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Tips for Success in a Parts Department

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Ashley Russon began her career with Mark Miller’s used car dealership just over six years ago. She worked different jobs within the dealership until it closed, which is when she was offered a position as a parts driver at the Mark Miller Subaru Midtown (Utah) location. Since then, she has quickly moved up the ranks to her current position.

Customers and staff agree, Russon is a dedicated and hard-working employee who has quickly picked up on her position and the needs of her department, which will generate an estimated $6.5 million in sales this year. Although she had no prior knowledge of the inner workings of a dealership’s parts department, she’s gained considerable knowledge on the job and she continues to grow.

Russon says the keys to thriving in the fast-paced environment comes down to attention to detail.

Below, she outlines the keys to being successful in a parts department.


1. Building Trust

Whether she is interacting with a customer at the parts counter or over the phone, Russon ensures she stays on top of her customers’ needs and parts deliveries. 

Simple things like repeating herself when a customer asks a question, lets the customer know she is paying attention and that she understands what they are asking. She also thinks about how she wants to be treated and applies that to any customer and staff interaction she has. 

Not only is she trying to build a relationship with customers, she does the same with her team and with technicians. 

In order to get the job done and get parts where they need to go, you must build a relationship of trust with customers and staff alike. Russon knows this and she does everything in her power to listen to customers and staff. She makes sure both groups have what they need in a timely manner. If anyone in her department needs help, she’ll stay late to help out. 


2. Maintaining a Positive Attitude

Gauge which days are busiest in the department, Russon notes. Then you will be able to organize your daily tasks accordingly. 

The Mark Miller Subaru parts department booms with customers or parts orders, so Russon knows how overwhelming the busiest of days can get. On any given day, Russon and the parts counter process approximately 150–200 orders that includes customer walk-ins, phone orders and those coming from the dealership’s service department and body shop. 

Communication with staff and technicians is key to keeping a positive mindset in the midst of a busy day. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help, Russon notes; everyone has been in the position where they feel they could make a mistake because they have to juggle answering the phones and speaking with people at the counter. Before things get out of hand, ask members of your team to help lessen the load. 

Another way to keep a level head is to maintain your sense of humor. According to Russon, she and the other members of her team find ways to keep things light around the department. Often, they tell jokes among themselves.     


3. Staying Informed

Although she is not completely well versed on parts department terminology, Russon takes any opportunity she can to learn a little more. 

“Since I’m still learning the jargon and there are multiple names for a certain part, I make sure I connect with the technician who put in the part order,” Russon says. 

She typically communicates with her team and technicians face to face, so if a customer has a question about a part she isn’t familiar with, she consults with her team. Then, she makes sure she gets a brief rundown from a technician. That way, she will be prepared if the question arises again. 

If there are any questions in regard to a quote, she asks the team member who originally created it to address it.  

“As long as I’m happy and willing to learn, I have a great team that is willing to help me,” she says. 

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