Coexistence for us humans is so crucial today, as technology has made the planet we live on seem so small. Through understanding and cooperation, humans have grown to levels hardly imagined a generation ago. So if globally we can accomplish this, why does it seem so difficult within our dealerships?
Often you can feel the animosity between departments just walking around the building, and more than once I have witnessed department-level meetings turn into shouting matches. Is it the physical walls that we have built … maybe my techs are very jealous of the air conditioning in the parts and sales departments. However, I think most likely it is the lack of understanding of what the other departments do and how the departments are intertwined in their daily functions. If we are going to be successful and grow, quite frankly, every department in the dealership needs to understand they are interdependent for each other’s success.
One of these crucial interactions is our parts and service departments. I was recently looking over a job posting for a parts employee, and the importance of this interaction became immediately clear. The description included the following: Interface with service technician and insures their P&A needs are being met. Now that sounds straight-forward, but the ad went on to include: Take service technicians' parts orders and fill them accurately; assist service techs in determining P&A requirements for their job; recommend related parts for the job; determine the correct part numbers on all repair orders and post them to the repair order: pre-stage parts for repair orders; notify service personnel when parts arrive; report all defective parts to warranty administrator, box, tag and dispose of warranty parts as directed. After three quarters of the ad was over there were a couple lines about taking care of customers and inventory control. The ad opened my eyes to the fact that the parts personnel probably spend three-quarters of their efforts keeping the service department operating. Now if that’s not interaction, I don’t know what is.
If we are not careful, individuals will get tunnel vision and only focus on his or her job and goals. Management must be sure to infuse synergy within the dealership, so we all are working together to ensure our customers are enjoying the best possible experience with their powersports equipment. So how do we ensure this love fest between departments? First and foremost, managing on all levels must ensure everyone in the dealership is moving in the same direction. Indoctrinate employees with the message of interdepartmental cooperation being a must-have. Train and hire to build a team with a common vision, and soon you will have a broad-minded team that works well together.
Second, ensure all departments are treated equally. Just because service is parts' number one customer, that does not mean parts is subservient to service. The parts department must be fulfilling its function according to the dealership's overall strategy. Most parts departments want to carry a lower inventory, and service wants its parts immediately, so unless there is a high degree of communication and planning between the two departments, a conflict is bound to arise. It is wise to have the service and parts manager work on their department goals together to maximize the outcome of both departments.
Just as coexistence is a key factor to world growth, all of us in the powersports industry must work to accomplish this mindset within ourselves and the culture of our dealership.
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.