Wednesday, 06 June 2007 10:15

Parts department focuses on wholesale operations and draws from $8 million inventory

Written by Michelle DeCrescenzo

    Twenty miles southwest of Houston, Texas lays the city of Sugar Land. Founded as a sugar plantation in the 1800s, it is now a full service municipality and home to Bill Heard Chevrolet. The parts department at Bill Heard delivers well beyond the city walls, and the staff of 41 makes it their mission to accommodate each and every customer.

Free overnight delivery

    With a 100-mile delivery radius, Bill Heard boasts of free overnight delivery to most of Texas and areas of Louisiana. Fifteen local delivery drivers are contracted daily to cover the large radius around Houston. Overnight delivery reaches Corpus Christi and into the Golden Triangle. Overnight parts deliveries make it as far as Shreve-port and New Orleans Louisiana, and 2- day deliveries travel the 900-miles to El Paso, Texas.
    “The biggest way to service customers is by not charging freight to get the parts out there,” said assistant manager Bill Blankenship. “We don’t charge anything to our customers and we absorb the cost to our co-op. That’s how we offer a very competitive price.”
Focus on wholesale and powertrain
    Parts manager Kenny Williams oversees the 65,000 square foot warehouse. He has been with the company for 12 years, serving first  as assistant

manager and then becoming parts manager in 2003. Williams recruited Blankenship as assistant manager a year and a half ago.
    “We’ve made a lot of progress in the last year,” Blankenship said. “We want to be number one in powertrain in the country, and right now we’re on the top layers.”
    The parts department draws from $4.2 million dollars of parts onsite, coupled with an additional $4 million from its sister store. Wholesale manager Mark Arnold keeps close tabs on the inventory. Seventy percent of profit is derived from wholesale operations.
    “We participate in all the GM truck load purchasing program – you buy large quantities of each part on the program and that way if there’s ever a lull in production, we have it stocked,” Arnold said. “Some dealers might stock one hood, and sell one, and then have 0. Then they have to order it and wait a few days. We can just pull one off the shelf.”

    Bill Heard stocks an extensive line of OEM parts with a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty on most GM parts. Powertrain warranties are for the period of three years or 100,000 miles.
    The parts department also stocks a line of CAPA certified aftermarket parts. Warranties cover all pieces for the lifetime of the part.
Phone sales
    While online orders account for 10-15 percent of the business, the majority of sales come through the phone. There are two outside sales associates who support the team. They can make visits to shops to solicit new business and put the customers in touch with the parts department.
    When a new customer is secured, keeping them is a top priority. Hence, customer service is key at Bill Heard. “That’s the most important thing that’s going to  separate you from the competition,” Blankenship said. The sales team makes it a point to return phone calls quickly and inject a bit of personality in each phone call.
    “That’s why the customer doesn’t use the Internet frequently, they like talking to us, and we like talking to them. That’s what makes the relationship tick,” Blankenship said. “If they need a part, they know you are the go-to guy. And we’ve got a room full of go-to guys.”
Giving back
    Blankenship commends Bill Heard Chevrolet for their strong efforts to reward employees and make everyone feel like they are part of a family. At the annual Christmas party, the company rents a hotel and hosts a grand soiree.
    The parts department holds events as well, and the entire team has plans to go deep-sea fishing on a 90-foot party boat. To reward the team for increased sales, the parts department holds awards nights complete with dinner at a nice restaurant.
    The community benefits as well. Bill Heard Chevrolet regularly sponsors Lions Clubs events and golf tournaments. Die-cast collectibles and jackets are often donated as auction items to local organizations and Bill Heard is a proud sponsor of First Colony Little League baseball.

At a glance 

Bill Heard Chevrolet
13115 Southwest Freeway
Sugar Land, Texas 77487
(800) 304-4249, toll-free
(281) 494-7273, local
(281) 491-8266, fax

Last modified on Friday, 02 December 2016 23:36