Find the Right Parts
The best shops don’t necessarily have the best technology or the savviest technicians and service advisors at their disposal—they simply have discovered the best processes that help them turn a profit, day in and day out, week after week, year after year. Great repairs alone do not a great shop make--efficiencies aren’t inherited or magically appear out of the oil-laden air. Great efficiencies are nuanced, practiced, perfected.
Parts ordering is no different. Whether ordering parts online or on the phone, learning how to work with your SMS and/or parts ordering system will help streamline every repair order, help provide the best service to your customers and enhance your ability to organize and prioritize your workday (and workflow).
Be sure to stock what you need, always, especially for regular customers or common repairs or make/model components; if your shop specializes in late-model Euros, for example, there are probably some pretty specific parts, components or modules you should always have on hand. No, it shouldn't take long at all. We can get started immediately. If the part does nothing but gather dust on the shelf for ages, many vendors even offer a full refund.
Because efficiency is a process and not merely a fact, accidentally ordering the wrong part is an all too common error. Besides the headache of being reimbursed an replacing the part, you now have a customer whose repair takes longer than expected.
Thankfully there are several solutions to minimize erroneous ordering. Many suppliers help eliminate human error by offering multi-view images of their inventory as well as VIN scanning and even license plate decoding to help ensure the vehicle specs match the desired part, component or module. Electronic/cloud transfer of data to your CMS helps further mitigate any damage.
Develop a Parts Ordering Process
Now that you’ve mastered your parts ordering scheduling, it’s time to address some of the pitfalls technicians, owners and advisors fall into when ordering parts. Ordering parts, for some, is not unlike learning to type—sure, there are some champions of the hunt-and-peck style on the keyboard out there, bashing out words one at a time with their index fingers, but they won’t hold a candle (or finish writing a novel) anywhere near as quickly as those who simply address the keyboard as a tool and learn to type.
Find the parts ordering tool that works for your shop’s needs, read the manual (or online PDF) and get to work. General repair, jack-of-all-makes shops may prefer to order parts in bulk, as their needs span the repair spectrum. Smaller or more specialized shops may prefer to create specific work orders according to make or model, or order parts less frequently in order to cut down on shipping costs.
For repeat customers or repairs, be sure to use your system’s notes pop-up reminders—some parts only function in tandem with others around them and they must all be ordered to match. Other times, older vehicles may have a TSB from the manufacturer that updates what needs to be ordered—something you may not have seen nor known about without doing the proper research.
What about fulfillment? Some systems offer 24/7 parts ordering tracking while others offer easy follow-up or simple options to repeat the same parts order at any interval or frequency. If you have the option to alert your clients about where their parts are in the repair process, do so--they’ll appreciate the transparency, trust the process and—with any luck—return to your shop next time they suffer a breakdown or need repairs.