Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Get Tuned In and Get Tuned Up"!

As mentioned in our introduction of our February 2014 edition of "Smart Parts", we will be exploring into present and future marketing strategies. In order to accomplish this task and be successful, there are many factors we have to examine. 

Not only do we have to have a marketing plan or "strategy", we also have to have a strong foundation. Thus, our two part segment titled: "Get Tuned In and Get Tuned Up!"

Let's get started!

"Get Tuned In!"....

It is obviously no surprise to anyone of us how social media has impacted our lives and means of communication over the past few years. It is getting stronger and more powerful as each day passes in terms of how we conduct our business and more importantly, our marketing strategies.

Social media has become one of, if not the most preferred means of marketing products and services. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter and many others have become the new "information highway" by reaching millions of people, especially when it comes to staying in touch and retaining your customer base.

With all this said, we first have to determine who our target base is, or audience. What are we really trying to sell? Are we just getting our brand name out there and hoping for success?

What products, services or customers will we target? How will we measure our success and most important...Return on Investment?

In my opinion, there are only a few "bases" from a Parts Department stand point in taking advantage of our social media outlets. Let me explain further....

First, one of the most popular reasons to utilize social media in the Parts Department is expand the customer base to eliminate obsolete or idle inventory. Social media is also a great outlet to increase accessory sales for both the Sales, Service & Parts Departments.

Secondly, high volume parts dealers can also take advantage as parts sales are beginning to replicate new vehicle sales. Many sacrifice lower "up front" profits in order to gain higher volume purchase discounts and incentives.

Maybe even all of the above...reduced obsolescence, higher volume discounts and profits!

Overall market share can also be impacted by the right plan of attack. Increased effort and investment on individual dealer websites, shared networks, web search engines, space and priority can further the overall impact.

The third one is, in my opinion the most important....customer retention. Both of the above scenarios, or reasons for utilizing social media is extremely important in maximizing profits and reducing "frozen assets".

Keeping in close contact with your customers and retaining the base has to be the number one reason to utilize social media as a primary resource.

Along with social media, there are many companies that network individual dealer inventories to maximize exposure, reduce obsolete/idle inventory as well as increasing potential market share.

Companies such as Ebay & Parts Voice, eCommerce, Dealermine, Amazon and D2D Link are all reputable resources. 

"Getting Tuned In" requires the right approach, action plan and most important...the right target base and audience.

"Getting Tuned Up!"

Even though we need to "Get Tuned In" with social media and the right action plan, we have to ask ourselves..."Is my house in order?" Or even better...Am I ready to "Get Tuned In?"

Many dealers' seek assistance from outside sources and social media to get rid of obsolescence or idle inventory. If this is your particular situation, you have to ask yourself how you got in this position in the first place.

Before even developing an action plan that involves social media or an outside resource, you need to "stop the bleeding" first!

One of my most popular questions that I like to ask Parts Managers is..."When was the last time you looked at your D.M.S. (Dealer Management System) Set Ups & Controls?" Over 90% of the time I get a response like..."I don't remember!..."

Phase-In/Phase-Out Criteria, Days Supply, Source Ranking by Piece Sales and Matrix Pricing are just a few of the basic Set Ups & Controls that need to be reviewed at least two or three times a year.

On the subject of Matrix Pricing for example, if I would ask any Parts Manager out there..."What price cost range does at least 80% of your sales come from?"...What would I get for an answer? If you want the answer to that one, just send me an email!...

Maximizing parts profit on "captive parts" is one of our biggest opportunities where the only competition is like branded franchises, excluding aftermarket vendors.

"Tuning Up" our Part Matrix and Source Ranking by Piece Sales allows maximized profits while remaining competitive.

One other Set Up that is extremely important is having the proper Days Supply in each individual parts source. It is sad to say, but there are many Parts Managers out there that do not even know how to calculate Days Supply properly.

If Obsolescence or Idle Inventory is a situation in your store, I would highly recommend reviewing the Phase-In/Phase-Out Parameters in each source.

One word of caution....many manufacturers "out source" vendors to change these parameters in order to satisfy manufacturer sponsored stock replenishment programs. 

Even though inventory protection may be offered, subsequent costs may be in sued by the dealer as we discussed in last month's issue of "Smart Parts". (O.E.M. Stock Replenishment Programs: "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly")

Looking ahead, it is quite obvious that we have entered into a new era of marketing, networking and competition.

Our business is not getting any easier and, in my opinion, the strong will survive as long as the house is in order and the targets are in sight!

Need to "Get Tuned Up?"...check out previous issues of "Smart Parts" online @, or request a FREE Parts Department Evaluation!

Dave Piecuch is the Vice President of Automotive Consultants Group Inc. and is the Head Coach for Smart PartsTMThe only "Results Based" High Return Training, Coaching, and Consulting company in the world!  Dave can be reached at Cell 786-521-1720 or E-mail at Vist our Website at