Jeff Griggs is president of the National Tractor Parts Dealer Assn. and chief operations officer of All States Ag Parts, De Soto, Iowa. We talked recently about the parts business from his point of view, including working with equipment dealers.

Griggs mentioned two challenges that echo what we hear from equipment dealers: product availability and customer relationships. His take, though, on product availability is based somewhat on manufacturer production, but mostly on the aging used equipment inventory.

“There’s less and less equipment. As it ages, it just gets worn out and there are only so many made of each model. We’re our own worst enemy because we dismantle those tractors and every time we do that, it takes one more out of the market. We’re cannibalizing the opportunity, but along with that we are finding other opportunities to recycle (remanufacture) many of the parts multiple times, so that they are not totally unavailable to the consumer,” Griggs says.

Limited inventory plays into another challenge — or misconception that he wants to clear up. “Dealers see us as the enemy because we could be selling parts to customers who might be doing their own work as opposed to bringing the equipment into the dealership.” And, he does say that the Internet is a growth opportunity for him, presenting another competitor for dealers.

Griggs still says equipment dealers need to view parts dealers as partners. “We offer a lower priced alternative on used original parts. The dealers need to trust that we are going to offer them a quality part at a reduced price. Most of our members have warranties on used parts that are good or better than the manufacturer is offering on a new part. We need to develop that trust.”

Griggs also says that equipment dealers need to rely on their parts dealers as knowledge sources. “We can offer a knowledge base that even some OEMs can’t. A dealer may only know what they’re looking at on the screen. It’s our lifeblood.”

Using them as a knowledge source helps you build relationships with your parts dealers, too.

Dealerships are under pressure to be loyal to their manufacturers, including promoting original parts over used. Incentives to do so may influence heavily in choosing those newer parts. What processes do you follow at your dealership? Is it part of your approach to service that you go with new parts first? Or, how do you factor in used over new?

Use your answers to those questions as a selling point when talking with rural lifestylers. Explain how it benefits them, so that the parts expense is not a mystery charge on the invoice. They’ll feel more in control of the ownership and maintenance of the equipment. And, they’ll appreciate the extra time you’re spending with them, which benefits both you and the customer over the long term.