Alex Power Equipment is Rural Lifestyle Dealer's 2019 Dealership of the Year in the single-story category. Here's an excerpt from the feature in the fall issue about the dealership's aftermarket philosophy.
Alex Power Equipment's dealership’s motto is “We treat customers the way we want to be treated,” and those words are the highest priority for the staff. To ensure they meet those expectations, they pay attention to shop efficiency and parts inventory. In the shop, Tom Townsend, service manager, says they aim for 80% efficiency, but adds that troubleshooting today’s equipment can make that more difficult to achieve. This summer, the shop was particularly busy and didn’t experience any down periods. And, it doesn’t matter if it’s a homeowner or a contractor, the same urgency is put on getting the job done.
“Any repairs you’re dealing with are critical to that person. You try to get it done in a timely manner,” he says.
In the parts department, Dave Deakins, parts manager, says, for the most part, they follow the rule that if you don’t sell it 3 times in a year, you shouldn’t have it in the bin. “But, there are things we stock just because we know we might sell them one consecutive year for every year for the last 5 years. That’s something you need and when it’s down it causes major problems [for the customer],” he says. “And then there are small dollar items, things that maybe don’t turn as fast, but you have to balance that out to what it costs to run the shop, too.”
The parts department aims to run at a 35% profit margin, and Alex Power’s absorption rate in 2018 was 93%.
One of the biggest challenges for the parts department is vendor supply fill rates because of the amount of equipment they have out in the market from their years of selling. “For example, years ago you might have had one tractor that was good for 15, 20 years, and a lot of the parts were the same. Now, all the changes that the manufacturers do in the computer systems makes it complicated,” Deakins says.
Another challenge Deakins said dealerships may experience, is finding the right fit when hiring for the parts department. He needs someone with a desire to work on computers and has critical thinking skills and can think outside the box. “I remember the guy who trained me, Jack, years ago. He said it takes 3-5 years to develop a parts person in this business. I would say that’s true. It takes 3 years for a good person to be able to know what’s going on enough to be able to take over,” he says.