I offer you an example, an organization that has not just survived, but has grown steadily based on their customer service. Lasher Auto Group in Elk Grove, CA is an excellent example of the rewards of good service. AJ Killian, the parts manager, was determined to stay active even when others were cutting back or even closing. He now offers eight full time delivery vehicles covering the greater Sacramento area.
This is no sudden success; it has come slowly over the last eight years. Steady, reliable service enabled AJ and his partner customers to grow even in the hardest times. He talked to me about his operation, and I pass along some of his ideas here.
Quicker loading of his delivery trucks happens with a drive-through system that avoids congestion.
AJ handles all the stocking orders, but delegates the customer orders for better service. VW, Honda, and Chrysler programs assist him when Insurance Company demands create excessive use of non-OEM parts. Hopefully other manufacturers will follow their lead, and also help their dealer body to compete.
Separate inventories, approaching 1.5 Million, but with combined facilities, for more efficiency.
Expanding when necessary, watching driver over-time for clues, and always having a spare delivery vehicle available.
Trucks routinely deliver within 35 miles, and a scheduled delivery even goes 125 miles for some very special customers.
AJ has two full time parts representatives, and visits his customers whenever he can.
AJ belongs to the California Autobody Association, and attends their meetings.
All of these ideas have one thing in common, they all relate to customer service. All the dealers who failed their customers, several in this area, are now closed. I believe that the continuing increase in this dealers business is due to overall attitude. Positive attitudes will create positive results.
If you are in the southern Sacramento area, and need parts for a VW, Audi, Subaru, Isuzu, Suzuki, Dodge, Chrysler, Acura, or Jeep, I whole-heartedly recommend Lasher Auto Group. I have no doubt that you will be pleased with their service.
I invite other parts managers to contact me, and tell me their own stories of success. Wholesale relationships, quality personnel, always striving to be better, these philosophies deserve rewards. I will be happy to add you to my list of distinctive dealerships.
Larry Williams is a former parts manager and consultant with national awards and over 30 years of experience in creating profitable departments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.