OEM Part Sales are the First Step in Repair Safety
“We battle aftermarket versus OE every day,” says John Lyons, parts manager at Hawk Ford (Oak Lawn, Ill.).
Lyons knows the dilemma—as a career dealership professional, he’s been on the front lines of parts sales since the internet was something Bryant Gumbel fumbled with in the early 90s on Good Morning America. He’s been with Hawk Ford (formerly Hawkinson Ford) since 1988.
“I enjoy learning,” he says, “and seeing the business and industry evolve has been quite a run. Engaging with customers and helping staff is also great; knowing that you have something in common with the people around you.”
And though the medium of parts purchasing process have changed from physical catalogs to digital, Lyons is confident the right—and safe—option is OE parts through dealerships such as Hawk Ford.
OE Equals Certified Safety
As cars become more complicated, sophisticated and autonomous, the need for proper repairs is more pressing than ever. And dealers play a pivotal part.
"There’s no room for error and no excuse for repairing any vehicle with improper parts,” says Shane Murphy, Manager of the Field Services Group at OEC. “Lives and businesses are at risk; it’s directly about safety, crashworthiness, and the value of the repaired vehicle to the owner.”
Both Murphy and Lyons understand the importance of the role parts managers and parts departments play in the repair process. Utilizing the power and resources of OEMs, dealerships have more of an opportunity than ever before to work in tandem with (and not in competition against) local body shops; parts manager and parts counters have the ability to provide the correct-fitting part, every time.
“Our parts guys are factory-certified and trained,” Lyons says. “OEM parts fit better on the vehicles, especially newer modules and components. It really is the way to go.”
It’s a simple equation: when shops go to dealers for parts and those dealers provide the exact OE parts and components, the repair will be made with maximum form, fitness and reliability.
Leverage Resources for Revenue
Using resources such as RepairLink and CollisionLink have represented a sea change in how Lyons sees his role in the greater repair process and how he manages, advises and works with his parts counter and local shops. This starts with online parts ordering.
“Online ordering is more convenient and fast. It’s faster for shops as well—when you call, however, you may be put on hold in the parts department or dealership. Online ordering, though, is more efficient. You can do it anytime out of the normal hours of the dealership; if you order something after 9:00 p.m., we can still process it, handle it and get it on the truck for almost immediate delivery the next day.”
What’s more, Lyons works with as many shops as he can to provide not only OE parts, but ancillary equipment, training and data/repair guidelines to ensure his clients have everything they need to be certified collision repairers. That’s a challenge, he says, that he enjoys.
What Lyons makes clear is the opportunity—and responsibility—that dealership parts managers and staff face every day.
“We’re held accountable for some of the body shops, and that’s OK,” he says, “as the OEM makes shops and dealerships more accountable for repairs, everyone is going to get more business out of it, especially the way the technology is going.”
Murphy agrees, and understands that online parts resources foster long-term, beneficial partnerships between dealers and shops, because the goal is ultimately the same: provide the customer with the safest vehicle possible. He sees dealerships as equally responsible in driver safety. He sees form and fitment education as a crucial aspect to safer, more structurally sound vehicles on the road, and collaborating to inform the driver as a necessary task for all parties, no matter which side of the road—or counter—you stand.
“OE parts really do fit better and make the repair process more seamless and compatible,” Lyons says. “OEC is a good partner of ours. They give us good avenues to curb the business and tech wave a bit, keep up to date and move forward with confidence.”
Collaboration is Key
For his work, Lyons and Hawk Ford were recognized by Ford Motor Company in 2018 as one of the top dealerships for increasing the volume of business through independent repair shops.
“Our outside sales team does a great job signing people up on RepairLink,” he says. “The future of the industry is collaborative—you have to be versatile.”
The power of an online parts department combined with the desire to educate and work with shops has positioned Hawk Ford to stem the oncoming tide of OEM repair guidelines, vehicular technology and a more complicated repair process.
“You work and learn and work and learn, and that’s this business,” he says.
“Tomorrow could be different; you don’t know what tomorrow brings.”
Fortunately he has the tools to handle tomorrow’s challenges. To understand your role in safer repairs and what an online parts counter can do for you (and your shop partners), check out oeconnection.com/why-oe.