Parts Operations

Best Practices for Handling Recall Orders

Order Reprints
Parts Insight_0717

Travis Eshuis treats recall orders a little like pop quizzes. There’s an element of controlled chaos that he always feels he has to brace for as the parts manager at Diehl Ford in Bellingham, Wash.

“Every recall is different,” Eshuis says. “The availability of the recalls are different, too, so it’s a constant reminder for everybody to try and stay on the same page.”

While there’s essentially a different ordering process for each recall, parts departments still need to develop a general process—a general plan of attack—for handling recall situations, because recalls, as Eshuis has observed, appear destined to keep rising, at least for the time being. A record 51.25 million vehicles were recalled by auto manufacturers in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) data. Last year, the NHTSA announced reform to the recall process, partnering with 18 auto manufacturers to share data that can lead to the discovery of safety concerns. And all these recalls can cause bottlenecks within a shop, if they’re not handled promptly, with the aid of thorough processes.

With that in mind, Eshuis provides his tips for handling recall orders as smoothly as possible.


Study as Much as Possible

Eshuis tries to devote around 45 minutes, multiple days per week, to studying Ford’s homepage and its updated information on recalls. He prints every recall out and takes note of the suggested process for getting parts to rectify the situation.

It’s all about staying up to date on recalls, and understanding each one, to make handling those situations go off without a hitch.

“I try to … just check it out periodically throughout the week, to make sure nothing’s changed,” Eshuis notes. “Because it starts with me understanding the process.

“When new [recalls] come in, you read through them, and you update your guides.”


Stay on Top of Scheduling  

For some recalls, parts can be ordered seemingly in a matter of hours; for a brand-new recall, it might take nearly a month for parts to become available. Still, if your facility doesn’t jump on scheduling promptly when dealt with a recall situation, things can become unwieldy in a hurry. So it’s important for a parts department to work with the service department on scheduling matters and to stay on the same page.

And it’s imperative to let customers know about recalls as far in advance as possible.

“Obviously, when it’s a safety recall, where the customer’s wanting to get in as soon as possible to get that done, it’s very important to keep them in the loop of the parts availability,” Eshuis says.


Communicate with Service

Above all else, Eshuis feels it’s key for his parts department to have frequent dialogue with the service department at Diehl Ford. If the departments don’t work in concert, it can leave customers confused during recalls.

And, in the wake of all that, a riff can form between parts and service departments if you’re not careful, Eshuis warns.

In the midst of a recall situation, Diehl Ford’s order process looks like this: The service department gets a customer’s information and the recall number, each individual customer is assigned his or her own order sheet, and service advisors are alerted with regard to when parts are expected to arrive, and are given a copy of the recall and an overall ETA. Then, as soon as parts arrive onsite, a member of the parts department notifies service, allowing that department to contact customers and get them in for repairs.

“If there’s no communication,” Eshuis notes, “then the customer suffers, and that’s the last thing we want.

“If there’s an open line of communication, and we’re all saying the same thing and keeping everybody informed, it’s a better process for everybody.”

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