Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Ultimate Parts Manager: Part One

Over the past three months, we looked at how the Parts Manager's position has evolved with change over the years. Quite honestly, we have all had to adapt to change over the years with advances in technology, increased customer demands and an ever changing market place just to name a few.

In part one of our three part series, we will begin the process of breaking down what it takes to be the "Ultimate Parts Manager" today. Unlike many years ago, in my opinion, today's Parts Manager has to have a different variety of qualifications and skill sets in order to be successful.

So let's begin by building  a "resume" of these qualifications and skill sets that make up the "Ultimate Parts Manager". In addition to our resume, as we are building it, we will put each qualification and skill set into it's proper application.

Here We Go!!....

Education & Background

In our first category, the the right combination of education and experience is required, even though a college degree is not. As I told both my children when they achieved their Master's Degrees and were ready to venture off on their new careers...."Now, you are qualified to learn...."

Even though we gain our education in various ways whether by going on to college or just learning as we go, we all had to start somewhere to develop our skills, abilities and to gain knowledge.

All of these three can be acquired through training, but the only one that can't be trained is desire, an absolute "must" qualification for the "Ultimate Parts Manager" 

I believe the "Ultimate Parts Manager" must first have experience working in the Parts Department to get a "feel" of the parts operation and the role it plays in the automotive dealership.

This role can be any role, beginning from shipper/receiver, inventory clerk, counter person, or even eventually leading up to Assistant Parts Manager.

Along the way up this ladder, knowledge can be obtained through learning on the job as well as attending dealer and manufacturer sponsored training courses. This combination of "on the job" training, (O.J.T.), and dealer and/or manufacturer training courses are initial ingredients for the "Ultimate Parts Manager" resume.

In addition, today's "Ultimate Parts Manager" has to have the proper computer skills which were not required many years ago. "Mastering" the D.M.S., (Dealer Management System), is not the only area of computer expertise required for Parts Managers today.

The "Ultimate Parts Manager" has to be able to navigate the Internet and acquire the skill, ability and knowledge in areas such as Microsoft Office Word, Excel, Power Point and Outlook just to name a few.

Let's also not forget the importance of maintaining the parts portion of the dealers website on a consistent basis. Over time, this combination of ingredients has a chance to develop and master all these new skills gained from the beginning.

The Parts Manager learns through attrition, making mistakes and learning from those mistakes as well as learning from other Parts Managers. I don't know of any successful Parts Managers that I have met over the years that didn't have at least one mentor.

The saddest thing that I often see is that dealers do not "invest" in their Parts Managers enough on these required ingredients.They have a tendency to invest more in their Sales Managers, F & I Managers and Service Managers than they do with their Parts Managers.

Lastly, on this category, I can highly recommend manufacturer sponsored business courses, if available. I was fortunate enough to graduate from G.M.I., General Motors Institute on both Parts and Service. Getting a business education "specifically" designed for our industry is "second to none".

Belief System

This second category in building our resume for the the "Ultimate Parts Manager" is as crucial as our first. Without the proper education, background and "belief system", the Parts Manager will most likely never achieve their ultimate potential.

The "Ultimate Parts Manager" has to have the right "belief system" in managing the Parts Department. In most dealerships, the Parts Manager controls the dealer's second highest asset next to Used Vehicles. The dealer has to entrust the Parts Manager in getting his best return on investment.

With that said, the Parts Manager has to utilize the Dealer Management System, (D.M.S.) to it's fullest extent in order to get the most out of the system.

 I have met so many Parts Managers over the years that do not use proper posting procedures leading to false information on the Parts Monthly Analysis Report. As the old saying goes...."garbage in, garbage out"!

The "Ultimate Parts Manager" believes in the right Set Ups & Controls and has full knowledge on Phase-In/Phase Out Parameters, Days Supply, Source Ranking and Parts Matrix Escalations, etc. More importantly, he or she knows how to manage these Set Ups & Controls properly.

Sadly, too many Parts Managers do not know, or have not been trained in these areas and end up working for their D.M.S. system, instead of the D.M.S. working for them. Without the proper knowledge or training, one can only expect less than desired results in all areas from sales to obsolescence.

If the Parts Manager does not have the right belief system, more damage can be done to a dealer than they could even imagine.

Not reporting Lost Sales, Emergency Purchases, Customer Orders and Stock Orders properly could lead to more obsolescence and Incorrect Off Shelf Fill Rates. Service Productivity, Customer Retention & Satisfaction are also negatively effected by this improper belief system.

Lastly, the Parts Managers attitude, behavior patterns and overall motivation are huge contributors to their overall belief system.

Next month, we will explore:
  • What kind of personality does it take to be the "Ultimate Parts Manager?" 
  • How does it effect the overall performance of the Parts Department? 
  • What "leaderships" skills are in the "Ultimate Parts Manager's" resume?
 We will also look at how this "superstar" handles interdepartmental relationships, negotiations as well as their overall leadership ability.

Stay tuned next month as we continue building the "Ultimate Parts Manager's" resume!...and who knows?...we may just be featuring some of our "Smart Parts" Readers out there!  

 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