With the arrival of 2014, the Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Minnesota (AASP-MN) recently took stock of its efforts during 2013 and declared the year a resounding success. The Association can claim significant accomplishments in each of its four main areas of work: legislative and regulatory advocacy, education and training, member savings and information and networking. As a result, AASP-MN was rewarded with membership growth of over 6.5% for the year, fueled by an impressive 94% retention of existing members.
AASP-MN started the year strong with 3 legislative victories: changing the point of imposition of sales tax on auto repair paint and materials from the wholesale to the retail level, changing the definition of a “high-value vehicle” for salvage title purposes from $5,000 to $9,000 and warding off a proposal to expand sales tax to automotive repair labor. In the regulatory arena, the Association filed a formal Complaint with the Minnesota Department of Commerce requesting administrative action to prevent State Farm from mandating the use of the PartsTrader parts procurement platform. The status of that complaint is still pending.
On the training front, during the course of the year over 540 industry members took advantage of AASP-MN sponsored educational programming that brought industry icons like Mike Anderson and Bob Cooper to Minnesota. A highlight was the 2013 Annual Meeting & Convention, which featured a day and a half of management and technical training, as well as quality networking opportunities. The year also included several workshops to keep members up-to-speed on new legal and regulatory requirements pertaining to health care reform and workplace safety.
The Association also rose to the challenge when it came to saving members money. It paid over $64,500 in rebates to members who participated in its uniform program with AmeriPride and over $17,500 in dividends to members who participated in its workers’ compensation program with Meadowbrook Insurance. New to AASP-MN’s insurance benefit offerings in 2013 was United Fire Group, who offers AASP-MN members enhanced business property/casualty coverage with up-front discounts and dividend opportunities. “The membership growth, in large part, can be attributed to the success of the Association’s insurance programs with CBIZ AIA, Meadowbrook Insurance and United Fire Group,” says Executive Director Judell Anderson. “These programs are specifically tailored to member needs and are extremely competitive in terms of coverage and price. Better yet, they are now set up so that members can access the programs through their local insurance agent.”
Not to be overlooked, AASP-MN’s Get to Know Your Neighborhood Auto Repair Pro™ campaign promoted the benefits of doing business with independently-owned shops on the radio and internet. And the Association’s scholarship program awarded $17,000 to students enrolled in NATEF-certified mechanical and collision repair programs throughout the state.
The Association’s efforts did not go unnoticed by its members, who also contributed to the increase in membership by recommending that non-members join AASP-MN. “The personal endorsement from an Association member is by far the most effective recruiting tool we have. A one-on-one conversation introducing AASP-MN and the value it provides goes a long way towards adding that prospect to our membership roster,” said Anderson.
“We are very proud of the work we do to improve the state’s automotive service industry and the success of our members,” said AASP-MN President, Dan Sjolseth. “We continually work to evaluate and improve upon the benefits and services that the Association delivers, and it is gratifying to have that work acknowledged through membership retention and growth. I’m confident that 2014 has great things in store for the Association and the members we serve,” added Sjolseth.