OEC Blog

Making a Change Can Pay Dividends: One Dealership’s Story

Making a Change Can Pay Dividends: One Dealership’s Story

One of my favorite things to hear when I’m working with a dealership is that they are going to try something NEW!

To be honest, I really don’t care if it’s the worst idea I’ve ever heard; I’m just excited to hear that they want to TRY something.  More importantly, who the heck am I?  Maybe what I think will fail miserably will end up being the best idea of all time.  If I had all the best ideas, I would probably be on a yacht somewhere soaking up the sun with a cocktail in my hand, which clearly I am not.

Recently a dealership that I was working with decided to make a huge shift at their wholesale location.  They decided that their new top priority was to move parts and move them fast.  Their solution was to hire a guy with no previous parts experience.  Their new hire was a super smart, hardworking, overly motivated guy with a logistics background.

When I heard the news, I was slightly nervous for them, but mostly I was excited.  Maybe this idea would be a giant flop, but maybe — just maybe — it was genius.  It’s not typical for a dealership (or any company, for that matter) to take a risk like that.

So the new guy comes in with guns a blazin’. He’s ready to take on the challenge and more importantly, he’s ready to put in the work to accomplish it.  He started with re-doing the whole warehouse.  First was the area where the wholesale specialists work.  It went from a drab, dark, room filled with cubes from a 70’s call center, to a room with bright paint, desks without walls, and whiteboards galore for sharing ideas and important information.  Next was the warehouse, which was a HUGE overhaul.  Without giving too much away, because there is a real competitive edge to what they have done, they completely restructured the entire warehouse.  New labels, new sections, new work stations.  Clearly defined and specific locations for not only the parts, but also for pick-up, drop-off, returns — everything you could imagine about getting parts out the door has been clearly planned and thought out without a detail forgotten.

Thinking outside the box

In addition to the changes inside, he started to apply his logistics knowledge and ideas to how they deliver parts.  This was a double whammy because HE himself is an outside of the box decision for the dealership, and now HE was thinking outside of the box on top of it.  MIND….BLOWN!  The amount of ideas this guy had was extremely impressive.

What if we did the deliveries this way?

What if we changed the shifts to these times?

What if we hired people to do X, Y and Z? 

What if we discounted parts this way?

I think it’s also important to say that not every idea worked.  Things that work for other companies just didn’t work in the auto parts world, but the most important thing is that they didn’t stop trying.  They saw what was working and what wasn’t, changed some things up, and kept pressing on.  Every time I visit this dealership it impresses me that they, yet again, are trying something new.

This may be an extreme example, but I think it’s interesting to think about.  What can you do differently? Where can you gain a competitive advantage?  Try to remind yourself: the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.

Michelle Brittsan is a Field Rep for OEC.