at $100; Gold members pay $200. The group also offers students a discounted rate of $25 to encourage participation from the next generation of automotive repairers. All members will receive access to quarterly member meetings and educational seminars offered by the association. Training will be a vital benefit that NYCARA plans to offer its members.
“Vehicle technology is changing faster than ever, and it’s getting really complicated really fast,” Stern said. “This is a huge hurdle for everyone, especially collision shops. Vehicle autonomy and insurer pressure are other topics we plan to tackle. There’s just not enough industry-specific content available, and we want to create quality content for our events and try to help members improve their businesses.”
NYCARA has already lined up two educational opportunities for this spring. A cyber security expert will deliver a presentation on March 14, and NYCARA will host a marketing and customer engagement seminar with a representative from Constant Contact on April 10.
Stern has big dreams for NYCARA.
“As we grow, I hope to see our benefits crystallize for our membership base,” he said. “In the future, a trade show is a definite possibility; we’d like to create our own publication for members; and we’ll definitely be exploring legislative initiatives once we’re fully developed. We are working to line up legal and marketing professionals to work with our membership base as well.
“NYCARA also plans to develop relationships with local schools and work to connect shops with students. We’ve already been asked if we’ll expand beyond the five boroughs, and we intend to go as far as we can eventually. This industry is a little neglected, and it’s also changing really fast, but everyone we’ve talked to wants to be more engaged.
“It’s tough to develop a community in this industry, but that’s our real purpose: to develop a community of like-minded professionals and offer them the information and educational opportunities they need to be successful.”
For more information on NYCARA, visit nycara.org or call 917-522-5912.