Wednesday, 31 May 2006 17:00

Parts dept banks on personnel; modern fulfillment process

Written by Karyn Hendricks

The parts business is not the sexiest aspect of the collision repair industry - no fancy paint jobs or tribal flames painted on the car. But if efficiency gets you going, take a look at Elk Grove VW and Audi, a member of the Lasher Automotive Group. Elk Grove has developed a state-of-the-art fulfillment procedure and efficient parts distribution system encompassing the entire Sacramento area -- and beyond. 

The Volkswagen dealership, opened by Wes Lasher in downtown Sacramento in 1955, was the first jewel in the Lasher crown.

"We have been a VW dealership for over 60 years," explained A.J. Killian, parts manager for Elk Grove VW and Audi. "Since 2003, we have been located in a brand new, two-story facility at the Elk Grove Auto Mall. The large inventory of collision repair parts is managed with a conveyor belt that expedites staging orders for distribution."

Killian's reach spreads beyond the Sacramento area. Ben Story, speaking for Bill Pearce Body Shop in Reno, explained that he had worked with the Lasher group in Sacramento and they can still accommodate his needs out of state.

"A.J. runs a fine organization. As a parts specialist, I'm from that side of the counter. I can immediately recognize when a vendor to a body shop is doing their job efficiently. Elk Grove goes above and beyond. As a body shop, the most important need is the part, followed by information. Killian's team provides that.

Parts distribution system

The parts delivery system, which is shared by all the Lasher Elk Grove dealerships, is basic, yet effective. Four drivers take off in four different directions to cover the areas around Sacramento. A fifth driver covers everything local and hot runs that come up suddenly.

This is particularly convenient for a customer such as Cook's Collision, which has six collision repair centers in the metro areas serviced by Elk Grove VW and Audi.

Managers' input

When first designing the Elk Grove locations, the managers were asked for input as to how to set up the facilities. The result is a place to stage orders, a large roll up door, a dedicated workstation for two wholesale people to work away from interruptions and - room to grow. The previous facility had parts spread out in three different buildings - not very efficient.

"Management was very receptive to the ideas that were put forth," continued Killian. "Getting the conveyor belt and the freight access door were major accomplishments.

Killian has been with the Lasher group since February 1986, having been with VW-Audi since 1978. "I have experience with other car lines, but my passion lies with VW and Audi."

Most of the staff members drive VWs and Audis. Moreover, they are enthusiasts. The dealership hosts car

club activities for Deutsch Stahl and SAC Water. The staff can relate to VW and Audi owners who tend to be passionate about their vehicles. Owning a VW or Audi is more than just a hobby - it is a way of life and a passion. Employees who know the product can better serve the customer.

"We have a very low turnover rate within the staff. It is our policy to promote from within. Guys who started out sweeping the shop are now working the desks. We are very loyal to our staff and they are loyal to us," Killian stated.

"On our staff we have two people who are the contacts for the collision repair shops. Parts consultant Jalene Welch is a female in a man's industry. At first some accounts were skeptical and now they won't deal with anyone else. She is detail-oriented and does an excellent job of relating to clients. Equally popular with clients is Chris Herrick, who was a VW parts manager in his past."

In the neighborhood

Eric Kohler, co-owner of Dwayne Body and Paint, has done business with Elk Grove VW and Audi since April 2003. "I like to do business with vendors in my neighborhood and Elk Grove fits the bill.

"Their drivers are always the first vendor here in the morning. They do a good job and I stay with them because they live up to their reputation. It's good to stick with somebody you have a good relationship. Jalene does an exceptional job. She is very thorough and understands the importance of having the parts we need when we are ready for them. She communicates with us if there is a problem, and does not stop until it is resolved."

Pierce added, "Jalene will always take the extra step. She knows what accessories go with each part and makes recommendations to assure each order is complete. She always double checks. Shops need that kind of an ally on their side. Early identification of necessary parts helps the repair shop meet its cycle time obligations."

Community participation

Elk Grove VW and Audi is also active in supporting the community and schools. They sponsor the Hole in One contest at the annual St. Peter's School golf tournament. For the Elk Grove Western Festival, they participate and put a car in the parade. The dealership donates money to the athletic departments of St. Michael's, St. Franics and Jesuit high schools; participates in the Salvation Army toy drive; and donates to Project Ride for senior transportation.


Last modified on Friday, 02 December 2016 23:59