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Is it Parts and Service or Parts vs. Service?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

One of the most symbiotic relationships in your dealership is the one between your parts and service department. The cooperation between these groups is crucial and communication is key for the two to work effectively to service your customers. Yet there are still times where it seems like the parts and service departments are more in a battle against one another. We’re going to look at some things each department can do to work together rather than against one another.

The Service Department
Undoubtedly there are members of the service department both technicians and support staff that have had something negative to say about parts. Those might include “I can’t believe they got that wrong I told them exactly what I needed.” Or “I gave them that quote 2 days ago why can’t they get it back to me.” There are a couple things to keep in mind when it comes to these negative comments, one it makes the entire dealership look bad, two maybe there is a root cause that contributed to the issue. Here’s one key thing when dealing with your parts department, information is king! We all know by now that the single best thing you can provide is Model and Serial number of the lift you are working on, but there is more to it than that. Are you working on the mast, a cylinder in the mast, an attachment, or the engine? If so did your technician get the information not only off the unit that they are servicing but also the information off the corresponding piece they are working on? Mast numbers and cylinder numbers are increasingly important to make sure that the proper parts are located, some brands don’t manufacture their own masts so getting these numbers are crucial to getting the right part. In the case of attachments most manufactures note that an attachment is on the unit but parts and service support come from the manufacture of the attachment not the manufacture of the lift truck. The more information you provide to your parts department the more accurate they can be. From the service management side are you training your technicians to capture this information? Do your technicians have to go back and get this information in order to get the right part? Training the technicians to get the right information the first time will be key to not only getting the right parts but also to better serve your customer. In regards to quoting jobs a lot of the same things apply as above communication and information is king. Keep in mind though just as your technicians can not be masters of every brand of lift out there your parts department has its strength and weaknesses as well. If you’re working on competitive equipment it may be tougher for your parts department to get the information they need from their sources. Also establish an expectation for quoting, your service and parts manger should come together and agree on a reasonable time frame on quoting parts for service jobs, one suggestion might be one fixed time for equipment you represent and another time frame on competitive equipment.

The Parts Department Just as above there are also some negative grumblings about the service department that come from parts personnel. Just as above it creates a negative view not only inside but also outside of the organization. There are a couple things that parts needs to keep in mind, one your service department is your best customer, they are also your most captive customer. The other thing is, above all have some empathy. It is easy in parts to forget that the technicians that are calling in or in front of them at the counter are also the ones that are in front of the customer more than anyone. They are really the first line of defense for the dealership and see and get more grief at times especially when something goes wrong. So how can parts help the service department and foster a positive relationship. First off be transparent, if the technician you are working with doesn’t provide you the info you need make sure to ask for it. Make sure that when you’re pulling parts either for a job or for van replenishment that all those parts are marked with part numbers, this will make billing easier. Help the technician communicate info to the customer, this is especially crucial when it comes to recovery costs like freight. Make sure that you communicate to the technician what the options are to bring parts in and how much those options will cost. Don’t hesitate to offer add on parts for the technician, if they are ordering brake shoes as about associated parts like spring kits, wheel cylinders, and seals.Parts can also help in the training process for new and senior technicians by explaining, not telling, why certain pieces of information are so important.

Management Everything above has been looked at mostly from a front line view, technicians and parts counter people. Management first and foremost has to set the standard for cooperation and understanding. If your parts and service managers are at odds then chances are the departments overall are going to be at odds. It is important for parts and service managers to work together to build a strong aftermarket effort for the dealership. First find some common ground, Parts gets about $.25 per dollar of labor billed which is great for the dealership and the parts revenue and profit number. For service having a parts department means that management of inventory and tracking down of parts is handled for you keep your technicians out there doing what they do best. Both Parts and Service Management should understand how important inventory on the vans is and how crucial billing out parts accurately is key to making sure items get returned to the technicians and keeping track of the inventory. Most importantly work together, it’s easy to remember you’re a profit center but a little give and take should be common place. Service will screw up but Parts will also screw up, work together to solve issues and when issues do come up don’t just point the finger at one another. Remember that Parts and Service Rework affect your dealership while you might be recovering your revenue you’re really just billing yourself.

It’s easy for both parts and service to forget that you’re working together to service your customer better. It’s important to keep in mind that attitude on both sides will make a big difference, technicians and counter people should not berate each other, and management should step in when big issues between personnel occur. Fostering that great relationship starts at the top your management needs to be the one championing the relationship between the two departments. Your goal should be to have the best dealership, not just the best Parts Department or Service Department.

Contact Curtis Clark of Superior Tire & Rubber Corp. at 800/289-1456 Ext. 100 or cclark@superiortire.com.

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