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Parts Processes That Aid Efficiency

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Floy Wright likes things done the right way, the first time. After all, in her 32 years working in parts departments, she has learned how costly even occasional oversights can be.  

“I’m very specific on what I expect―the way I want warranties to be handled, customers to be handled, and deadlines on when special orders need to be here,” says Wright, parts director for two Joe Cooper Ford stores in Oklahoma. “It’s kind of my personality.”

She isn’t necessarily a perfectionist. She just likes seeing things run as efficiently as possible.

“I’m the kind of person where, if it needs to be done, let’s do it now, let’s not procrastinate,” Wright explains. “Then you never have to look back.”

Wright has her parts departments pointed in the right direction, thanks to thoughtful processes that have been crafted over the years. Here are four elements that have made Wright’s departments as efficient as ever:

 

1. Specify Job Descriptions.

Wright, who oversees eight employees and about $525,000 in inventory, makes it a point to clearly note what is expected from each member of her parts department. She prints out job descriptions, and then has each staffer sign a copy.

“It’s specific, from the time I expect them to be here to the time they leave, and what they do on their downtime,” Wright says. “They turn it in to me, and that way everybody’s clear on what I expect.”

 

2. Communicate with Technicians.

While this bullet point may sound obvious at first, assuming what a technician needs can produce costly results. Thus, Wright strives for open lines of communication among her co-workers. It’s always best, she says, to clarify exactly what a tech requires to do a repair that’s above reproach.

“Don’t ever be afraid to go get a technician and have them look at a picture,” he says. Get “all the specific information. … Take care of those technicians because they can be our best friend or our worst enemy.”

 

3. Use Driver Route Sheets.

One process that has greatly aided efficiency is how Wright’s staff uses a spreadsheet to note where the facility’s parts are coming from, who they’re for, what technician will be working on the job, as well as customer contact info.

“If everybody uses it correctly, it’s got all the information you need,” Wright notes of the route sheet. “So, you never get the, ‘I don’t know’ answer, because it’s all there in black and white.”

 

4. Reflect and Re-evaluate.

Every once in a while, Wright takes stock of whether processes are working. Then, if needed, she’ll refine them. Often, she’ll take this tact before a new hire’s first day in Oklahoma.

“Hold your people accountable, and make them understand why we do things the way we do, and what the overall outcome is for the department,” Wright says. If “you hold people accountable for mistakes, and for their work habits, it not only makes them a better employee, but it helps your department, too.”

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