The Value of a Parts & Service Director
David Brunette used to dismiss parts department employees as being aloof and out of touch.
“I started my life as a mechanic, and then became a service advisor, and then a service manager,” noted Brunette, currently the parts and service director at Eskridge Honda in Oklahoma City. “I was frustrated with the parts department [in the past], because I didn’t believe they carried the right mix of parts and quantity of parts. And I didn’t know that they really cared.”
Eventually, Brunette learned just how valuable parts departments are, and how they’re as important as ever to a dealership’s bottom line. That’s why he has gone to great lengths, as Eskridge Honda’s parts and service director, to unify the two departments he oversees. Brunette feels that parts departments and service departments have a symbiotic relationship, and rely on each other.
So, these days, there isn’t any adversarial relationship in Oklahoma City among the departments Brunette oversees. And he feels that helps illustrate the value of a dealership utilizing a parts and service director—one person to supervise the two departments.
“There’s an inherent struggle between a parts department and a service department,” Brunette noted. “When I got to be a parts and service director [in 2005], for a couple years Larry Doane, the parts manager, taught me a lot. There’s a lot [parts employees] do behind the scenes.”
And thus, there’s value in maintaining serenity among departments when you’re a parts and service director.
Here’s how Brunette, who has worked at Eskridge for 34 years, maintains a peaceful coexistence between his parts department and his service department:
Eliminate Competition Among Departments.
As a parts and service director, it’s important to avoid playing favorites, Brunette said. Because if there’s an air of competition among service and parts departments, an entire fixed operations department usually suffers as a result.
By “having someone that can step in and make a decision unemotionally—by taking the competition out of it—I think better decisions are made,” the industry veteran said.
Have Employees Spend Time in Both Departments.
In Oklahoma City, Brunette makes sure to share a few employees between his parts and service department. That way, staffers can learn to empathize with each other, as well as build camaraderie.
“I’ll have some employees that will work in both parts and service, so it’s not ‘us versus them,’” Brunette said, “so they see the other side of the counter.”
Schedule Meetings Among Department Leaders.
Some parts and service directors force their department managers to meet daily, sometimes as early as 6:45 a.m. Brunette prefers to have his parts manager and service manager have a lunch meeting once a week. Such get-togethers allow the managers to talk about recent dealership challenges, upcoming work schedules, or any new initiatives brought forth by the manufacturer.
Brunette said such meetings are all about “communication—making your parts and service managers sit down together and resolve issues together.”