Every industry under the sun has an association that represents them. It’s tough enough owning and running your own business, and it’s even harder to do it all alone and having to figure everything out by yourself. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Associations can be a very cost-effective way of networking with other, non-competing, repair shops and the information you learn from participating is truly invaluable.
There are quite a few associations that serve the auto repair industry, and we will go over them all here. There are national groups with local chapters, and there are also local associations that we won’t cover in this article.
Let’s start with the biggest one first.
The Automotive Service Association’s (ASA) dates back to May 1951 and is a not-for-profit trade association headquartered in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area. ASA boasts a membership of thousands of members nationwide and around the world. ASA members agree to adhere to the association’s Code of Ethics. Members perform mechanical, auto body, and transmission repairs and can be identified by the red, white, and blue ASA sign.
ASA’s pitch to future members like yourself is that you get access to training, networking, and a lobbyist fighting for the industry on Capitol Hill by being a member. At first, that may not seem like something that will impact you, but you will learn as your shop progresses just how much legislation is written that could affect your shop every year. Having a lobbyist who represents an entire industry is an asset to the industry.
ASA offers many communication resources. For example, they have an online magazine, AutoInc.org, that offers daily industry updates affecting the mechanical and collision fields, along with technical tips, legislative updates, and a library of multimedia offerings. ASA also offers e-newsletters, social media content, and online tools to keep shop owners and technicians up to date on industry trends.
Automotive Management Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to providing industry-recognized professional management certificates and designations to the automotive industry’s service and collision repair segments. AMI offers industry training providers accreditation for live instructor-led courses and online courses through the AMi Learning Management System. The organization manages the industry’s respected “Accredited Automotive Manager” (AAM) professional designation and has introduced new certificates and designations in Office Management and Master-level Accredited Automotive Manager.
Who should join AMI?
Ami is not so much “membership-based” as it is a designation for completing coursework towards an AMI certification. AMI offers courses in Automotive repair management, office management sales and marketing, and cash flow management. AMI offers courses in all automotive disciplines, including collision repair. AMI coursework is geared towards technicians who want to become management or management who desire to become owners.
Here are a few niche-specific associations worth considering depending on the type of repair shop and service work you perform. There is some benefit to joining multiple associations, including ones that serve a very narrow niche, such as tires or oil changes. Here are a few of the larger Niche associations:
Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA)
The Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA) is a nonprofit trade organization representing the convenient automotive service industry. Founded in 1987 and headquartered in Richardson, Texas, the AOCA is dedicated to enhancing the competency of fast lube owners, educating the public about the benefits of preventive automotive maintenance, and maintaining a favorable business environment for the industry. For more about AOCA, visit www.aoca.org.
Tire Industry Association (TIA)
Tire Industry Association (TIA) is an international association representing all tire industry segments, including those that manufacture, repair, recycle, sell, service, use new or retreaded tires, and those suppliers or individuals who furnish equipment, material, or services to the industry. TIA was formed by the July 2002 merger of the International Tire & Rubber Association (ITRA) and the Tire Association of North America (TANA). The association’s main office is in Bowie, Maryland, and has over 6,000 current members. For more information about TIA, visit www.tireindustry.org.
The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA)
The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA) is an international trade association for the professional automatic transmission repair industry. Located in Oxnard, CA, ATRA has over 2,000 members worldwide. Our membership consists of more than 2,000 repair specialists, students, schools, and suppliers, all supporting the training, research, and improvements for transmission repair. For more information about ATRA, visit www.atra.com.
State Level Associations
The above list covered national organizations, but each state and some multi-state regions have associations that you can join to network with shop owners on a local level. Our recommendation is to enter at least one association at the state level.
The Automotive Management Network website has a directory which includes over 50 trade associations and programs for owners of automotive service industry businesses including independent auto repair shops and garages, tire dealers, and service stations at the local, state and national level. https://www.automotivemanagementnetwork.com/automotive-service-association/