The Value of Scrubbing Quotes
In many people’s minds, the old Dodge D50 pickup was a relic best left in the 1980s. Kent Cogswell, however, has a hard time getting it out of his mind.
After all, that efficiency-size pickup inspired one of the biggest blunders of the parts manager’s career.
“I didn’t scrub the quote,” recalls Cogswell, who manages the Jack Phelan Mopar Warehouse in Countryside, Ill. “I didn’t use the VIN [for] a D50 pickup truck. I looked up everything for a 150 domestic pickup truck.
“The entire order was wrong—I mean, it was thousands and thousands of dollars.”
As costly as that mistake was from years gone by, it taught Cogswell a valuable lesson: always scrub quotes thoroughly, verifying each line of a parts order to make sure all parties involved are on the same page.
After all, he notes, “the final responsibility of the part falls on the provider of the part. And, if you look at many of the disclaimers from the third parties, they say they’re not responsible.
“That magnifies our responsibility.”
Cogswell—who also serves as the longtime warehouse operations director at his Illinois facility—explains the keys to scrubbing quotes in a manner that’s above reproach.
As told to Kelly Beaton
We go line by line, verifying that the part number on the quote is for that car. It’s something you have to do with your own two eyes, using the manufacturer’s website, their catalogs. I’ve been scrubbing quotes for roughly 30 years, and when that number doesn’t appear, it’s usually for one of three reasons: it has superseded into a new part number, the second one is the part’s wrong—and a lot of times when it’s wrong, it’s just a generic color, and we’ve got to plug in the proper part number, which has the proper color code. And the third one is rare, but does happen: When you get close to production dates, sometimes that can create confusion.
If you’re not scrubbing quotes, you’re rolling the dice. And parts return money is very meager. When you do scrub the quote, you get more involved. And, when you’re scrubbing the quote, you’re also looking at availability—not only on your end, but if your manufacturer has it. If you don’t scrub the quote, you won’t find that information out until you send the order in. So, whoever scrubs the quote gets a big head start. And that’s where you build your reputation—uncovering the problem, or the wrong part number, and sharing it with your customer. Everyone has turned the screws on efficiencies, especially the insurance companies. So, you’ve got to check that order before you send the parts.
A good shop holds a parts department to task to scrub quotes. If they’re not scrubbing quotes they’re taking advantage of the customer. And yes, it does happen where parts departments are short on manpower; they might get hit with a ton of orders and an employee might say, “I don’t have time to scrub these,” and they just throw them through and hope they work out. And they often do. I’d say it’s accurate about 75 percent of the time like that. But this is where we make our living—building our reputation. There’s such an exchange of information that only someone irresponsible wouldn’t scrub a quote.
You can save time scrubbing quotes if you consider this: you’re taking one part number, which brings you to the right area of the book, and then it’s just looking to see if that number is populated and not grayed out. The VIN filter for each manufacturer is the key. You’ve got to go line by line, and you’ve got to know the catalog, but it’s all right there for you. You’ve got to be patient, you’ve got to let the customer know that you care, and that’s why you’re scrubbing it. Quite often, once we take that VIN filter off, we can find the right number. The most important thing is the proper VIN number.
Also, we find maybe six catalog errors annually, and once we report a catalog error to Chrysler, it’s on that Chrysler StarParts website within a week to stop it from happening again.
Also, you have to be involved from a supervision standpoint, because most companies just pay their guys for selling parts and don’t penalize them for the returns. You’ve got to get buy-in from your entire team to get the right part to the right person at the right time. You’ve got to build that integrity. And it all starts with scrubbing the quote.