Wednesday, January 4, 2023

January 2023: 2023 - A New Era of Parts Managers

Happy New Year "Smart Parts" Managers and I want to welcome in the New Year with my first question to all past, present and future "Smart Parts" Managers out there...

"So!...what made you want to become a Parts Manager, or perhaps become a Parts Manager?"

You don't have to answer right away because I've often asked myself that same question. For most of us "back in the day", we most likely fell into the role by happenstance. Maybe we didn't go onto college, or military service and we were just looking for a job. Then perhaps, we stumbled onto a parts counter position and then down the road...Voila!...we became the Parts Manager.

Believe it or not, many of us "old timers" did wind up as Parts Managers just as mentioned above and we learned from the previous Parts Manager. We also learned just the way they taught us and may have or may not have been a good thing. We never asked why, and we just did it the way they did and when asked why we do it that way, we simply said..."That's the way we've always done it!"

Problem with that statement is, we never knew if what we were doing was right or wrong, as long as we got the parts. Some of us were fortunate enough to get the proper training and knowledge as I was able to receive and attain. 

For many Parts Managers though, they just did it the same way every year. To the point that many Parts Managers would have perhaps 30 years of Parts Manager experience, which was actually one year, thirty times, never actually knowing what it took to be a successful Parts Manager.

This leads me to my second bold question of the New Year...

"What's so different today and perhaps coming in the future versus many years ago and what does it take to be a successful Parts Manager today and going forward?"

Let's begin our journey to the past, present and future...

Parts Managers in the Past:

I guess I fall into this category all the way to the present, but as I mentioned earlier, the qualifications on being a Parts Manager in the past was completely different than today, and perhaps in the future. Primary qualifications included being a trustworthy employee, maybe some tenure in the Parts Department before becoming the Parts Manager with a basic education background.

We weren't required to have a Financial or Accounting background as we were basically paid an hourly wage, or salary and we would never see a Dealer's Financial. As years went on, we may have received a "paste and cut" version of the Parts Sales & Gross Page as we may have achieved a bonus on total sales and gross. 

We never saw an Expense or Net Profit number to actually see how we ended up from a profit or loss standpoint. This was considered privileged information that we were not allowed to see or focus on as Parts Managers. 

We learned basic duties on how to look up parts in a catalogue and micro fiche well before computers came of age. We learned how to keep track of those parts we sold by writing them down as they sold and walking the aisles to see what we needed.

We checked our inventory to see what we stocked on a "counter pad", or we just walked to the bin to see if it was there. We usually had it as many parts fit many applications for many years and we just remembered the part numbers and where they were on the shelf, (pretty weird huh?)

We then learned how to order parts for restocking the shelves and customers by "mailing in" our parts orders, or perhaps via phone, or teletype machine, until eventually, on very primitive computers. We often picked those parts up ourselves at our local Parts Distribution Center, (PDC), or waited for them to come via mail, or UPS.

As we transitioned into the role of Parts Manager over the years, we were fortunate enough to witness change along with new innovations and new computers. We watched vehicle parts transitioning to vehicle components and computer chips becoming the brain of the automobile. Today, most vehicles have anywhere from 30 to 50 or more microchips controlling nearly every vehicle function.

Overhauling transmissions, engines, alternators, starters, rear ends, wheel cylinders, etc. have become a thing of the past as component replacements has become the new normal. Overhauling and actually "repairing" a component was how it was done "back in the day".

Lastly, and before we move on, electronics, computer software and fiber optics started controlling many moving parts that used to be driven via hydraulic pressure, vacuum assist, pumps, manual levers, air and even gravity. 

Parts Managers in the Present:

First and foremost, and as a Parts Manager from the above category, the most dynamic and "welcome" change from past to present is more and more women are becoming Parts Managers. Not only are they becoming Parts Managers, but they are also great Parts Managers!

I've had and still have the privilege to train and work with many women Parts Managers and their personality types and behavior patterns are well suited for the position. Not only that, but it also seems that all the women Parts Managers that I have worked with have or have had a more extensive educational background as opposed most of my Parts Manager gents out there.

Overall, today's Parts Manager, whether a guy or a gal, has to have a more extensive educational background than we did in the past. Today's Parts Manager should have an educational background that incudes Basic Standard Accounting, especially Automotive Standard Accounting.

Parts Managers today also have to be verse in both parts inventories, the Controlled Balance Inventory that we manage on the DMS side, and the Accounting Ledger Balance Inventory listed on page one of the Financial. These inventory variances were never a concern years ago that could be devastating to a dealer if not managed properly today. 

Other educational skills include computer software training to include Excel, Word, and other Microsoft Office Applications. Even more important is Financial and Personnel Management Training as managing the Parts Department has become "managing a business". Each dealership department has to stand on its own and be profitable, especially in these times.

We are now required to not only "manage the business", but also be a "profitable" business where we have to manage sales, gross and expenses to a desired net profit amount. We have to know, achieve and maintain industry guidelines on all sales, gross, expense and net profit categories.

Lastly, and not to be left out of today's Parts Manager's educational background is Inventory Management Skills Training as the parts inventory is one of, if not the most important dealer asset. It's much more difficult today to manage the parts inventory compared to years ago.

Managing proper inventory Stocking Levels today requires that certain skill of "balancing" between what the manufacturer wants us to stock versus what we should stock based on our own customer demand in order to maintain proper First Time Off Shelf Fill Rates.

Parts "life cycles" are much shorter as manufacturers increase their inventory breadth with more parts and more applications than years ago. A parts life cycle years ago would often see one part number fitting many applications for many years. 

Today, it's quite the opposite as many parts will only fit one application depending on vehicle options and for a shorter time span of year and model usage. Stocking the right part at the right time, along with eliminating obsolescence before it happens has become a high priority in protecting the dealer's investment.

In addition, today's Parts Manager has to "multi-task" and "juggle" through this ever-changing supply chain and back-order issues just to provide the service our customers' demands in this high pace world we live in. I can honestly say that we never had to deal with these issues in the past that we are experiencing today.

Today, we also have to be "network savvy" as E-Commerce purchases and sales continue to rise. Our parts purchases and sales are coming from a much more diverse network of online sales and purchases websites and warehouses. We continually have to use all our available resources to find parts and get rid of parts at a marketable price.

I have spoken to many Parts Managers that have been out there as long as I have, or even longer and they are spending many more hours a day managing these issues than ever before. We also joke about how so much has changed over the years and how much fun it used to be years ago.

Parts Managers in the Future:

Even though the future Parts Manager will experience all the above mentioned in the present, I believe it's going to get even more intense for the Parts Manager of the future. More and more electric vehicles will be hitting the market which means even more technology and "knowledge" that the future Parts Manager must have.

Mandatory training and education will be, in my opinion, a big player into managing the parts inventory in the future with algorithms taking over stocking levels, seasonal parts sales along and with even more "manufacturer control" on parts inventories in general.

I also believe that supply chain issues will be somewhat of a new normal as component replacements such as auxiliary batteries, control units, DC converters, motor drives, on board chargers, etc. become more in demand. These types of parts don't sound cheap to me and will most likely have limited supplies, manufacturers, vendors and warehouses all over the world.

Managing the parts inventory, in my opinion, is going to change drastically in the future as we spend less time "managing" parts inventory and more time "processing" parts inventory. Even though we will always need those maintenance and "wear and tear" parts, most other component parts will not be stocked and have to come from outside sources.

That being said, this is why I believe that these supply chain issues will only increase in the future as most dealers will not want to invest in a more expensive parts inventory with less movement at higher acquisition and holding costs. Who knows...we may be more of a Parts "Acquisition" Department in the future.

Online parts purchases and sales will also continue to grow as we will do what we have to in order to provide the service our customers demand. As mentioned in previous issues, E-Commerce sales and purchases are expected to continue rising and supply chain issues grow.

Even though we will always have to stock the right parts at the right time by any means, we will have to see what those parts are. In my opinion, only parts demand will dictate what we have on the shelf, which means, we should never go back on our basic Parts Manager instincts and processes which starts with the continued process of posting Lost Sales.

What lies in the future is definitely a mystery, but what we do know now is that we are seeing signs of what's to come. We have to constantly train ourselves and our staff in order to keep up with change and evolution. It all starts with our willingness to learn as we go, accepting and growing with the environment in order to achieve our goals.

If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :

(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...














Thursday, December 8, 2022

December 2022: Moving On To 2023: "Could This Be Our Year?"

As we wind down yet another year here at ACG "Smart Parts", it's time once again to look back to see what we have learned in 2022 and take a look ahead to perhaps what we can expect moving forward. One thing for sure is that this past year has been another challenge much like it has been for the past two plus years.

Predicting and forecasting for future events is not a certainty but what is for certain right now is that the automotive parts industry is hotter than ever! Who would think that after all we have been through these past couple of years or so, we would we even make that kind of statement.

Continued Pandemic awareness, rising inflation, employee shortages, on-going supply chain issues, parts backorder situations, new and used vehicle shortages and so on. Most importantly though and in my opinion, is the Lack of Consumer Confidence.

Based on the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, and as listed on their web page @ www.conference-board.org., this following statement was just released this past month of November...

"The Confidence Board Consumer Confidence Index decreased in November after also losing ground in October. The Index now stands at 100.2, down from 102.2 in October. The Present Situation Index, based on consumers' assessment of current business and labor market conditions decreased to 137.4 from 138.7 in October. The Expectations Index, based on consumers' short-term outcome for income, business, and labor market conditions, declined to 75.4 from 77.9"...

According to Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board, she goes on to say...

"The Present Situation Index moderated further and continues to suggest the economy has lost momentum as the year winds down. Consumers' expectations regarding the short-term outlook remains gloomy. Indeed, The Expectations Index is below a reading of 80, which suggests the likelihood of a recession remains elevated"...

So, with all the above said, and once again, how can we even think that 2023 is going to be "Our Year?" Furthermore, and the most important question is...

How Long Is This Going To Last?...

Here's the Good News!...

First and foremost, we are in an "Essential Service Industry", as we operate in the Transportation Industry, much like the Airline Industry, Rail Transit, or perhaps the Food & Clothing Industry and the Healthcare Industry just to name a few.

Even though we are not "Recession Proof", our Automotive Industry is essential to our way of life and must move forward, no matter what the economic situations are. What we do have to do is adapt to these conditions and remain in business and be profitable.

According to hedgescompany.com, we learn even more about how even through these times, our Automotive Parts Industry continues to grow. We learn that even though the economy is not good, our Automotive Parts Industry is "Recession Resistant". 

Let's start off with some basic facts as we get into the most recent data that proves our continued growth in these times. You would think with all the "doom and gloom" that we just revealed earlier in this issue, and at some point, something has to give to send us in a downward spiral.

Fact # 1:

The number of Licensed Drivers in the United States are actually climbing as industry analysts predict that we will reach 240 million Licensed Drivers by the year 2025. Miles driven is also up average 1.3% over the last few years, even though some analysts predict that this percentage will drop over the next few years as inflation and prices rise.

Fact # 2:

People are not returning to Public Transportation, or "Ride Sharing" as we witnessed prior to the Pandemic as online Parts Purchases continue to rise at a 9% growth rate as listed in the most recent Compound Annual Growth Rate, (CAGR) numbers. This number also equals forecasts made by The Auto Care Association as their forecasts reveal robust, continued growth through 2023.

Fact # 3:

E-Commerce Parts Sales continue to skyrocket as 2022 hit 38 billion in sales and is expected to rise over 40 billion in the coming year. In fact, it is predicted that E-Commerce Parts Sales, both in first party and third part sales will reach 67 billion by 2030! The Digital Influence on parts sales, both online and offline are up over 2% this year, even with inflation.

Fact # 4: 

Personal consumption on parts sales as a percentage of total income has also risen and continues to rise, even with rising fuel prices. Light Duty Truck and SUV sales continue to outsell regular passenger vehicles at a clip of 2-1. Truck enthusiasts especially are spending more and more on optional, non-essential truck parts such as accessories.

Fact # 5:

Used Vehicle Sales are up drastically as New Vehicle Sales drop to the lowest levels in years due to Supply Chain Issues, especially with the digital microchip shortages. This has resulted in record Parts & Service Sales over the last couple of years as these Used Vehicles have required higher maintenance and repair costs.

Fact # 6:

Consumers are keeping their vehicles for longer periods of time as New & Used Vehicle Ownership hits near the double-digit range in years. New & Used Vehicle financing is even pushing payments terms to 6 years or even more. Vehicle Loan Interest Rates are also on the rise, thus forcing the consumer to keep their vehicle through the loan payment cycle, closer to the end of the loan payment period.

Fact # 7:

The Automotive Parts Industry continues to pour in over a trillion dollars each year into our economy at a clip of 3.0% to 3.5% of our overall Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) and continues to grow even higher. These statistics don't even include the revenue generated from the manufacturing of automotive parts that are shipped overseas and around the globe.

In Conclusion:

Our automotive industry, in my opinion, is just going to keep growing and growing with even newer innovation, technology and the rise of totally Electric Vehicles. As we keep growing, and with each step upward, we will always need our vehicles serviced and repaired, no matter how our vehicles are powered.

Our "need for speed", and our personal choice on how we travel along with our overall passion for the automobile will be with us far beyond my lifetime. Consumer Confidence may drive our personal choices as to what we buy and when we buy, but if you are in an "Essential Service Industry" like we are, they will always buy.

Question is...

"Will They Buy from You & Could This Be YOUR Year in 2023?"

If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :

(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...











Wednesday, November 2, 2022

November 2022: Winding Down In 2022 - "What Have We Learned?"

It's hard to believe that we are "winding down" this current year of 2022, but do we actually have that mindset of "winding down" this year, or are we "winding up" and preparing for the new year right around the corner?

It has definitely been a challenge this year, much like the past couple of years as we, once again are having to endure through struggles in our personal and business lives. Backorders and Supply Chain Issues still haunt us and just trying to cope with our current economic situations is more than anyone could wish to deal with.

That being said, and in my opinion, we have always adapted to our environment, especially in the automotive industry as we just pick ourselves up, brush the dust off our sleeves and get right back into the arena to battle yet another day.

In this issue of ACG "Smart Parts", we are going to focus on what 2022 has taught us to this point. We have already published ten issues thus far in 2022 through October and each issue has had a significant topic, meaning and focus to help guide us through these times.

Each month's topic has also included a solution to what we are currently dealing with, surviving through and most importantly, prospering through these times. Unfortunately, we don't often read between the lines, and we tend to complain, or have excuses for undesired results.  

Quite honestly though, we are not alone as it rains everywhere, and we are all having to deal with backorders, supply chain issues, employee issues, manufacturer demands, increasing costs, customer demand and a whole lot more.

This month's issue will challenge all "Smart Parts" Readers as we will highlight each month's topic thus far in 2022 and give actual reason, benefit and result to each month's topic. In other words, we will resurrect the topic of each month and if, only if, we applied these recommendations from ACG "Smart Parts"...ask yourself this question...

"Where Would I Be Right Now?" 

Let's begin with January 2022...

January 2022: The Top 10 "Do's & Don'ts" for 2022

There is no better way to start off any New Year, especially this year with what we should be focused on and what we should avoid. In January of this year, we highlighted our Top 10 "Do's & Don'ts" as Smart Parts Managers.

Starting at Number Ten and winding down to our Number One, we focused on proper Special-Order Processes to avoid adding more to our Obsolescence, then on to Ordering Parameters, Managing & Maintaining Proper Stocking Levels in order to stop Obsolescence before it happens.

We also focused on Updating Pricing Levels each month as costs is always changing, just like at Walmart, or any department store. So why don't we update our prices more often, or at least review our pricing strategies as often as we should? Unfortunately, many dealerships haven't updated their prices for many years due to the fear of losing customers to other dealers.

In my opinion, if we are worried about losing customers due to adjusting for these inflationary times, then we have other issues that may be causing low customer retention rates. Customers will always come back if we provide great service and a fair price.

Parts Monthly Reconciliation, Proper Posting of Lost Sales & Emergency Purchases led us down to our top "Do's & Don'ts" in January of this year along with providing more Parts Training, more aggressive Parts Pay Plans and Incentives topped out as our Number Two and Number One "Do's" for January of this year.

February 2022: D.M.S. Utilization:

D.M.S. Utilization was and is still a hot button in many dealerships today. For years, our Dealer Management Systems, (D.M.S.) have gone way underutilized. As a matter of fact, the average utilization factor for most systems is a shocking 20% - 25%! That means we are only using our system's capabilities up to a measly 25% at best.

Sad thing is that dealers are paying lots of money for these systems and they are not being used to their potential. One of the main reasons for these poor results is a lack of "proper" training on these systems, or what their capabilities are. D.M.S. Training Installations fall far short of the training needed to even come close to better utilization factors.

Sadly, many D.M.S. Installers don't even know what they are installing, especially in the Parts Department as "cookie cutter" set ups are installed that don't even meet basic math equations. On top of that, many D.M.S. Installers have never worked in a dealership before and can't even communicate on a dealership level.

March 2022: The Parts Department In The EV Revolution:

I have to admit, this was one of the most fun issues for me this year! I'm not saying I am for or against EV's, but it did challenge me to do the research on Electric & Hybrid Vehicles in general. I felt like I was in High School again as the research and information was amazing.

The topic in March was driven by many Parts Managers asking me...

"What kind of Parts are we Going to Sell on these Electric Vehicles?..."

This question led me on a quest to find that answer and lo and behold, I got more than I bargained for as I believe that we will be even more profitable in the Parts Department as these "EV's" evolve as they do require maintenance and will have "wear and tear" parts issues as well.

This issue probably has the most in-depth research of 2022, and you just may want to read it again as they will have a more significant impact to Parts Departments in the very near future. I know I learned a lot by doing the research as well as opening my mind to something fairly new.

April 2022: Dealing With Supply Chain Issues:

Our April issue still haunts us today as backorders, cross-ship parts, restricted parts, etc. are still huge issues. The key on our April issue is not so much that we have these issues, it's more about how we are dealing with these Supply Chain Issues.

First and foremost, we all have Supply Chain Issues, and we have to deal with it. We have dealt with many similar situations in the past such as Union Strikes, Petroleum & Refinery Strikes, Railroad Strikes and so on. We just have to have a mindset of dealing with it versus using it as an excuse.

In our April issue, we drill down hard on overcoming this on-going Supply Chain Issues. Backorders for example, do we just lay down when we see them pop up, or is our job just beginning as we now have to find this backordered part elsewhere? 

Unfortunately, many Parts Managers are settling in and not taking the extra steps, or "effort" to do their job, which is providing parts to our customers. In my opinion, we can't just settle and tell our customers, or Service Manager that nobody has it and it's on national backorder. We need to have a "somebody has to have it" attitude.

May 2022: Mapping Out The Parts Department Floor Plan:

Our May issue was a little different and isn't often thought of as a crucial topic in the Parts Department, especially in these times. Ironically though, our Parts Department "Floor Plan" plays a key role in our overall theme this year

We just got through talking about Supply Chain Issues in our April issue and that alone directly dovetails into having the right Parts Department Floor Plan. Not only should our parts be conveniently "binned" from fast moving parts, to slower moving to bulkier parts, we need to have adequate "air space" to stock the parts we need.

On top of that, and especially in these times, we may have to carry the added Days Supply of the parts we sell the most. This means we need to have the adequate pace to stock these Extra Days of Supply, even if we have to "overstock" these hard to get, fast-moving parts, and store them in outside storage units.

Lastly, our May issue was a hot topic because many Parts Managers "understock" their fast-moving parts inventories due to a lack of space. That may have been okay a few years ago because we were replenishing our Normal Stocking Parts pretty much overnight.

It's a different situation these days as many manufacturers are experiencing much lower fill rates from their local PDC's compared to just a few years ago. We cannot afford to run our Days Supply of parts down below or close to our "Lead Time" Days that potentially lead to stock out situations.

June 2022: Expanding The Parts Inventory "Breadth"

If you haven't noticed by now, there is a pattern here and a progression in our issues in 2022. Expanding the Parts Inventory "Breadth" in order to have better inventory coverage and better "First Time Off Shelf Fill Rates" should be our Number One Goal as "Smart Parts" Managers.

Ensuring the right D.M.S. Set Ups & Controls, with the right math, allows to have better inventory coverage with higher "First Time Off Shelf Fill Rates". Expanding the inventory "Breadth" increases Cycle Times in our Service Departments and Collision Centers.

The best part is, having the part on the shelf lessons the chances of increased backorders, cross ship parts and restricted parts. Having the right part at the right time, during these times is a great advantage as the parts we make the most gross profit on are those parts that we normally stock, much like having the right vehicle on the lot.

July 2022: Managing The Tire, Gas , Oil & Grease Inventories

Our July issue was a little different as it took us down the road of Parts Reconciliation and Proper Accounting. Parts Reconciliation in general was and still is a very hot topic dating back to the beginning of the Pandemic.

Due to the Pandemic and economic changes over the last couple of years, dealers are getting even smarter, watching their expenses and maximizing on sales and gross opportunities more than ever. All this includes dealers getting smarter on their Accounting Practices.

The Parts Department asset in most dealerships today, is the second highest asset they have next to the Used Vehicle Inventory. Who knows, the Parts Inventory maybe the Number One asset for some dealers with shortages in finding vehicles in general to sell.

That being said, the Tire Inventory and the Gas, Oil & Grease Inventory usually have the most discrepancies when reconciling the parts inventory in general. In July, we broke it all down as managing all these parts inventories, especially reconciling them, can actually "make or break" a dealer if the Ledger Balance Inventory climbs well over the Controlled Parts Inventory on the D.M.S.

August: "Don't Take Your Foot Off The Gas!"

Here's where we started stepping up as in August, we challenged dealers and "Smart Parts" Managers to not laying down and accepting the status quo, or maybe just falling into the trenches with everything that's going on with all these backorders, supply chain issues, employee woes, etc.

"Enough Already!" is what I was hearing quite often as many parts managers have had enough as they were saying that it's not fun anymore. Day after day, fighting with manufacturers to get parts, answering that never ending, preverbal question all day long..."When is my part going to be in"?

All the while, in August, we sent out our battle cry to not only let these times not get the best of us, but it was also time to step on the accelerator of go to the next level. Backorders seem to be a way of life now and instead of complaining about them, we just have to deal with them as part of the job.

Instead of thinking that our job was over when we experience these backorders, it's actually just beginning as we have to do our best to either change, or upgrade the backorder status, find the part by other means, i.e. OEConnect, or even Aftermarket options if necessary.

"Are you Seeing a Pattern Here Yet?"

September 2022: "It's Time To Raise The Bar!"

Our September issue was a perfect follow up to August where we encouraged "Smart Parts" Manager to keep their foot on the gas. Now that we have our foot back on the accelerator, it's now time to raise the bar and take it up a notch.

This year has also seen many dealers going above and beyond normal industry guidelines. Used Vehicle Grosses have never been higher, and many dealers are actually more profitable now than ever! Who would have thought that enduring a crisis like a pandemic would reap these kinds of results? I, for one wouldn't have thought it would be like this.

You would think that just surviving through, (which many of us did) would be the primary objective, but it's going much higher and beyond that. Dealers are breaking records in sales and gross profit as retained gross percentages are climbing, especially in the Parts Department.

It seems that the mindset got to the point where dealers thought that they had to get what they could get, no matter what, in order to survive. Survival is one of our basic human instincts and it appears that when we got in "survival mode", something happened.... we made more money! What a concept!

September taught us that not only was it time to raise the bar, we realized that it was already happening all around us as we were finding ourselves achieving new and higher guidelines, or expectations. Now, we have to raise the bar just to keep up with everyone else! If not, we will just be left in the dust.

October: Managing Through Inflation In The Parts Department

We have now worked our way up to our last month's issue of ACG "Smart Parts" and if these past couple of years haven't been enough to deal with already with the pandemic, supply chain issues and the like, now we have to deal with Inflation and a potential Recession! It's now time to toughen up even more!...Seriously?

Our October issue took us through our "Top 10 Factors" that we have had to focus on in order to get through these inflationary times. On top of that, we learned not only how to get through these times, but we have also learned how to succeed and prosper through these times.

We started setting new and exciting Achievable Goals, we beefed up Parts Department Training and Staffing Needs. We added more Aggressive Pay Plans & Incentives, while Controlling Expenses even better. Finally, we started to utilize our Purchasing Power by Shopping Vendors and better controlling our Stocking Levels.

We also learned that we have to "constantly" review our Pricing Strategies in order to keep up with rising Inflation. We just can't afford to have a "set it and forget it" mindset as prices are always changing which means we have to keep up with these price changes. In order to maintain our gross margins, it just makes sense to adjust with the market as it is constantly changing.

Managing obsolescence is more important now than ever before as our assets, especially our parts inventory asset has to "turn" at industry rates, or even better. We cannot afford to hold onto obsolete inventory anymore as Acquisition & Holding Costs are rising at an alarming rate.

Returned, or sold obsolescence, even at $.50 cents on the dollar, or perhaps less can actually be re-invested on parts that turn several times a year and can actually bring back a "Return on Investment", (ROI) of well over 250% - 300%. Cash is king, especially in these times as well as getting the best return on our assets.

Lastly, in October we highlighted one of the most important factors of weathering this storm and that is accountability. First and foremost, we have to hold ourselves accountable before we can hold our employees accountable. It all starts at the top as we, the "Smart Parts" Manager has to set the example.

Our focus all year has been on this challenge that we all face and to not let these current events sway us from our overall goals and expectations. It's actually quite the opposite as we have to hit these challenges head on and consider them opportunities.

It takes a "Smart Parts" Manager to evaluate the situation, come up with a plan and then execute the plan to expected results. If you think about it, these past couple years are really no different than any other year because no one knows what lies ahead. 

The only thing we do know is that we alone are ultimately responsible for our own destiny and results, no matter what the environment throws at us, just like it has always been. We can have all the knowledge and background training in the world, but if we don't have the desire to succeed, the environment will suck us in and dictate the outcome.

If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :

(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...



Monday, October 3, 2022

October 2022: Managing Through Inflation In The Parts Department

Inflation in itself is an interesting topic that we are all familiar with as the economy is one of the biggest concerns for all of us in this country. It affects each and every one of us every day and "coping" with it is a struggle in itself. It's also one of the biggest topics, discussions and conversations that everyone can relate to.

On the receiving end of Inflation, we really don't have much we can do in the way of preparation as it's more of how we deal with it and make the necessary adjustments purchasing goods and managing our own expenses. Being "frugal" and watching our pennies is our primary means of preparation.

On the other hand, and from a retail perspective, we are on the other side of Inflation as a free market provider of goods and services, especially in the Parts Department. Preparation for Inflation takes on a whole different meaning as we have to consider many other different factors.

One might think that just adjusting our prices to Inflation is all we have to do as the "trickle down" effect takes center stage. After all, we just have to adjust our prices as our costs increase and then just pass the added cost down to the consumer to remain profitable.

In all actuality, it goes much further than that as just merely adjusting our prices to meet the added costs we incur is one of the last factors in preparing the Parts Department for these inflationary times. We have to have a different mindset with a "preparation to meet expectation" attitude and focus.

In this issue of ACG "Smart Parts", we are going to list out our "Top 10 Factors" in preparing the Parts Department for these inflationary times. Some might think that there can't be that many factors in inflation preparation in the Parts Department, but I believe that all these "Top 10 Factors" play a huge role.

We are not alone in the Parts Department as most other businesses that offer retail goods and services are going through the same thing, having to consider many factors in inflation preparation. As a matter of fact, and as we review our "Top 10 Factors", you may see that these factors may apply in any business.

We will review all these factors in order of importance from an ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective, starting with our Number One all the way up to our Number 10 factor in "Managing Through Inflation In The Parts Department". Preparation is also the key to success and if we aren't prepared, we won't meet the expectations.

We all know Inflation is already here and we have been dealing with it for a couple years now, but are we really prepared? Are we really considering all the right factors that we should be in order to not only survive Inflation, but succeed and prosper through it? 

Question is....

"What's Your Answers to These Questions?"

Let's Begin with our "Top 10 Factors" in Succeeding through Inflation!...

Number One: Goal Setting/Guidelines

First and foremost, and if we haven't done it already, we have to have a plan. We all know that we have to meet or exceed industry guidelines, but the bar has been raised as we mentioned last month. Dealers have been "raising the bar" over the last couple of years and to some degree, the demands have increased from the status quo.

Not only do we have to "raise the bar", most importantly, we have to communicate these new goals and guidelines all the way down to our parts employees as no one should be left out of the overall objectives. Everyone has to be on the same page and understand what each staff members duties & responsibilities are.

Number Two: Training

Parts Training has become more important than ever as I can attest to over these last couple of years from the Parts Manager down to counter staff, shipper/receivers and parts delivery staff. Every position is crucial from proper receipting of parts, posting Lost Sales and Pricing Policies.

Parts Manager Training on the Proper Set Ups & Controls on the D.M.S. in conjunction with the Manufacturers Vendor Managed Inventory, (V.M.I.), if offered, is crucial to understanding and maintaining proper Stocking Levels and the process of Phasing In the right parts at the right time.

If you don't know it already, Parts Counterpersons are "salespeople", and they have to be trained in selling skills. They have to also have a personality that accommodates the sales environment and be dressed appropriately to represent the dealer's profile.

The Front Parts Counter area needs to display accessories, apparel, etc. and have a "store front" feel to it to invite customers. It cannot have a "service counter" look to it and should be updated frequently with new products and displays as opposed to old, outdated accessories that just collect dust over time.

Number Three: Proper Staffing/Employee Incentives

Proper staffing in the right position in the Parts Department is key to providing efficient service to technicians and front counter customers. Technicians standing in line waiting for parts is a "Productivity Killer" as time is a perishable inventory. 

If a technician is waiting for parts for even 15 minutes can cost $50.00 to $100.00 in parts and service sales that we can never get back. Unfortunately, many dealers under staff the counter staff based on sales resulting in Lost Service Productivity.

Parts employees should also have sales incentives as they are salespeople after all. Incentives based on Overall Sales, and/or Service Productivity promotes higher sales and team effort in increasing Service "Cycle Times". It also incentivizes the Parts Department to have the right part at the right time and much faster.

Number Four: Controlling Expenses

Controlling expenses is not a new thing, or is it any less important at any time, especially during these inflationary times. But what is more important now more than ever is reviewing our vendor invoices on a monthly basis. Most often times, we just pay the bill each month from the same vendors without batting an eye.

In addition, payables and receivable staff don't often communicate with managers on the bills we are paying each month. All Managers, and not just Parts Managers should authorize all semi-fixed expenses each month and "sign off" legibly so that there is no confusion as to what is being paid and who's paying for it.

Paying for employee overtime has also been an issue the last couple years between the pandemic and rising inflation. More and more dealers are cutting back on hourly and/or salary-based compensation as a means of controlling overall dealer expense as our employees are our biggest expense.

This can be a "Catch-22" though as we can't expense our way into profit in most situations and we don't want to cut our staff and hours too low where it effects overall sales and gross. We need to staff properly based on industry guidelines and in sales, our sales staff needs to perform as well to industry guidelines.

Number Five: Purchasing 

This category of purchasing goes beyond just buying part in the Parts Department as we are referring to all purchasing controlled by the Parts Department. Sublet Purchases, Shop Supplies, Cleaning Supplies, Waste Oil & Hazardous Waste Removal, etc. are just a few of examples of the "purchasing power" of the Parts Department above and beyond just parts purchases.

That being said, there should only be authorized parts personnel that have the "power" to create and authorize a purchase order, whether buying parts or any other of the above examples. In addition, all purchases, invoices and purchase order numbers need to be "married up" for Accounting Reconciliation. 

Parts purchases also have to be reconciled to ensure that the price we pay is the price we cost out on the repair order or parts invoice unless there are adjustments to be made in Discounts & Allowances to balance with the Parts Ledger Inventory in Accounting.

Number Six: Shopping Vendors

This category kind of "dove tails" into our Number Four on Controlling Expenses, but with a little twist. Not only should we be authorizing only what we purchase, we should also be "shopping" our vendors at least twice a year to keep them honest.

One example is that I just changed my Auto Insurance Company after being with them for over thirty years. The increases in rates over the last year have been astronomical and they just thought I would go along with it. 

They took for granted that I had been with them so long and that I would just accept these crazy rates. The end result was a huge savings with a top insurance company with even better coverage. All I got for excuses from my previous auto insurer was..."prices are going up everywhere". 

We have to do the same thing in our Parts Department as our dealer's "purchase agent". As mentioned, we need to keep them honest and shop, compare and barter with other vendors who are trying to make it through these inflationary times as well. You may be surprised at what some of these vendors may offer in order to get our business!

We just don't have to settle for the status quo when it comes down to spending the dealer's money. We just have to be diligent and do our homework and take the time to do the research. After all, and as in my auto insurance example, if it was your money...what would you do?

Number Seven: Stocking Levels

Some may feel that our Number Seven should have higher priority, but when you think about it, and other than our Number Four on Controlling Expenses, all the other factors have to come into play in order to properly manage our Stocking Levels.

One thing for sure that we all have experienced Supply Chain Issues over the past couple of years and to some degree, we still are going through it. That being said, it becomes even more imperative to have the right Stocking Levels while battling Inflation.

Not only the right Stocking Levels, but the right Stocking Levels on the "right parts" and that can only come from our D.M.S. with the Proper Set Ups & Controls based on the math and our own individual demand history from Sales and Lost Sales.

The last thing we need is to increase our Stocking Levels while adding to the obsolescence problem. We have to have the right parts at the right time while "Phasing-Out" the part that have no demand in over seven or eight months while we still have a 35% - 40% chance of selling those parts and not restocking them, unless they meet Phase-In Criteria all over again.

Number Eight: Controlling Obsolescence

This category just makes sense as a follow up to our Number Seven on Proper Stocking Levels. Obsolescence is also a category that is no stranger whether managing through Inflation or not, but what is different now is we cannot afford to hold on to it.

The IRS Standard Depreciation of any commodity or inventory is half of the cost of what is displayed on the D.M.S., which is approximately $.50 cents on the dollar. Acquisition & Holding Costs alone add up over the years and for the most part, the dealer has already made money on those obsolete parts over the years just on price increases alone.

The cash back from selling the obsolescence for whatever we can get can be reinvested on parts that sell, or "turn" several times a year on faster moving parts. Unfortunately, the old theory that many dealers still have today that "it has to be worth what it costs" is old school. These dealers still don't realize the ROI that can come from selling it for $.40 - $.50 cents on the dollar.

Lastly, we have to "stop the bleeding" and control obsolescence from happening in the first place which can come from having the right D.M.S. Set Ups & Controls along with an "In-House" Scrapping Program, (an ACG "Smart Parts Exclusive"). 

An "In-House" Scrapping Program also frees the dealer from the clutches, controls and dependency on the manufacturer for trying to build return allowance from purchasing more parts for that little bit of protection that never matches the obsolescence build up each year.

Number Nine: Pricing Policies

Wow!...we finally got to the meat!...our Pricing Policies to combat Inflation!...

Even though pricing is the final "end game" in battling inflation, we absolutely cannot have the "right" Pricing Strategies unless we do all of the above first. Developing the right Pricing Strategies while maintaining, or even growing our customer base is absolutely crucial.

The amazing thing is that developing the right Pricing Strategies is the easiest thing we can do because it's all about the math. The key ingredient to developing these strategies is our cost factors, as cost is constant. What we pay for parts is what we pay, and we have to structure our gross profit from "cost up".

We also have to keep up with our cost factors as most manufacturers have already had two major parts price increases this year alone. They are passing the ball down to us and we have to pass it on down as well to ensure our gross margins. Gross pays the bills, and we have to be able to afford our Number One Asset, which is our employees.

Developing and maintaining our Pricing Strategies is not a "set it and forget it" category as we need to review, modify and update, if necessary, each month to ensure our gross margins. We have to compare our results each month to industry guidelines and make the necessary modifications.

Number Ten: Accountability

Our Number Ten is the "glue" to all of our "Top 10 Factors" in our battle against inflation. Everyone, and I mean everyone needs to be held accountable to their Duties & Responsibilities. We cannot achieve our goals if we deviate from the process and dealer guidelines listed above.

Parts gross killers include discounting, price overrides, costing errors, pilferage, parts security, lack of training, housekeeping, accrued obsolescence, accounting errors, improper reconciliation, etc. and I could go on and on. We have to maintain control and accountability at all times.

As mentioned, parts is all about the math and if we don't achieve our gross numbers, then somebody is overriding the math, it's that simple. If we don't receive the results we expect, there has to be a logical reason.

Inflation is just another period in time that we have to adjust to. Getting through it and prospering through it are two different things....

If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :

(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...


 











Wednesday, September 7, 2022

September 2022 - An ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective: "It's Time To Raise The Bar!"

It's hard to believe that we have reached yet another milestone here at ACG "Smart Parts" with our 150th Edition. In this edition, and as a follow up to our last edition titled "Don't Take Your Foot Off The Gas!", we are going to challenge "Smart Parts" Managers yet again in this month's issue.

For years, we have measured our individual dealership success by meeting or exceeding the standards set by industry analysts, companies and of course, the manufacturers. These guidelines have changed to some degree over the years, but overall, they have been the standards that we have all been compared to.

These comparisons, or "composites" have given us industry information in many areas in all dealership departments and help us determine if we are above average, just average, or below average. This collective information has also helped many dealers meet or exceed these guidelines by sharing different processes and ideas with other dealers.

Since the Covid-19 Pandemic began a couple years ago and, in my opinion, much has changed in how dealers operate their businesses. Along with supply chain issues, employee shortages and rising inflation, dealers had to adapt to a different way of doing business in order to survive.

That being said and fast forwarding to today, I have noticed that many of our industry guidelines are being replaced by new goals and guidelines set by individual dealers. One good example of this is what dealers are achieving today in their average "front and back" New & Used Vehicle Gross Profit Margins.

Many have over doubled their "front and back" New & Used Vehicle Gross Margins to offset supply chain issues and overall lower New & Used Vehicle Sales. Many are actually making more with less with Floor Plan Expense dropping by thousands of dollars.

This phenomenon is also true in the Fixed Operations as dealers became even more dependent on their Service Absorption, or "Fixed Coverage" in the dealership's "back end". This trickle-down effect, in many dealerships today between the front and back end has made them more profitable than ever!

"So, what has all this done to our industry guidelines, especially in the Parts Department?"

In my opinion, the results of these past few years have definitely impacted our industry guidelines, especially in the area of parts for sure. As a matter of fact, the impacts are so great that we need to start thinking about "raising the bar" on some of our parts guidelines.

In this issue, we will break down five of these guidelines and perhaps, get a new perspective on where we should set that bar. Even though, we are not challenging or disagreeing with these industry guidelines, we are just challenging ourselves to achieve what is possible.

Question is...

"If other dealers are doing it...What should MY new guidelines be and how far do I raise the bar?"

Let's Begin...

First and foremost, we can't just throw crazy numbers and percentages out there to achieve some crazy goal as these goals and guidelines have to be S.M.A.R.T.* Each guideline has to be carefully thought through, make sense and most important, the math has to work as well because Parts is not about opinions, it's "black & white".

* Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Focused

In each guideline category, we will list the current industry guideline and then we will list our ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline and as you will see, the math will have to work to match other parts industry guidelines. Also, we will back these ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guidelines with formulas, and/or definitions to confirm the perspective guideline result.

The following five guidelines are not listed in any particular order, and we will list industry guideline first, then followed by our ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline. We will follow with our reasons and explanations for "raising the bar" if need be, or if we maintain our current parts industry guidelines.

Customer Pay Parts Retained Gross Percentage:

Industry Guideline: 40% - 42% (Matrix When Possible)

ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline: 45% - 48% (Matrix Captive Parts, Flat Price Competitive)

This guideline is the one that I've seen climb the most over the past few years in many dealerships that I have visited as well as the most under achieved guideline. It seems that many dealers are either "over-achieving" the industry guideline, or they are not even coming close which has resulted in the biggest gap of all the guidelines.

In my opinion, there should only be two Pricing Strategies on Customer Pay Parts. One being the proper utilization of a Parts Pricing Matrix in the right "cost plus" ranges on "captive parts" and the second Pricing Strategy being "flat priced" parts for "competitive parts".

The reason the industry guideline is at 40% - 42% is because most Manufacturers Suggested Retail Prices are set to retain an average of 40% - 42%, even though some are higher and some lower, the overall average will retain a 40% - 42% retained gross, which matches the industry guideline.

The ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline for Customer Pay Retained Gross Profit goes a little further. The reasoning for "raising the bar" on Customer Pay Gross follows two basic, commonsense principles. Plus, this 3% - 5% increase in Customer Pay Gross Retention doesn't really change customer perception when it comes down to what people buy.

The first basic principle is the cost of doing business has gone up expensively, especially in Parts from Acquisition & Holding Costs, Cost of Employees, Insurance, etc., just to name a few impacts of what we are experiencing today versus just a few years ago.

The second basic principle is customer perception when buying parts and services in our dealership. As I mentioned, the average MSRP of parts today is pretty much set to average the current industry guideline of 40% - 42%, which from a "cost plus" standpoint, we are marking up from cost by 67%.

In addition, and another fact is that approximately 80% of our parts sales are coming from the $10.00 to $40.00 cost range. That being said, if I have a $20.00 cost part, the manufacturer will most likely have an MSRP of approximately $33.40. This is where it all starts as this price at MSRP drives the customer perception, if any.

If I were to "matrix" that same part that costs $20.00 cost + 82%, instead of 67%, I would be selling that same $20.00 cost part at $36.40, which is only $3.00 more. The difference though is that I achieved a 45% gross profit margin instead of 40%. In my opinion, if the customer says "yes" to $33.40, they will also most likely say "yes" to $36.40.

This, of course only applies to those "captive parts" when customer perception doesn't usually play a role as much as "competitive parts" would. In my opinion, those "competitive parts" should be "flat priced" and weighted for average pricing at cost + 67%, which would retain a 40% gross margin.

Parts Sales Per Employee/Gross Profit Per Employee:

Industry Guideline: Sales: $45,000+/Gross Profit: $15,000+

ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline: Sales: 50,000+/Gross Profit: $20,000+

The reasoning behind this one is quite simple as the math doesn't lie. Our industry guideline math results in a 33% overall gross profit margin and we should be trying to achieve at least a 40% retained gross margin overall. The ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline does result in a 40% overall gross margin.

The other reason for the higher gross margin is now with most manufacturers having to pay full list on warranty parts, or a substantial "uplift" to dealers for those warranty parts, our target should be at least 40%. With exception given only to those few states that have not yet litigated for this warranty parts uplift, a 40%+ parts gross profit overall is achievable.

Lastly, and if anyone hasn't noticed yet...the cost of everything is going up. We are actually selling the same parts for more as all manufacturers have raised their prices this year at least once, if not more already. That means our Parts Staff is selling at higher price and higher gross with the same effort and number of transactions, and not necessarily selling more parts.

Lost Sales Reporting:

Industry Guideline: 5% - 10% of Total Parts Sales at Cost

ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline: 10% - 15%+ of Total Parts Sales at Cost

Actually, the industry guideline for Lost Sales Reporting has gone down over the past few years as the guideline for reporting Lost Sales used to be at 10%, but now has been reduced to 5% - 10% which does not make sense to me. In my opinion, Lost Sales should actually be called "Potential Missed Opportunities".

Lost Sales is a key component in recording "parts demand" along with parts sales. The more we record parts demand, the more we will see and be able to manage on potential parts that may phase into the Dealer Management System, (D.M.S.) The less demand we record, fewer parts will phase in, resulting in a lower inventory "breadth", or coverage.

Posting Lost Sales at a higher rate will result in better inventory coverage and defining what is a true Lost Sale is very simple. At the time of part inquiry is our best opportunity to post Lost Sales as one of the four following things will happen...

Number One: We have the part and we sell it, or...

Number Two: We don't have the part and we Special Order the part, or...

Number Three: We don't have the part and we have to chase the part, or...

Number Four: None of the above three happens and we post a Lost Sale.

Overall Fill Rate/Level of Service:

Industry Guideline: 90% - 95%

ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline: 85% - 90%

It may look like we are actually lowering the bar on this one, but that's not exactly true. First of all, Overall Fill Rate, (Level of Service in some D.M.S.'s) has a different definition than most may think. The Overall Fill Rate, (Level of Service) is defined as "Total Sales at Cost Minus Lost Sales at Cost".

All this category means is that we sold the part, whether today, tomorrow, next week or next year, minus any Lost Sales posted at cost. This is why the industry guideline is 90% - 95% because that's the opposite of the industry guideline for Lost Sales Reporting at 5% - 10%.

That being said, we could actually report no Lost Sales and the Overall Fill Rate, or Level of Service will show up the Parts Monthly Management Report as 99.9% or 100% Overall Fill Rate, or Level of Service. So, I guess in that case, we would look like a hero at 100% Fill Rate!

This also explains the ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline for Overall Fill Rate is at 85% - 90% as it too is the opposite of the 10% - 15% Lost Sales ACG Guideline. So even though the ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective is lower the industry guideline, the results are better.

On a side note, the most important fill rate to measure is the "First Time Off Shelf Fill Rate", which is the actual percentage of time the part is sold on first visit. That calculation cannot also be measured on the D.M.S. as it has to be calculated the old fashion way....

Total Sales of Normal Stocking Parts at Cost Minus Emergency Purchases at Cost

Stock Order Performance:

Industry Guideline: 75% - 85% of Total Parts Purchases at Cost

ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guideline: 75% - 85% of Total Parts Purchases at Cost

I agree with this industry guideline, but I wanted to put this one in because most Parts Departments will never achieve this guideline if they are only utilizing the manufacturer's Vendor Managed Inventory Programs, (V.M.I.) to replenish their stocking inventory. 

If we don't utilize our own D.M.S., (with the proper set ups of course by the math) in addition to the Manufacturer's V.M.I., the best we could ever achieve is a 50% - 55% Stock Order Performance as the Manufacturer's V.M.I. only covers approximately 50% - 55% of their total inventory breadth.

This guideline 75% - 85% should also be our guideline for our First Time Off Shelf Fill Rate as it only makes sense that if 75% - 85% of our parts should be ordered for stock replenishment and it's our guideline for Stock Order Performance, then we should be selling those Normal Stocking Parts at a rate of 75% - 85% as well.

There are many industry guidelines that I agree with and abide by, but I believe that these five industry guidelines not only can be attained, but they could also reach our ACG "Smart Parts" Perspective Guidelines as well. Sometimes it doesn't take much to make a difference and achieve higher levels of expectation.

To me, it's the "expectations" that we have on ourselves that allows us to achieve even higher levels and the first step to getting there is to realize that it's "Time To Raise The Bar!"

If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :

(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...







  






 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

August 2022: "Don't Take Your Foot Off The Gas!"

It has definitely been a whirl wind in our industry these past couple of years between the pandemic, shifts in the economy, supply chain issues and lower New Vehicle Production just to name a few. All the forementioned along with a lower work force participation rate, who would have thought that many dealers are experiencing their best years ever these last couple of years. 

The challenges have been great for sure, but as always, we adapt and move on in our industry. Profits have risen for sure along with our stress levels as we continue the battle of having so much work that we can't keep up with due to hiring issues and labor shortages.

With that said, the effects of these last couple of years taken into consideration, the job of the Parts Manager has never been tougher. The time spent alone chasing down many parts that are not easily accessible has taken up much of the time in the day for Parts Managers and their staff.

The pressure has never been greater as the needs of the customer to get their vehicle back on the road relies heavily on having the right part, or just trying to get the right parts to complete the job. Back that up with the pressure on the Service Department to have enough technicians to meet the increased demand adds up to a stress level we have never experienced before.

All the above mentioned is not news that we don't already know, but in my opinion, we have to separate what is out of our control and what is in our control. It seems that we tend to let what is out of our control actually control our thought process and our actions.

No matter what gets thrown at us, we have to maintain control and not let the outside environment stop us from doing the basic duties and tasks that the Parts Manager is responsible for. This is why the title of this month's issue is what it is..."Don't Take Your Foot Off The Gas!"

Every Parts Manager is facing the same issues, no matter who their manufacturer is, so rather then talking about the tales and woes of what we are facing, we will focus on what is in our control and get back to some of the basics of what we can do and not what we can't do.

That being said, let's get started and ask ourselves one simple question...

"What am I not doing that I should be doing no matter what the current environment is?"...

To set the stage, I did a little research on over 30 Dealership Parts Departments that are on our current Smart Parts On-Going Parts Training Program. Over 90% of these dealership Parts Departments are succeeding to be at or above parts industry guidelines in almost all categories.

Considering all that's going on in our current environment with backorder issues, supply chain issues, employee shortages, added time to chase parts that are not available whether parts restriction or cancellations, they are still getting it done.

So that brings me to this question...

"How are they getting it done when everyone else out there is complaining that they can't get parts?"

This is where the research began as I started to break down the Parts Manager's "good practices" that have never changed over the years and are in our control versus what's not in our control due to the results of our current industry environment which include parts shortages, supply chain issues, parts restrictions, employee shortages, etc.

The results were really not shocking to me, but they may be for others as we go down the list of what some Parts Managers are doing to get things done versus the ones that aren't. Even though we are truly working harder, we have to go further and work smarter. We also have to understand how Normal Stocking Parts get on the shelf in the first place.

"Is your foot on the gas, or off the gas?....here are four ways to find that answer for yourself...

Number One: Lost Sales Reporting/D.M.S. Utilization

Every single one of these successful Parts Managers continues to post Lost Sales at the industry guideline, or better of 5%-10% of total cost of sales. Posting Lost Sales is essential to picking up those added parts demands over and above the natural parts demand realized from parts sales.

Each one of these Parts Managers are also utilizing their own Dealer Management System, (D.M.S.) in addition to their Manufacturer's Vendor Managed Inventory, (V.M.I.). Therefore, posting Lost Sales can be an advantage as the extra demand posting from these Lost Sales allows for more parts to "phase-in" to the D.M.S., leading to more parts inventory "breadth".

Keep in mind though, if you are not utilizing your own D.M.S. and relying solely on the Manufacturer's V.M.I. such as RIM, ARO, PartsEye, etc. for Stocking Replenishment, it doesn't matter if you post Lost Sales or not as that information really doesn't get utilized if we are not running our own D.M.S. Stock Order for those parts not covered by the Manufacturer's V.M.I.

Posting Lost Sales only helps if you are running your own D.M.S. Stock Order in addition to the Manufacturer's V.M.I Stock Order as the Manufacturer's V.M.I. Stock Order only covers approximately 50%-55% of the Manufacturer's total inventory "breadth" with mostly A and B parts movement.

All the rest of what I call the "hard parts", or the "meaty parts" can only be picked up by the Dealer's D.M.S. with the proper Set Ups & Controls based on the math. In fact, during my research I found that dealers with Manufacturer's that did not provide a V.M.I., had a much better inventory "breadth" and experienced fewer back orders and parts restrictions because they already had the part on their shelf.

Number Two: Managing Back Orders/Restricted Parts/Supply Chain Issues

Our number two does have a long title, but all three of the above falls into the same category as to how the Smart Parts Manager actually "manages" those situations. Even though we are spending more time on the phones chasing parts more than ever, it doesn't change the fact that we still need to get the parts.

First of all, our job as Smart Parts Managers doesn't stop when we discover that the part is on backorder, restriction, unavailable until whenever, perhaps requires a VIN number to process the order, our job is actually just beginning. Having a mindset that we just can't get the part just makes matters worse.

Common sense tells me that somewhere out there, some other dealer or vendor has the part that is not available through normal supply chains. Also, we have to utilize all of our options, such as offering the customer with the aftermarket options in order to complete the repair and get the customer's vehicle back on the road.

But!...What About The Exceptions!...

Of course, in every situation there are going to be exceptions and that's what I hear about the most from our Smart Parts Managers. Exceptions such as warranty situations that require a factory only part to complete the job with no parts availability and no expected delivery date until whenever.

Keep in mind that we have always had these exceptions and that's why we call them exceptions in the first place. Yes, perhaps we are experiencing more of these exceptions than we ever have, but for the most part, we can go much further to reduce these situations.

That's where the right mindset comes into play as we need to focus more on what we can do versus what we can't and stop complaining about the exceptions to the rule because there will always be exceptions, it's just a matter of how many we have to deal with each day.

For example, often times I've seen where a part is on back order and all I had to do was upgrade or change the order type to get that part. Or perhaps I may have to find the part on OEConnect, or some other Locator and pay more for it, but in the long run, I will make more gross "dollars" once the job is completed.

I was actually shocked to find that many Parts Managers would not go the extra mile because it was going to hurt their parts gross margin. These Parts Managers, to me, are not getting it and are not looking at the big picture as I can't spend a gross margin, but I can spend gross dollars.

Number Three: Parts Staffing Needs

Since the beginning of the pandemic and due to other economic reasons, we have experienced a much lower work force participation rate and we all know that. Although, we may or may not know that over the last couple years, we have seen more and more workers that are in the work force changing jobs and/or careers for higher wages and income.

Most people in the work force know that employers from every aspect and field are looking for employees who want to work. That being said, more and more people are looking for work, but they may want higher wages and salaries due to economic reasons.

So, I guess my question is that if we know this already, then why are we letting our people and staff walk away to other dealerships? Just like everything else nowadays, everything is going up and that includes employee wages and we have to pay them if we want to keep them.

As a matter of fact, parts people in the aftermarket generally make less wages and salaries than the average parts counter person does in the automotive parts dealership which gives us an advantage to try and recruit, hire and train these parts people from the aftermarket parts stores.

It's our job as managers to make up the gross due to the higher cost of business, which includes our employees. Problem is, many, many managers and owners have a fixed cost in their mind of what a person is worth and that's the problem. For example, I think a gallon of gas is worth about $2.00 - $2.50 a gallon, but that's not what I'm actually paying today.

Who would have thought we would be getting the price for Used Vehicles today with more front and back gross than ever before. That goes for the people in the work force today as they know this and they will shop other opportunities if they have to just to survive our current economy.

Down the road, things may change, but one thing for sure is that we have to keep up with the times as they are and stop having a mindset that is outdated. People will work for a decent wage and they won't shop other opportunities if we just pay them what the going rates and trends dictate. As managers and owners, we are the ones that are responsible for sales and gross to expected industry guidelines.

One last comment and example on our Number Three...

I recently visited a dealer that was complaining that they couldn't find any help, (no surprise!) and they said they couldn't afford what people were asking for as far as wages, from Parts Staffing Wages to Technician Flat Rate Wages, etc.....sound familiar?

Not surprisingly though as this same dealer had not raised a simple oil change price or any other maintenance menu item in over five years, no adjustments to parts pricing and matrix as far back as he could remember, and his Service Customer Effective Rate was the same as it has been for over five years. Last I knew...a lot of things have gone up over the years...

"If you can't afford to pay, then I guess you can't afford to play"...

Number Four: Managing Proper Stocking Levels

Managing the right Stocking Level on all Normal Stocking Parts also goes beyond just utilizing the Manufacturer's V.M.I. as the information they receive to have the right Stocking Level comes from our own Dealer Management System.

So, as the old saying goes..."Garbage In, Garbage Out" and if the dealer's D.M.S. Set Ups & Controls aren't accurate based on the math, we will end up having too much of what we don't need and not enough of what we do need. This will amplify the problems we are already having with backorders, supply chain issues, restricted parts, etc.

So now, it goes well beyond the "exceptions" I mention above because we are now running out of the most common, fast-moving parts and that has never happened before! We have always had the fast-moving parts such as filters, wiper blades, brake pads, etc.

We are now running out of the simplest parts that should never be an issue, but due to all the above mentioned, we are having to scramble to buy even oil filters from other dealers, or aftermarket vendors. Back in the day, we actually stocked "too many" fast-moving parts with more overstock than we really needed as "lead times" and "fill rates" were never a problem.

We need to rely on our own D.M.S. and also have to know how to use it when it comes down to Managing Stocking Levels and doing the math. When Supply Chains and Shortages happen, we can "turn the switch up" on our Best Stocking Levels, or High Days Supply to carry our Stocking Levels further out to accommodate longer lead times.

If we are relying solely on the Manufacturer to supply us based on their recommendations, and/or we don't utilize our own D.M.S. with the right Set Ups & Controls, then we will run out, it's that simple. If we utilize our own D.M.S. with the right math, the Manufacturer will emulate our D.M.S. and provide the right Stocking Levels on their qualified parts as well as.

The biggest problem with Supply Chain Issues, Part Shortages, Restricted Parts, etc. is that many Parts Managers don't know how to make the appropriate modifications to their D.M.S. in their Best Reorder Points, or High Days Supply. These increased lead time changes alone caused by Supply Chain Issues will cause "stock out" situations.

Quite simply, if my system is designed to carry the right parts for a specific amount of days, and then those normal stocking days get interrupted by increased lead times from supply chain issues, or perhaps from a different supply warehouse that takes longer to get... then wouldn't it seem obvious that I need to make the appropriate adjustments in my D.M.S.?...seems pretty simple to me...

The above four areas are what supplies the fuel that keeps the parts engine running and if we don't have the fuel, we can't keep our foot on the gas in providing the best service for our customers. If we don't utilize all the tools in our tool box, then the results will not change during these times. We will always be running on half a tank of fuel and at half the speed limit...

We can either watch what happens, wonder what happened, or we can make things happen. One thing for sure though, if you want to get through it..."Don't Take You Foot Off The Gas!"

If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :

(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...





Tuesday, July 5, 2022

July 2022: Managing The Tire & Gas, Oil, Grease Inventories

Managing any inventory is a task in itself, but when it comes down to managing the Parts Inventory in the automotive dealership, it can be even more diverse. In the automotive industry, and for years, the Parts Inventory has been broken down into three separate inventories.

These three parts inventories, especially from an accounting standpoint, has always been the main parts inventory, the tire inventory and the gas, oil & grease inventory, (G.O.G.). Although, some dealers today have actually combined all three of these parts inventories into one main parts inventory.

Most Dealer Financial Statements have this separation of parts inventories on the first page of the Financial which is called the "Balance Sheet". Some manufacturers even have Accessories separated on the first page. Much like the separation of the New & Used Vehicle Inventories, they are all listed as "assets".

Before we get down to the reason of this separation of Parts Inventories, let's break down some of the facts, or "differences" in the parts Main Inventory, Tire Inventory and the Gas, Oil & Grease Inventory. As a matter of fact, "back in the day", dealers actually had gas on sight, which was part of the Gas, Oil & Grease Inventory to fuel their New & Used Vehicle Inventory.

Here are some of the facts on the differences of these parts inventories, then we will get into the reasons for the separation....

Main Parts Inventory:

The Main Parts Inventory carries the bulk of the overall parts inventory value and most of the part numbers in the overall inventory. Also, the Main Parts Inventory also carries the largest life span of parts with more consistent overall demand over time.

The Main Parts Inventory requires different criteria on Parts Phase-In, Phase-Out, Stocking Levels and Pricing Strategies. Lost Sales play a huge part in the Main Parts Inventory initial demand set ups on parts Phase-In to record overall demand compared to the lower Lost Sales demand on tires and oil.

Lost Sales are hardly ever recorded on Tires and Oil, although Lost Sales should be recorded on tires as they tend to have more part numbers than oil and far many more vehicle applications. Tires should be considered as regular part numbers, even though they should be separated from the Main Parts Inventory.

Tire Inventory:

The Tire Inventory has far many more obstacles and concerns to overcome. First and foremost, tires take up a lot of space and weight which requires not only space requirements, but they also require safety considerations when storing them. Along with the expected lower gross margins and shorter life span, tires can be literally "a pain in the butt" for Parts Managers.

Although, from the Service side of things and from a retention standpoint, tires are essential to keep our customers coming back to the dealership. Selling tires, much like selling a basic Lube, Oil & Filter are the two primary services that lead to keeping our customers coming back.

Tires are also always changing designs and superseding to an upgraded tire which requires updating tire inventory constantly. As a matter of fact, it is most likely that the tire that came with your new vehicle will be replaced by an upgraded tire by the time of replacement. 

Gas, Oil & Grease:

Oil is the highest volume part number sale in the whole parts inventory, even though oil has the lowest inventory of part numbers in the parts inventory. Oil also is never considered as a part that will ever go obsolete. On the contrary, oil can be the highest asset purchase risk in our entire parts inventory.

Oil can't be returned and is an environmental risk while occupying valuable inventory space forever once it becomes obsolete. Are there any vehicles utilizing 10W-40 oil any more, or an even better question: Does anyone still have 10W-40 in their inventory? Oil is ours once we purchase it and will most likely stay where it's at right now.

"So!...What Are The Reasons For Separating These Inventories?"

Let's look at the reasons...

Reason Number One: Reconciliation

First and foremost, the Gas, Oil & Grease Inventory is the toughest one of the three to keep reconciled to correct amounts between the Accounting Ledger and Controlled Inventory Amounts each month and year. Bulk oil is the biggest culprit as varied amounts are pumped out each day.

Receipting oil is also a problem as often times oil is receipted into one inventory and then sold from another inventory. The sales and cost of sales accounts must be linked correctly with the proper parts source or stocking group to insure proper reconciliation.

Tires also fall into this category as parts may be purchased as a part and receipted into the main parts inventory and then sold from the tire inventory. Most invoices from the manufacturer on both oil and tires allow for the dealer to receipt to either the main inventory, or the other two.

Reason Number Two: Inventory Aging

Oil and Tires age much differently than the parts in the main parts inventory, especially tires as the life span is much shorter. That being said, tires require different set ups as far as Phase-In, Phase-Out and overall Stocking Levels. Tires need to especially have a shorter Phase-Out timeline as tires tend to supersede to updated part numbers.

Also, tires only come around for replacement approximately 24 - 36 months so they are especially hard to track for consistent sales demand. That being said, it's very unlikely that we get return tire business from the same customer. It's much better to capture initial tire sales and then let them Phase-Out after six to nine months.

Believe it or not, oil can also go obsolete as most parts managers keep refilling the tanks until one day, the manufacturers come out with a new grade of oil to meet new emission and fuel conservation requirements, or regulations. At that point, we are stuck with what we have left in the tank with no options to get rid of it.

Number Three: Inventory Discrepancies

Even though it's our number three reason for separating these inventories, it's probably the most important reason. Oil is the number one reconciled inventory of all the inventories because it has the highest individual unit of sales by quantity.

It also has the most "crossover" inventory accounting between the main parts inventory and the gas, oil & grease inventory. Packaged oil may be considered a part while bulk oil may be considered gas, oil & grease and they may even have the same part number. We could have 0W-20 oil in bulk and packaged in two separate inventories.

Tires may also fall into this same category as we may purchase tires from the manufacturer and is receipted and sold as a part. We can also purchase tires from the local tire vendor and those tires get receipted and sold out of the tire inventory.

Crossover accounting from the main parts inventory, the tire inventory and gas, oil & grease inventory happens all the time and creates an accounting nightmare in many dealerships. If only one main inventory is used for three of these inventories, it is much harder to "trap" overall parts inventory discrepancies.

The Bottom Line:

With all of the above facts and reasons mentioned above, the separation of these three inventories seems pretty obvious. It may be easier for accounting to have them all looped into one inventory, but when a problem, or a huge discrepancy occurs after the physical inventory is performed, no one is happy.

Also, a physical inventory can be performed on the tire inventory and the gas, oil & grease inventory to reconcile the Accounting Ledger Inventory and the Controlled Parts Inventory on the D.M.S. each month to control any discrepancies.

Unless we are performing Perpetual Inventories on the main parts inventory, we can't count our main parts inventory each month, but we can "trap" most of these most common discrepancies that happen mostly in the tire inventory and the gas, oil & grease inventory.

If we are just waiting until the end of each year when most perform their annual physical parts inventory to deal with these discrepancies, we are just leaving ourselves open to surprises that may not be in our favor...

If you want to learn more about ACG Smart Parts "Eight Habits of Highly Successful Parts Managers", visit our website @ www.smartpartstraining.com, or...just pick up the phone and call me at :

(786) 521 - 1720...After all, not knowing is not worth not "fixing" it...