Parts department success depends on employees' commitment levels, abilities and willingness to provide outstanding customer service. At one Kansas dealership, it also depends on staffers' roller skating talents.
Customers go back to you because they're more satisfied with your services than they are elsewhere. This is true of the entire dealership. All things being equal, it's your people who set you apart from the competition.
A dealership with the right ideas — one of them offbeat — is Hendrick Automotive Group's Superior Chevrolet in Merriam, KS, outside of Kansas City.
It wasn't just their performance that piqued my interest. It was also how this dealership, particularly its parts department, conducted business.
So I called Dave Hosley, the fixed operations director. When you call him, you don't get a standard greeting. You get this: “It's an unbelievable day at Superior Chevrolet! Can I help you please?” That tells what level of service to expect.
The dealership has been at its present location since 1974. It's been a Hendrick store for the last eight years. The parts department is 33,000 sq.-ft., 30,000 of it storage for a $1.7 million dollar inventory.
Total parts sales average $1.1 million a month with $600,000-$700,000 in monthly wholesale business and $50,000-$60,000 in. They are the second largest GM performance parts dealer in the South Central Region, and the 15th largest in the U.S.
The 28-person parts staff includes 12 counter people. Pretty standard for a large dealership parts operation. The real uniqueness is that about half the staff gets around the job on roller skates!
Hosley says the idea came about 28 years ago when, upon seeing the facility, an employee remarked, “Man this place is big enough to skate in.”
Says Hosley, “It became a great idea.”
Using roller skates helps the parts employees give quicker service to customers, increases departmental efficiency — the department can be run with about 1.5 fewer people — and helps insure that the departments aisles are constantly clean and orderly.
Hosley says people unable to roller skate or unwilling to learn need not apply.
But the roller skates are just a means to an efficient operation. Hosley insists the parts department's employees make the real difference.
He explains, “If you have the best employees, and they do the best job, you increase customer satisfaction. The main thing we have to sell in our parts department is service. Our people are extremely knowledgeable, talented, dedicated and they work as a team. Together everyone achieves more.”
The service department has had a top CSI score for 28 months straight.
It always goes back to people.
When I was researching my second book, “BEYOND THE NUMBERS: Managing the Assets of an Automobile Parts Business,” a parts store owner told me, “People buy from people, they don't buy from parts. Everybody's got parts. Chances are the parts came from only a few different factories. So you're back to people.”
The employees at Superior Chevrolet, and specifically in the parts department, reflects the organization's commitment to success through the cultivation and development of people.
When companies operate as though people are one of their greatest assets, these firms stand out — in management practices and in long-term results.
Compelling evidence indicates that success stems more from managing people effectively than from operating in a high-growth industry, attaining large size or, conversely, becoming lean and mean through downsizing.
Gary Naples provides parts consulting and training to dealers and manufacturers. Based in Wilkes-Barre, PA, he's written two books on parts management. He's at 570-824-1528.