Helping ensure the success of that mission for the parts department at Buerge Chrysler-Jeep is Assistant Manager Phil Krueger. A French car buff as a kid, he comes from unique automotive roots. It was no surprise that his first job was at Renault USA in the parts section of the distributor. Ultimately, Krueger ended up at Buerge where he has stayed for the past 20 years. While knowledgeable about all things Mopar and the current Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep products, he is well versed in parts for Renault, AMC and the late and lamented Plymouth.
In his role at Buerge, Krueger is responsible for inventory management, process control and recordkeeping. He manages a $1.3 million Mopar parts inventory for all makes of auto that use Mopar parts. Buerge is the fourth largest Chrysler-Jeep Mopar Parts Dealership in the country, the largest in California. With 700,000 parts in the Ford inventory, it is one of the largest and oldest suppliers. To accommodate this large inventory, parts are stored in an off-site warehouse.
Buerge has long embraced the most cutting edge technology. Krueger explained, “We always try to have the latest computer tools to do a better job. Many dealerships have basic functions but not the latest programs to sort deliveries and track them. We have developed custom programs to track deliveries and coordinate our eleven delivery trucks. Advanced functions sort deliveries and track them.
“We subscribe to CollisionLink so shops can send us their orders electronically, saving trees and time. Buerge participates in the AIG OE Dealer Collision Discount Program and State Farm’s Dealer Expansion Collision Program to further give customers the best service possible. Also available is Chrysler’s “Conquest” aftermarket price matching program which allows Buerge to sell OE Mopar fascias, bumpers, headlamps, tail light assemblies, hoods and fenders at aftermarket prices.”
As a full service dealer, Buerge stocks over 300 OE tires and 250 OE windshields and backlights as well as a full line of factory accessories.
An unusual aspect of this parts department is that certain unique parts are sold through E-Bay. A part or accessory that is not used much in California may be desperately needed in Indiana. E-Bay provides an opportunity to find a buyer for these niche parts.
In spite of its large size and purchase power, Buerge is not immune from current economic conditions. The recent increase in gasoline prices has put a lot of pressure on the dealership. Delivery costs have increased by over $7,000 each month in the last 18 months.
Mopar Masters Guild
“I attribute a lot of our success to our membership in the Mopar Masters Guild,” continued Krueger. “For 17 years, the top Mopar Parts managers from all over the country have met once a year at the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) convention. The meetings are inspirational and keep us working to constantly improve our service.”
Their motto is: “The exchange of information by like-size dealers in a non-competitive environment.” Members of the guild work closely together, exchanging parts and information back and forth. The top 80 parts managers across the country meet each year. Vendors demonstrate new products. Chrysler executives come and consult with guild members. Supported by Chrysler, the Mopar Masters Guild is a win-win deal.
Over 22 people handle all aspects of parts sales to ensure Buerge lives up to its reputation for quality service. There are seven wholesale salesmen, four or five employees in shipping and receiving, along with other salesmen at retail and service drive counters. Guillermo Nava is parts department manager for both the Chrysler-Jeep and Ford stores. Carl Hauck is the Ford assistant parts manager.
An outside salesman calls on wholesale accounts and keeps the Buerge name in front of people. The outside salesperson brings around promotional items with the Buerge name to add a little oomph to the word of mouth. Through a new Chrysler program, based on sales, financial assistance is available for marketing efforts. Phone marketing and advertising have been effective.
The people at Buerge truly make the difference. Moon Chung, owner, Mac Body and Paint, La Brea, deals with a lot of different dealerships for parts, but he cannot say enough positive things about Buerge Chrysler-Jeep parts department, especially the wholesale team. “The excellent service consistently provided by Buerge should not go unnoticed. I like to speak with certain people when I order parts and the Buerge wholesale team is one of my favorite parts team. They always seem relaxed and willing to help.
“With Buerge, parts orders always go smoothly. We fax over our orders and then they call us to let us know they received the order and go over the parts we need. They make sure enough parts are available to complete each job.
“Buerge’s wholesale team can take care of any problems that arise. I appreciate having part specialists to work with who are knowledgeable about the various parts we need. I know a lot of parts guys and Buerge’s team is number one.”
For many years Buerge Motor Car Company has sponsored a charity golf tournament benefitting the Palisades-Malibu YMCA at the Malibu Country Club. Many customers participate and it is always a great day.
Buerge Motor Car Company was recently the presenting sponsor of the Palisades Fourth of July parade. Twenty-five thousand spectators had a chance to see the new Dodge Challenger, Dodge Viper and the Chrysler Aspen hybrid.
Past and future
The parts department has grown immensely over the years. Now consistently in the top ten nationwide, in the early days the parts department was not even in the top 100.
“Our success is a result of having an excellent team. The quality of our sales people, accuracy, large inventory and resources provided by Buerge are what we have at our disposal to provide great services for our customers. We give special attention to customer service.,” said Krueger. “This job always has something new to get interested in. I see getting to implement new products as an asset.
“Tightening up parts return procedures is a major challenge. Policies which used to be relatively loose are now very strict. The allowances for parts returns is so low that companies are struggling to manage returns without upsetting our customers and keeping our business profitable for us.”
What hasn’t changed is that parts are expensive. It is important to keep the inventory fresh, while trying not to order unnecessary parts.
The collision repair industry will continue to change over the next five to ten years. Another significant challenge will be for Ford and Chrysler to support customers so they stay loyal to the brand. This is a difficult proposition since it will be at least a year or two before these companies have new environmentally friendly products to meet demand.
The Buerge Motor Car Company evolved from the oldest Ford franchise in Los Angeles starting back in 1915. In the 1930s the Buerge family joined the Walker family, who were the original proprietors, by purchasing one half of the business. This partnership continued until 1982 when the Walker family sold their remaining interest in the company to the Buerge family.
Today Buerge Motor Car Company remains family owned and operated including the original Ford franchise along with Chrysler-Jeep. Three generations of the Buerge family and dedicated employees have worked hard to deliver the kind of personal service customers expect and deserve.