As many of you know during the last year or so I have had the challenge, I mean, opportunity, to manage both the parts and service departments in my dealership. Due to the growth in these departments during this time, I have decided I need to spend more time focusing on the service department and we have brought in a sterling parts manager to oversee that department. As I switch my focus to service I find myself reflecting on what it took for our staff to grow the parts department into a strong force in the dealership.
We started with the basics: Including proper inventory levels, tracking the number of turns and returning old outdated products which made room for new lines. Another important aspect was the continual training on features and benefits of new products. We put this at the forefront as our customers are becoming more educated and expect us to be able to clarify any questions they may have. There are several online videos that will help you keep up with the latest products, but we found a valued resource for much of this training through the vendors who provide us the products.
One technique we used was planning visits from vendors. We would contact the field reps before their visits and discuss department needs. This insured they came to our store with the information and training aids we needed to maximize their visits. Some vendors would bring multiple staff who specialize in certain products to help with the training. One of the most effective changes, according to feedback from our customers, was a revamp of our displays. We decide to set up our parts department in what we call “brand in a box.” The simplest way to describe this is that each line of product is set up as its own little store so the area of the store, the display and the product all match. It requires a little planning as to the entire store layout. However, customers told us the new look was very impressive and the sales results proved that out as turns on helmets, handlebars, jackets, batteries and others increased in some cases over three times previous years’ levels.
I have to give a large amount of the credit to distributer Tucker Rocky who made this transition to brand in a box so successful. Their staff spent countless hours on the weekend helping us build out the displays and properly positioning the merchandise. With their help each product line looked like it was a trade show display. In addition, when the new 2017 line came out, again their staff showed up and pulled all the 2016 line and replaced it with the new product. This distributor even allowed us to return all the 2016 lines so we were not stuck trying to discount the old stuff down until it sold. I have never seen a more dedicated and knowledgeable group and it is always a pleasure to have those guys in our store.
Lastly, I think having a staff with a positive can do attitude was the number one thing that made our parts department successful. Customers love to have a place to go and hang out and talk about their motorcycle and the parts counter is the perfect place for this. By having motorcycle enthusiast at the parts counter who can share that enthusiasm for the lifestyle and the curiosity of the new products with the customers we were able to develop what I hope will prove to be a strong customer loyalty. Many thanks to our dedicated staff, who made my time in the parts department so successful, and keep up the good work.
It’s off to the service bays for me and I wish the best of luck to our new parts team. If anyone wants to see the before and after pictures of our parts department send me and email.
Jackson Smith is the parts and service manager at Destination Powersports, a multi-line OEM dealership located in southwest Florida. Jackson has more than 30 years experience in both the automotive and powersports industries.