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Official publication of the Victorian and Tasmanian Automobile Chambers of Commerce Level 7, 464 St Kilda Road, Melbourne 3004 P: 03 9829 1111 F: 03 9867 3159 ABN 63 009 478 209 President: J Buskes Executive Director: DA Purchase OAM
10 NEW PRESIDENT
34 PARTS WASHING
Introducing VACC’s 54th President, John Buskes
Ultrasonic cleaning gear will pay for itself and more
12 PLATE THEFT
Protecting service station owners from drive-offs
All the latest on bodyshop fillers and adhesives
14 CREAM RISES Getting the right apprentice and keeping them certainly pays off
44 LEGEND LIVES ON How performance legend, Carol Shelby’s succession plan works
18 R134A AND YOU Putting the right price on greenhouse gases
48 TECHNICAL Timing belts, air filters, Dr Rick and more...
20 GREAT PARTNERS Peter Anderson on ACCI’s special relationship with VACC
22 SOCIAL MEDIA VACC adheres to its obligations under National Privacy Principles legislation. Information on products and services contained in the editorial and advertising pages of this magazine does not imply the endorsement of any product or service by VACC. Australian Automotive is copyright and no part may be reproduced without the written permission of VACC. Advertisers and advertising agencies lodging material for publication in Australian Automotive indemnify the VACC, its directors, Board, employees, members, and its agents against all claims and any other liability whatsoever wholly or partially arising from the publication of the material, and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, indemnify each of them in relation to defamation, libel, slander of title, infringement of copyright, infringement of trademarks or names of publication titles, unfair competition, breach of trade practices or fair trading legislation, violation of rights of privacy or conﬁdential information or licences or royalty rights or other intellectual property rights, and warrant that the material complies with all relevant laws and regulations. Advertising accepted for publication in Australian Automotive is subject to the conditions set out in the Australian Automotive rate card, available from email@example.com
How your business can profit from Facebook, Twitter, etc
24 PARTS LOSS Aftermarket loses big time after BHP decision on utes/SUVs
26 IN THE BIG CHAIR
54 REVIEWS KIA Sorento Si, Infiniti M37, Hyundai i30 SR Turbo, Mitsubishi ASX 4WD Aspire, KTM 690 Duke
66 SERVICE DIRECTORY Goods and services at your fingertips
Dr Thomas Aubel, VP Mobility TÜV Rheinland
Crossword, quiz, wordfind, Taillight Teaser, Bollocks, Horace Kope, Derek’s Dipstick
30 MOTOR SHOW
74 MYTHICAL MOTORS
AIMS delivers most meaningful audience ever to exhibitors
Getting a handle on that social media thingy...
44 DECEMBER 2012
Will Tuck Former Paint and Panel editor, Will Tuck, this issue, investigates the many uses of bonding materials, ﬁllers and adhesives. Like most areas of the automotive world, these humble products have come a long way. Check out how far, and what they can do for your bodyshop business, by turning to page 38. Tuck has 50 years’ journalistic experience, during which time he has edited several professional and trade magazines.
The numbers have it! THEY SAY THAT there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Even so, the statistics thrown up by the recent Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) in Sydney are very enlightening indeed.
cent of those surveyed said that attending the Motor Show was “very important or somewhat important” when deciding on what vehicle to purchase (another big tick).
Motor Show Director, Russ Tyrie, is on the record as saying that the attendance in Sydney was less than expected. But that’s where numbers can be misleading or, at the very least, need to be investigated before awarding them their true worth.
Those are the best ﬁgures ever. So, what does that say?
Tyrie’s job, and the job of the Show’s jointorganisers, VACC (Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce) and FCAI (Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries), is to deliver an appropriate audience to exhibitors, one that rewards their investment. In other words, the very existence of AIMS is to provide a venue and forum for intending vehicle purchasers to inform themselves in the best possible way about their next vehicle purchase. And that’s where AIMS in Sydney really delivered the goods. Participating exhibitors invest in the Show because they want to sell vehicles and, while an audience of 200,000 (and the revenue derived from those ticket sales) would be terriﬁc for Show organisers, what car companies are concerned about is making the right connection with the right people so they can sell vehicles to them in the future. In order to ﬁnd out if ‘the right people’ are attending the Show, a lot of money is invested in research. This year, independent specialist, Milicante Consulting, was engaged to ﬁnd out. This is what they had to say: 31.7 per cent of attendees surveyed said they intended to purchase a vehicle shortly (tick), and that a whopping 59.7 per
It says that the internet is great for fact checking, cross-referencing, colour coordinating, and for shopping around. But the internet can’t do everything. An intending buyer can’t touch and feel a car’s ﬁne leather (or otherwise) upholstery, they can’t sit in a cyber car and check it out for headroom (or whether the family dalmatian will be comfortably accommodated in the back), and a buyer can’t really judge their full emotional attachment to a vehicle on a two-dimensional screen: they need to experience the car for real. Sure, the internet has made inroads on what Motor Shows can provide, but nothing, absolutely nothing, can ever substitute for the real thing. And, anyhow, AIMS this year demonstrated that exhibitors are innovating like never before in a bid to connect with intending vehicle purchasers through clever technology and greater interactivity. The numbers don’t lie: AIMS is a win/ win for exhibitors and showgoers alike. Roll on AIMS 2013 in Melbourne.
Paul Tuzson, Australia’s foremost automotive technical journalist, writes for several leading car magazines, including Unique Cars and Street Machine. This issue, Tuzson investigates the mysterious world of ultrasonic cleaning. If this sounds like the plot of a new sci-ﬁ movie you had better turn to page 34 to ﬁnd out all about this clever and time saving technology for cleaning automotive parts.
Murray Collins Following the completion of his postgraduate Broadcast Journalism degree in Darlington, UK in 1994, Murray Collins spent six years working as a BBC local radio reporter. After a spell freelancing, Collins joined BSkyB Sky News Radio in 2001, producing and presenting national bulletins. In 2006, he moved to Melbourne and joined VACC in 2007. On page 10 he introduces VACC’s 54th President.
Rod Chapman R R Chapman has previously Rod sserved as News Editor of A Australian Motorcycle News aand was Editor of British m monthly, Motorcycle Sport & L Leisure . He currently works f a number b off Australia’s A for best motorcycling titles, including Motorcycle Trader, as a freelance journalist. This issue, he experiences the many qualities of the KTM 690 Duke (page 62).
Australian Automotive Managing Editor: David Dowsey 03 9829 1247 firstname.lastname@example.org Design & Layout: Gavin van Langenberg, Faith Perrett Database & Distribution: Mary Gouvas Contributors: Peter Anderson, Rick Besserdin, Dr Richard Creighton-Smythe (retired), Nick Dalziel, Darren House, David Mitchem, Horace Kope, Dr Rick, Damien Slavin, Will Tuck, Steve Tye Din
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New VACC President WORDS Murray Collins JOHN BUSKES HAS a reputation for being energetic and driven. A recipient of the Sword of Honour, following two years of ofﬁcer training with reservists 2 Commando Company (Coy), Buskes holds the rank of Lieutenant and Platoon commander. For the next two years, Buskes will hold another important title: President of VACC. Buskes, 54, from Ringwood, owns three separate motorcycle dealerships and ﬁrst joined VACC in 1988. He is Chairman of the Motorcycle Industry Division (MID), Chairman of the Australian Motorcycle Industry Association, a member of the VACC Board of Management and Executive Board and, for the past two years, was the Senior Vice President. On 28 November 2012, Buskes was elected unopposed as the 54th VACC President at the Annual General Meeting. He received the Presidential
pin from now Immediate Past President, Tony La Rosa. “I would like to acknowledge the contribution made by Tony La Rosa as VACC President. Tony has acted with dignity and honour and, on behalf of VACC’s 5,300 members, I sincerely thank him for his efforts,” Buskes said. “I will strive to do my very best and to act fairly in the interests of all members. I am sure there will be challenges along the way, but I am conﬁdent that with the support of the Executive Board, the Board of Management and the Executive Director, VACC will continue to provide support and services to assist members,” said Buskes. A keen triathlete, Buskes’ energetic reputation stems from his membership of the Commando Association, following a 12-year stint as a reservist. He has acquired a number of ﬁeld skills, which may or may not prove useful during his two-year term
as VACC President, including qualiﬁcations in shallow water diving, demolitions, free-fall parachuting and roping and rappelling. 2 Commando Coy’s motto is ‘strike swiftly’! Buskes is also a proud motorcyclist and, through VACC’s MID, has promoted motorcycle and scooter safety and awareness, in particular, by attending the 2010 Road Safety Committee Parliamentary Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety in Victoria and VACC’s annual Scooter Rally. Following the ﬁrst contested election for the position of Executive Director in VACC’s 94-year history, Buskes says his ﬁrst priority is to re-establish harmony among the membership. “There are things we have learnt from the recent election process and I am conﬁdent we will move on and do what we are here to do, namely, assist members. The next two years will be interesting and also exciting,
John Buskes as VACC celebrates its 95th anniversary and hosts the Australian International Motor Show in Melbourne,” Buskes said. Buskes spent his formative years attending Aquinas College, Ringwood, and completed Certiﬁcates of Technology in both Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture at RMIT and Footscray Institute of Technology. He has been married to Helen for 32 years and they have two adult children, Laura and Heather.
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Numberplate theft a major concern for service station owners A NSW POLICE initiative to deter vehicle theft should also be adopted by all states and territories in a bid to deter petrol station drive-offs, according to VACC Executive Director, David Purchase. Thieves stealing fuel, before driving away, is a signiﬁcant crime in this country. Security camera footage is assisting police to detect and capture offenders, but only when the vehicles they are driving are not stolen or have stolen numberplates ﬁtted. Criminals that prey on service station owners and steal their products should be dealt with the
full force of the law, Purchase told Australian Automotive. “Service station owners are vulnerable to this type of crime. The extended trading hours that service station owners operate within means that thieves can make use of the cover of darkness and speed away with their loot before Police have time to arrive. It is well known that using false numberplates is a particularly effective way for these thieves to go about their activities without detection. So, any initiative that may deter the theft of numberplates is very welcome.” North Sydney police and SOS volunteers combined to provide valuable numberplate security for Mosman motorists at the Village Green’s carpark recently. Police and SOS personnel ﬁtted anti-theft screws to local vehicles to help eliminate plate thefts in the area. It is one of several such activities designed to
David Purchase prevent vehicle crime in NSW. Crime Prevention Ofﬁcer, Constable Kieran Meredith, said thieves were taking numberplates to rebadge their vehicles, using them to avoid tolls, petrol station fuel charges, speeding ﬁnes and red light cameras and to camouﬂage their vehicles, which may be used in more serious crimes. “The simple act of ﬁtting one-way screws helps to deter thieves,” Constable Meredith said.
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Cream rises to the top WORDS & IMAGES Steve Tye Din CUSTOMISING A KEYLESS entry system, measuring voltages and interpreting electrical symbols was all part of the intense daylong competition to judge the top regional Toyota apprentice. Fourth year VACC Auto Apprenticeships apprentice, Guo-Jie Lay, was recently awarded with this honour. At the recently held competition, the training centre of Toyota Motor Corporation Australia in Melbourne was the venue where Lay competed against ﬁve other regional apprentices who had qualiﬁed for the event. Lay, who currently works at Nunawading Toyota in Melbourne, said, “I was very proud of myself when I found out that I had won this award. I have proved to myself that I have become a great diagnostic technician. I was up against some other very good apprentices. It was a tough competition.”
In order to qualify for the ﬁnal event, competitors had to undertake a series of theoretical exams throughout the year. The 20 highest scoring apprentices then had to write an essay on themselves that included their workshop experiences, skills and techniques. The top ﬁve apprentices were then selected from this category.
ohms law calculations was also a task on the circuit board.
The competition ﬁnal was broken into three sections and conducted and judged by Toyota technical training instructors. The ﬁrst section required the apprentices to use the dedicated Toyota diagnostic computer to ﬁnd answers to technical questions on various models.
The next task was to program the driver’s side door so it would unlock independently from the other doors with the keyless entry system.
The third section was the practical task where a hybrid Toyota Camry was brought in with several faults in the keyless entry and start system. Competitors had to diagnose and ﬁx the door locking system and the start system of the vehicle.
The second section was an electrical question and answer test. The task of identifying electrical and electronic symbols, measuring voltages, resistances and currents with a multimeter on an electrical circuit board was carried out. Conducting electrical measurement values using
“Guo-Jie winning this award has encouraged our other apprentices in the workshop to have a go and assist in their own personal development in the trade,” said Nunawading Toyota Service Manager, Vince Pisa. “He welcomes challenge and has a thirst for knowledge. No job is too difﬁcult because he wants to learn. He ﬁts in well with the team and management and is a role model employee at Nunawading Toyota.”
VACC Auto Apprenticeships Field Manager, Steve Tye Din commented, “Guo-Jie is a wonderful apprentice to have. He has already won awards for his TAFE Schooling and this award adds to his impressive list. There is no doubt he has a long future ahead of him at Nunawading Toyota and in the automotive industry in whatever he aspires to do.” An engraved winning medallion, an overnight stay at a ﬁve star luxury hotel, a $50 prepaid Visa credit card and a two-day study tour of the Melbourne facilities of Toyota Motor Corporation were the prizes that Lay won. See autoapprenticeships.com.au
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MATQ opens Sir Jack Brabham Queensland Automotive Centre of Excellence WORDS Ian Porter ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S greatest living treasures, Sir Jack Brabham, recently opened the $10 million training centre and head ofﬁce of the Motor Trades Association of Queensland (MTAQ). Ofﬁcially dubbed the Sir Jack Brabham Queensland
Automotive Centre of Excellence, the new facility will provide key educational resources for apprentices and trainees in the automotive trade. “Naming the centre in Sir Jack’s honor guarantees that the 2,000 students training at the facility each year will be inspired to achieve great things in the automotive industry,” said Steve Ghost, the Managing Director of the MTA Institute of Technology.
The MTAIT is the state’s largest private provider of training for automotive students. Ghost pointed out that, in addition to being a triple F1 world champion (1959, 1960 and 1966), Sir Jack was the ﬁrst person to win a Formula One race in a car bearing his own name. He didn’t mention that the new training facilities are probably better ﬁtted out than the
workshop Sir Jack and his partner Ron Tauranac used to produce a string of Formula Junior, Formula Three and Formula One cars that beat the world. The centre has 28 mechanical and vehicle body repair bays, ﬁve training rooms with the latest IT and communications technology and the most modern equipment for crash repair, spray booths and body repair systems. It is the only centre in southeast Queensland where students can train in automotive painting and panel beating. MTAQ General Manager, Kellie Dewar, said the new training operations would play a part in attracting leading students to the automotive trades. “As an industry, we know that it is up to us to attract and retain the next generation of automotive specialists.”
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Putting a price on synthetic greenhouse gases DID YOU KNOW that the most common refrigerant used in automotive air conditioning systems, hydroďŹ‚uorocarbon R134a, is a synthetic greenhouse gas and has a global warming potential 1,300 times greater than carbon dioxide?
equivalent carbon price. These reasons include global demand and scarcity of raw materials.
Since the introduction of the Australian Governmentâ€™s Clean Energy Future Plan on 1 July 2012, synthetic greenhouse gases, which include hydroďŹ‚uorocarbons (HFCs) such as R134a, have attracted an equivalent carbon price levy, which is paid by the importer. The levy is based on the carbon price multiplied by the global warming potential for each of these gases relative to carbon dioxide.
qGVSUIFSJODFOUJWFGPSDBS manufacturers and refrigerant technicians to switch to alternative gases which have a lower global warming potential, provided this is safe to do so and meets the manufacturersâ€™ requirements.
Since 1 July 2012, purchasers of synthetic greenhouse gases (or those purchasing equipment with synthetic greenhouse gases in them) may notice an increase in cost for these products. Some synthetic greenhouse gases such as refrigerants have increased in recent times for reasons other than the introduction of the
Why put a price on synthetic greenhouse gases? Putting a price on synthetic greenhouse gases provides:
qGVSUIFSJODFOUJWFGPSDBSPXOFST to regularly service existing equipment to reduce leakage of gas and increase recycling rates for synthetic greenhouse gases. Replacement gases The global automotive industry has already indicated that it intends to replace R134a as its preferred air conditioning platform. This change has been driven by the European F-Gas rules where, from 2011, new automotive platforms must use a refrigerant with a global warming potential lower than 150.
The industry considers carbon dioxide and R1234yf, a new low global warming potential HFC, as the most likely replacement. Your legal responsibilities Equipment manufacturers, gas suppliers, automotive refrigeration engineers and technicians are a key source of advice to customers on equipment and refrigerants and will need to be mindful of obligations they may have to provide accurate advice on safety implications, particularly if substitution with a different refrigerant is being contemplated. All businesses and technicians must comply with regulatory requirements, including: qSFGSJHFSBOUIBOEMJOHMJDFODF and refrigerant trading authorisation conditions qDPEFTPGQSBDUJDF TVDIBT the Australian Automotive Code of Practice for the Control of Refrigerant Gases during Manufacture, Installation, Servicing or Decommissioning of Motor Vehicle Air Conditioners)
qXPSLIFBMUIBOE safety legislation qDPNQFUJUJPOBOE consumer legislation. If you are considering replacing refrigerant (for example replacing R134a with a hydrocarbon), you must check the relevant state and territory legislation to ďŹ nd out if the use of the replacement gas is permitted and safe. It is also important to consider additional matters such as warranty or insurance implications. Although only importers of synthetic greenhouse gases and importers of equipment containing these gases will pay the equivalent carbon levy, your supplier may pass the cost on to you. You need to decide how or if you pass it on to your customers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has provided guidance for businesses on determining carbon price claims. Go to accc.gov.au and click on â€˜Carbon price claims: business and consumer guidanceâ€™ in the Hot Topics section. Go to environment.gov.au/ equivalentcarbonprice
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Successful ACCI partnerships:
The VACC Case Example WORDS Peter Anderson
ew businesses succeed by going it alone. Business people know that successful operations involve strategic partnerships. Similarly with business organisations. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is the nation’s peak council of business organisations, with members drawn from Chambers of Commerce and also industry speciﬁc bodies. By afﬁliating with ACCI, a strategic partnership is created. Combining each organisation’s strength forms a formidable business voice. Membership between Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and ACCI is a good example of how strategic partnerships add value and beneﬁt business, not just business organisations. VACC, with its intimate knowledge of the retail motor industry, plays a leadership role in bringing small business issues, red tape concerns, apprenticeship and skill issues and industrial issues to the fore. Given many of these matters are regulated by the national government, afﬁliation with ACCI make it possible for VACC to get its interests heard in Canberra, not just Victoria. The strategic partnership also means that VACC gets a say on the big crosscutting economic issues of the day. These include tax reform, superannuation policy, wage setting, interest rates and competition policy. ACCI’s work in these areas ﬁlls gaps that industryspeciﬁc bodies ﬁnd hard to resource.
Small Business The need to champion small and medium businesses is VACC’s and ACCI’s lifeblood. Small business is the cornerstone of the economy and jobs. Respecting this is vital in the face of growing market inﬂuence from large corporates and cost pressure from governments and suppliers. VACC has worked with ACCI over the past two years in landmark ways that support national small business advocacy. For example, VACC used its seat around ACCI’s General Council to urge ACCI to commission independent work on the impact of a carbon tax on
energy intensive small businesses. ACCI did this because federal Treasury costed impacts on large trade exposed industries, but not small businesses. The result: uncontradicted independent research by global consultancy Castalia which showed, over time, a big hit on proﬁtability, given the ﬁne margins and lack of control over ﬁxed costs.
Business Leadership VACC is an industry leader, shaping not only the retail motor industry but also using its partnership with ACCI to advance the sector’s interests on whole of industry issues. Over the past decade, ACCI’s members have recognised VACC leaders on its General Council, Board and Policy Committees. Just last year, retired VACC manager Kevin Redfern was the ﬁrst industry association executive in Australia to receive ACCI’s Service Award, honouring exceptional achievement over 20 years. And VACC executive, Leyla Yilmaz, is currently deputy chairman of ACCI’s national Workplace Policy Committee – following the footsteps of former chairman, VACC President and ACCI board member Owen Brown.
Economic Stimulus When the global ﬁnancial crisis hit, VACC was out of the blocks working with ACCI to develop ways the government could stimulate the economy in the wake of declining conﬁdence. The result: a 30 per cent business investment allowance in new plant and equipment which provided a tax offset of $6 billion. It wasn’t everything we argued for, but the retail motor industry secured important activity from the tax break just when the outlook was bleakest.
Interest Rates Interest rate decisions by the Reserve Bank are often, even on their own admission, ‘judgment calls’. Twice in 2012 the central bank was persuaded to reduce rates when market economists didn’t expect it. Business advocacy helped make the difference. VACC’s involvement in ACCI’s survey work brought the Reserve Bank and federal Treasury real time information about trading conditions – well before ofﬁcial ABS data.
There are plenty of small businesses feeling the pinch from rough play by the banks. ACCI advocacy supported by organisations like VACC shaved more than $9 billion this year off overdrafts and borrowings by small and medium business. That’s helped the bottom line.
Red Tape Politicians say they’re concerned about red tape, but rarely do they direct public servants to decrease the load. When confronted, governments duck and weave and ask for real examples. With VACC’s support, this year ACCI took the step of going to the horse’s mouth – surveying 870 small and medium businesses about the red tape problem. The result: ﬁndings no government or ministry can contradict – on average ﬁve hours per week per business wasted just in compliance. Armed with this data, VACC is now able to use facts to strengthen the case for freeing up the retail motor industry from excessive red tape.
Health and Safety Nationally harmonised health and safety regulations are being proposed by the Australian government. These will directly affect employers and contractors in the retail motor industry. ACCI has the job of pushing-back against some of these new proposals, where they are costly or impractical for small business. VACC is the key driver of the retail motor industry’s input into ACCI on these matters. Without the ACCI-VACC partnership, the sector would not have a voice at the Safe Work Australia table where these decisions are ﬁrst made.
Wage and Labour Costs Every employer in the retail industry knows that proﬁt margins have been eroded by the ‘’cautious consumer’’ and soaring labour costs. VACC works with ACCI each year to keep wage rises ordered in the retail motor industry down. It’s tough work, because employer calls for moderation are opposed by unions and regrettably, often by governments. VACC has put facts on the table to Fair Work Australia and its seven-member wages panel. ACCI used that data in 2012
to successfully convince the tribunal that economic conditions were worse than previously predicted by the panelâ€™s experts. The result: while the rise was still too high, VACC and ACCI achieved a lower outcome which shaved $936 million off the employer payroll in 2012, compared to the cost of a ďŹ‚ow on from 2011.
Unfair Dismissal ACCI and VACC combined to take the case for changes to onerous unfair dismissal laws to the highest levels of government and the parliament. VACCâ€™s practical expertise is used by ACCI to lobby Ministers, shadow Ministers and parliamentarians. This has included extensive evidence of unfair cases being brought against small and medium employers in the retail motor industry â€“ evidence ACCIâ€™s Peter Anderson and VACCâ€™s Leyla Yilmaz jointly presented to Senate Committees of Inquiry.
Superannuation Labour on costs, like superannuation, are big costs for industry. It is ACCIâ€™s and VACCâ€™s job to do the heavy lifting against uneconomic proposals. When the Australian government lifted the nine per cent superannuation levy paid by employers to 12 per cent, ACCI and VACC
opposed the rise, and gave evidence to the parliament about the unfair impact on small and medium employers, who struggle to fund their own retirement. The result: the rises are being phased in over seven years â€“ not our preferred result, but a lot better than a three per cent payroll levy hitting labour costs and jobs in one year.
Training and Skills
â€œThe need to champion small and medium businesses is VACCâ€™s and ACCIâ€™s life bloodâ€?
With productivity down, it has been ACCIâ€™s job to ensure governments support the training effort by industry. VACCâ€™s commitment to industryspeciďŹ c training and apprenticeships is highly recognised by wider industry, and nationally. ACCI combined with VACC to ďŹ ght for the retail motor industry securing speciďŹ c structures to examine its skills needs, separate from the manufacturing sector. Again, VACCâ€™s persistence and ACCIâ€™s support, forced
authorities to change plans and give the retail motor industry a more independent voice. The beauty of ACCI afďŹ liation is that these outcomes donâ€™t threaten the independence of industry associations, because ACCIâ€™s members are associations like VACC, not speciďŹ c businesses. The business relationship remains very local, with VACC. Put simply, itâ€™s a strategic partnership that adds joint value, and works â€“ even in the difďŹ cult area of government and industrial tribunal advocacy.
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Social Debate Social media is the new marketing phenomenon. But does it actually work? WORDS Nick Dalziel
id you know that more than half of Australia’s population, that’s 11 million people, are now using Facebook? In fact, recently, Facebook attracted its billionth user from around the globe. So, what does this all mean for your business? Well, with such a large number of people using this one social media site, it represents a massive marketing opportunity, as businesses can expose their products, special offers, and brand, all on people’s computer screens without having to pay for the privilege. There are a variety of social media outlets available, although the two big players are Facebook and Twitter. Both of these are readily available for all kinds of businesses to use to their advantage. “It’s deﬁnitely not a fad,” says Sue Peden, Director of Thread Communications. Peden has worked in advertising for more than 25 years and believes people have been slow to appreciate social media in the marketing sphere. “For a long time a lot of marketers didn’t understand social media. But it needs to be embraced because it’s not going away.” That rings true for all businesses, including those in the automotive industry. Despite Mythical Motors’ Mick having a few doubts in an earlier issue, there are plenty of examples of automotive businesses building a successful internet proﬁle. Mick and Belinda Egan own Pit Lane Automotive in Frankston, Victoria and have found social media to be a key ingredient in gaining new business. In addition to normal repair work, Pit Lane carries out performance work, specialising in Fords. It’s here that social media has reaped its greatest beneﬁts. Pit Lane has a Facebook page and sponsors four different car forums, where enthusiasts interact with each other in online discussions. Facebook users publicly ‘Like’ products, potentially creating more exposure for a
particular brand, as their friends see the user’s interest and may be inclined to take a look. Once a page is liked, the business can interact with the user, notifying them of new products, special offers, or anything else it desires to tell them about.
do is respond to enquiries. We try to answer everything because, if we don’t reply to somebody, they might bad-mouth us. At the end of the day, I’m being paid to get the best results in tuning cars, not to stop and talk to people who may not be customers,” he said.
Belinda manages Pit Lane’s Facebook page, and endeavours to post things that get people talking.
Belinda agrees that the forums take up a lot of work, as people expect answers to emails or queries almost instantly.
“We had a South African (Falcon) GT here once and we uploaded a photo of the badge and had a competition to guess what sort of car it was,” Belinda told Australian Automotive.
“You have to go into it at the start with clear intentions of how you are going to control it.”
In this case, every time a user made a guess, all of their Facebook friends would see their comment on Pit Lane Automotive’s competition. Even though there were no prizes, Belinda said they had a number of guesses, so it greatly helped in exposing the Pit Lane brand. However, the couple has found their forum sponsorship to be more important to the business, with Mick suggesting it has been more effective than magazine advertising for the sort of work he carries out. “When it comes to performance work, the majority of new customers come from the forums,” Belinda said. “It’s worth it from the volume perspective.” Of course, social media is no cure-all to marketing issues. A number of variables must be weighed up. It must be remembered that while social media is generally free, or very cheap to use, it can take up a lot of time to use effectively, so there are still costs involved.
Close interaction with customers can also be costly, as many major corporations have discovered when marketing attempts have backﬁred. Recent high-proﬁle examples include Qantas, Coles, Channel 9 and Target. There was an incident recently with (a certain fast food chain), where the company wanted customers to use a hashtag on Twitter to reminisce about a great time they had at the restaurant. “Unfortunately, it got way out of control and people started using the hash tag to talk about hideous food experiences, animal cruelty and employees spoke of mistreatment,” Thread Communications’ Sue Peden said. “There are risks associated (with social media). But, in my opinion, if you have a really good product, a good brand, and you are doing the right thing, the risks should be fairly minimal,” she added. The Egans agree with this, stressing the importance of a good reputation. They had a minor mishap with a forum member who had a friend who wasn’t satisﬁed
On a typical workday, Mick Egan spends plenty of time responding to requests or giving quotes via the forums. “I’ll update the forums every hour or so. I am doing a lot of work for little reward. It’s almost to the point where I have to employ someone because there are days where all I
Mick and Belinda Egan
with a Pit Lane job and used a thread on a forum to publicly criticise the business. â€œWe had people jumping to our defence (on the forums), which is good,â€? Mick said. â€œMickâ€™s always been so active on the forums, before we became sponsors, so we have been lucky,â€? Belinda added. Itâ€™s difďŹ cult to mention social media without pausing to think about privacy. Belinda says Pit Lane hasnâ€™t had too much concern over this, but points to the fact that customers need to give consent if they want a photo of their car uploaded, such as the owner of the South African GT.
Performance shops such as Pit Lane Automotive can have a stigma with manufacturers and insurers, as well. Even if a customer has only visited Pit Lane for a service, a manufacturer or insurer who ďŹ nds a photo of that customerâ€™s car on Pit Laneâ€™s page may see it as grounds for raising a premium or voiding a warranty. However, in most cases, the responsibility lies with the consumer. â€œIt has taken consumers quite a while to cotton on to the fact that if they click â€˜Likeâ€™ on a business, they are opting in (to receive communication from that business),â€? Peden said.
A basic rundown of social media Facebook and Twitter are the two biggest social networking sites, with many businesses, big and small, using both with great success. There are some key differences, though. Facebook is a more elaborate site than Twitter, which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, Facebook allows individuals and organisations to post a broader range of content, such as photos, videos, and polls, as well as offering games and real-time chat. However,
Facebook is also more closed: people often interact only with those they know. Twitter is far more simplistic, restricting users to 140 characters in their status updates (â€˜tweetsâ€™). Twitter users tend to follow (subscribe to the posts of), and interact with, users they donâ€™t know, such as celebrities or companies, in addition to their friends. Twitter uses hashtags to identify messages on a speciďŹ c topic, which will be proceeded with a â€˜#â€™ symbol. A company may launch a particular hashtag for users to talk about, and it can then monitor what people say in
not your average workshop...
Overall, Belinda sees social media as a good thing, but stresses the importance of closely monitoring activity. If itâ€™s not controlled it can be bad, she said. Each business has a unique product, service, and customer base and, with this, each business can assess whether social media will work for them. Thread Communicationsâ€™ Sue Peden has some quick tips for those thinking of raising their online proďŹ le: â€œPosts need to be interesting, and frequent without being annoying, and you need to think through all of the possible ramiďŹ cations of a post in case something goes wrong.â€? Visit: threadcomms.com.au pitlaneautomotive.com relation to that topic. Retweets are also powerful tools on Twitter, as a user may see your message and then re-post it for all of their own followers to see. Thread Communicationsâ€™ Sue Peden sees this â€˜reachâ€™ as one of the main advantages of Facebook and Twitter. â€œIf consumers start talking about your product and your brand (online) itâ€™s often incredibly powerful.â€? The social media phenomenon is still in its early days, so itâ€™s difďŹ cult to tell whether these two big players will continue alongside one another, or, like VHS and Beta, one will end up on the proverbial scrapheap.
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