Dealers have the parts and personnel to keep the country going. While it’s tempting to concentrate on the immediate now, the fact to rely on the most is “this too shall pass.”
But first, dealers must concentrate on keeping their employees and customers safe during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Here are some of the best practices dealers have shared in my peer group:
- Calling your top 50 customers and sharing changes in your operations and processes.
- Promoting digital communications, such as ordering parts over a website or phone, setting parts outside for customers to pick up, using text messaging to update customers on service work orders and video chats.
- Setting up monitors in the parts showroom for customers to view as the counterperson looks up or orders their parts from a safe distance away.
- Lockers outside for parts pick up labeled with customer-designated numbers.
- Having half of the parts counter people working remotely to reduce human contact.
- Using electronic signature programs for parts and service invoices.
- Making sure parts and service employees wear gloves.
- Putting videos put on your website to explain common issues that operators face.
During this time, parts managers need to stay in contact with their mainline suppliers to ensure that orders will be shipped. Now is not the time to over-order and drain the supply channels for other dealers and their customers. Communicate with other dealers in your groups about how you can support each other when you need a part they have and how can you can work together to satisfy an end user.
I encourage dealers to look at their parts sales history for the past 24 months for all of their locations. Filter the report to only show parts with more than four sales in that time period. Then look at your most active sales by part number and make sure you have an adequate inventory. If you find you don’t have enough in stock, check your other locations to see if a transfer might work. Use your inventory dollars first. This will help your turn and also help the health of your balance sheet.
Take a strong look at your website. Look at it through the lens of your customer and ask if it is easy to navigate, order parts or communicate with the service department. Can users easily leave a message – and how long does it take them to get a reply?
As we navigate through the uncertain days ahead, also know that they are as full of opportunity as they are with challenges. I’ll take a deeper dive into those in an upcoming column.
Wayne Brozek has been in product support at the dealer level for the past 30 years. In 2014 Wayne began doing consulting work with parts and service managers in North and South America. You can contact Wayne at firstname.lastname@example.org.