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Increasing Parts Sales During a Time of Change

Mixing new opportunities with proven methods is a great way to help your parts department continue to be a consistent source of revenue.

The last year or so has taught us nothing if not this: change is the only consistent thing. From the impact of COVID-19 to the ongoing development of electric and autonomous vehicles, and a wide range of other factors, the industry is experiencing a lot right now and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. All that said, the parts department folks, especially parts managers, are still focused on one thing: selling parts. That means always looking for ways to generate revenue, provide a great experience for customers, and incorporate new opportunities to get the most out of the tools at their disposal. While change is inevitable and adapting is necessary, it’s also okay to rely on the tried and true methods that have returned positive results for the parts department. It’s about finding the right mix of approaches to meet your goals and move your business forward.

Here are a few things to consider right now in order to grow sales, improve the customer experience, and run a smarter – and stronger – parts business.

Embrace Technology

Whether you sell collision or mechanical parts (or both), choosing a reliable technology solution helps streamline the parts fulfillment process and creates faster customer communications while also reducing human error. Like the industry itself, technology has evolved, but it’s become intuitive, easier to use, and more beneficial to your bottom line. Online parts ordering solutions also help:

  • Increase Speed & Efficiency – Online parts ordering software helps customers find parts information quickly, freeing up more time to generate revenue (i.e., selling more parts). Technology also provides greater efficiency for customers, who, like you, are also trying to grow their bottom line. An online ordering solution allows shops to log in, identify the exact parts they need, and easily submit an order to your dealership for processing.
  • Improve Customer Service – If you use online parts ordering software, it can increase your team’s ability to strengthen relationships with customers, build new accounts, and find new opportunities. The right technology should expand your customer base by exposing more shops to your parts inventory while providing greater service to your existing customers who are probably familiar with the online ordering process already.
  • Save Money – Help repair shops identify the exact OEM parts they need, so they can submit an online order directly to your parts department, eliminating lengthy or repeat phone calls and reducing the number of returns your dealership processes.
  • Stay Connected – Current technology performs many important tasks, but near the top of the list is connectivity. Parts sourcing technology connects dealerships with shops, creating a network of customers and, of course, parts sales opportunities.

Encourage Online Ordering

Online parts ordering technology incentivizes shops to buy more while offering your full inventory of replacement parts to potential buyers. In fact, online parts orders are consistently higher (more sales!) than the traditional over-the-phone order submissions. In addition to more sales, online parts ordering allows your dealership to:

  • Protect Your Current Business – Engage current customers and grow sales by making it easy to purchase parts from your dealership. Online systems also provide customers with additional resources to help ensure they’re ordering the parts they need and can complete the repair correctly (the first time).
  • Gain New Customers – When you sell OEM parts online, you get more sales opportunities just by being present where many buyers shop for parts. The vast majority of shops begin their buying journey online, so including your inventory in an online marketplace creates greater exposure to new customers.
  • Take Orders 24/7 – When you accept online parts orders, your inventory is available 24/7, allowing you to increase parts sales and begin each day with new orders. Perhaps even more importantly, many shops and buyers purchase parts outside of standard business hours, allowing your department to receive orders whenever your customers are ready to submit them.
  • Improve Order Accuracy – It’s a common misconception that phone orders are more accurate than online orders. Online ordering provides shops with diagrams and illustrations, allowing them to easily identify the right parts (and all of the parts!) they need to correctly complete a repair. Plus, with OEM parts, both you and your customers know they’re getting a high-quality part that’s designed specifically for that vehicle.

Lean into Your Advantage: High-Quality OEM Parts

While part sourcing technology is constantly evolving and, likewise, online ordering is still relatively new, the tried-and-true element in this list is the value of OEM parts. Focus on selling the OEM parts you trust and keep your customers informed regarding their value. As the higher quality and safer option – which is why shops prefer to work with OEM parts – they are beneficial to both the buyers and the sellers. Take time to remind customers that OEM parts:

  • Provide Easy Ordering – OEM parts offer seamless ordering and reduce processing time since they are designed for the specific vehicle in question. There isn’t going to be a concern of “is this the right one” or “will it fit?” This makes it easier for shops to buy parts.
  • Reduce Returns – When the part a customer buys is designed specifically for the vehicle they’re repairing, they’re less likely to return it (i.e., your customers know what they’re getting with an OEM part). This saves your team a lot of time that would otherwise go toward processing returns.
  • Are Often Included in Parts Programs – The OEMs have been incredibly aggressive in their willingness to implement or adopt parts programs that allow them to sell original equipment at prices that often match or even beat aftermarket pricing. These programs reduce the cost difference for shops and allow dealerships to be more competitive in their sales. Plus, your dealership can even receive reimbursements from the manufacturer when you sell OEM parts.
  • Offer a Better Customer Experience – Because automotive technology is evolving at spectacular rates, OEM parts are, perhaps, more important than ever. New technology will make repairs even more reliant on OEM parts since the aftermarket will be unlikely to meet the need given patents and the overall sophistication of the parts and vehicles. With automotive technology evolving at leaps and bounds, the dealership is going to play a critical role in helping to ensure vehicles are repaired safely and with parts that will return them to their original quality.

Be flexible but comfortable.

That’s the key! Leverage the right tools, including parts sourcing technology, provide your team and customers with an efficient workflow and a smoother process through online ordering, but also communicate the value of the products you know you can rely on: OEM parts. At the very least, you’ve probably already embraced part sourcing technology to some extent. Your customers certainly have! They’re already submitting online orders and, if you’re not accepting them, you’re missing out on potential sales. And, lastly, you (and your customers) know that the OEM parts your dealership sells are the right choice for vehicle repairs. The groundwork is already laid out for you and this is how you can make sure your parts department generates revenue and continues to grow. It’s also why it’s important to look for new ways to grow parts sales and increase profits… by making sure your team is – and remains – a major contributor to the success of the dealership.

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