Many years ago in our church, the task of adjusting the thermostat fell to good ole Gary. People always complained about it being either too hot or too cold during the sermon. One Sunday he came up to me and said "I have found the perfect temperature setting. Those that are always hot, were hot, and those who are always cold, were cold today. I now have everyone mad and yelling at me!
Such is the life of a parts manager. It is his lot in life to make sure the dealership always has every part on the shelf that the customers and the shop technicians will ever need. He will make sure there are no obsolete parts in inventory, no discrepancy in count vs what the computer states, keep up with supersessions and kits that have daily part number changes, make sure freight is charged, and deal with customers who ordered the wrong side of the needed part and refuse to admit it.
Finally, he must always conduct his inventory in a way that a smiling ear-to-ear financial officer or owner comes to him each month and says "Geez, the parts statement this month is way less than we thought it would be!"
The parts manager will always step in and assist the parts persons who have looked up every different configuration of the machine the customer stated he has, who is on the last nerve short of a breakdown.
He’ll listen as the customer says "Look, I bought one of these here 3 years ago, the danged thing was no good and now I need another. I need the thing that attaches to the rod that goes in the valve that makes the diverter spool push the poppet that always sticks -- you know!."
Therefore, yet another call to that manufacturer's parts tech, hours lost, and all in their day's work.
Did we mention the necessity to host 67 traveling salespersons a week all wanting a preseason order and whose deadline was last week, but "we can sneak yours in"?
OK, Back to Planet Earth
Parts managers uniforms should come with a bull's eye drawn on the back. The reality is the mechanics always complain about not having the correct parts, the financial department screams about too much money in parts inventory, the manufacturers want to train you to death and Momma wants you home ASAP. But since the mother-in-law's mower (she got it at cost) battery is DOA, supper will be late.
Parts management is both objective and subjective in nature. One has to turn the inventory 3 times a year as a goal but still have those parts he knows he will sell to that key customer.
"Mechanics always complain about not having the correct parts, the financial department screams about too much money in parts inventory, the manufacturers want to train you to death and Momma wants you home ASAP. But since the mother-in-law's mower (she got it at cost) battery is DOA, supper will be late. ”
One such incident occurs when a customer comes in, out of breath, and slams a broken part on the counter and states he has “searched the world over” for this part, you are his last resort, and if he doesn't get the part today, he will lose the family farm.
As the parts expert looks at the needed part, the light bulb goes on, he walks back to the next time zone in the parts department and reaches up and pulls down the needed part that has been there, unsold, for over a decade. He dusts it off, caresses it, takes it to the shop, brushes off the rust, applies some grease and sits it on the counter where the customer now goes in full worship mode, proclaiming him as the crown prince of parts in the greatest dealership of all times.
After paying, the customer leaves singing praises to the holy parts man. The beaming manager man picks up the phone and says, "Hello depot, send me three more!”
We are proposing a national holiday honoring parts managers. Since that will not happen, go out and hug your parts guys real good.
Til next time - wishing you smiles and prosperity.
Told from the perspective of an in-the-trenches owner/operator — Tim Brannon of B&G Equipment, Paris, Tenn. — Equipment Dealer Tips, Tales & Takeaways shares knowledge, experiences and tips/lessons with fellow rural equipment dealerships throughout North America. Covering all aspects required of an equipment dealership general manager, Brannon will inform, entertain and provide a teachable moment for current — and future — leaders within equipment dealerships.
More From Tim Brannon
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