Parts Leadership Operations Shop Customers

Developing a Systemized Parts-Delivery Process

Order Reprints
Dec 2017 Parts Case Study

The parts-ordering process used to make Jim Shearer cringe. As such, he has some uncomfortable memories from his early days toiling in parts departments.

“I can remember working a long time ago; the ownership had card files,” recalls the longtime parts manager at Rochester (N.H.) Toyota. “You had to take every part and put a tally mark on it when it came in, and mark what you’ve sold.

“That was a major nightmare.”

These days, dealer management systems (DMS) have made the parts-delivery process far more enjoyable, Shearer notes. But that software takes time to master.

Fortunately for Shearer, the CDK Global DMS system Rochester Toyota currently uses has helped him formulate a systemized parts-delivery process that now works seamlessly.  

 

Old Delivery Dilemmas  

Back in the day, reading parts orders was often like trying to translate hieroglyphics.

In other words, it wasn’t exactly an efficient process.

“The old system, everything was handwritten, and the biggest problem with it was deciphering people’s handwriting,” recalls Shearer, who oversees a parts department with three employees. “If the customers wrote something, it was very difficult. Even the people you work with, you had to learn … their writing.”

Since the early 1980s, Shearer has largely used computer software to aid parts ordering and delivering. Of course, those early computer programs had inefficiencies, like the fact you had to seemingly spend an eternity inputting parts numbers.

Fortunately, he was eventually given access to a drastically improved DMS roughly a decade ago.

 

Delivery Made Easy

For nearly 10 years, Shearer has had access to an ADP DMS setup (ADP has since been purchased by CDK). That current system has helped Shearer make his department’s systemized parts-delivery process run like clockwork.

“Now it’s all computer print out,” he says. “You don’t have to figure out what somebody wrote, because it’s all nice and clear.

“You just go into the order number and indicate what’s on backorder with that order number. Then, it’s just one click and you can receive the whole order.”

Nowadays, parts department staffers make special-order requests (SORs) for customers and transmit them to Toyota within seconds.

“It’s just a couple keystrokes on your computer, and the whole thing gets shipped off,” Shearer says. “Toyota processes it overnight, we get the parts; they’re sitting here waiting for us the next morning.”

In 2017, Shearer’s systemized parts-delivery process is finalized with procedures that employees carry out with assembly-line precision:

  1. First, parts come in from Toyota.

  2. Rochester Toyota’s parts employees check said parts in at a shipping and receiving desk.

  3. A printout of all recent orders is back-checked.

  4. Parts are placed on a special-order shelf.

  5. Customers are notified.

  6. If necessary, deliveries are made.


Trusting the System

Rochester Toyota’s inventory has grown incrementally over the years, to $120,000, and the parts department will soon expand in size. And Shearer credits much of that to a systemized parts-delivery process that’s greatly aided by the CDK DMS setup, which makes transmitting large orders easier than he ever could’ve imagined.

“I can remember when you used to have to sit there and key in each part number on the computer screen separately and then send it as an order,” he says.

“Nowadays … as you create an order card in the computer system, it’s already waiting to be transmitted off—there really isn’t a lot to it.”

 

Prepping for Parts Delivery Success 

Jim Shearer, the parts manager at Rochester (NH) Toyota, swears by his department’s parts-delivery process. Here are Shearer’s suggestions for how to master your facility’s DMS—thus ensuring your parts-delivery process can work as smoothly as possible.

1. Be Meticulous. Shearer makes sure to input as much information as possible in his DMS, so employees have access to any bit of information they might need.

“It’s easy for something to slip through the cracks,” he explains. “Make sure that everything goes into the computer, so that you have records of it.”

2. Communicate with Co-Workers Often. When trying to learn a new DMS, it’s imperative to talk with your entire staff often and to address any questions that might arise in learning a new program.

“It’s a constant communication thing,” Shearer notes. “You need to talk to everybody, all the time.”

3. Listen, and be Flexible. While having those aforementioned conversations with employees, it’s also important that parts managers listen to any well considered suggestions from staffers—especially tech-savvy individuals.

“You have to be open to listening,” Shearer says. “If somebody finds something that works better, we look at it, and see if that’s a way to go.”

4. Immerse Yourself in the System. In the past, Shearer has made mock orders while learning new a new DMS system, in an effort to familiarize himself with all elements of the software. After all, it’s easier to learn while the pressure is off with regard to being 100 percent accurate.

“Go and play, learn, and listen,” Shearer says. “You have some online help, but mostly you [should] go and look at each one of the functions that they have in there, and see what they do.”

5. Utilize Parts Manager Guilds. Shearer feels parts manager guilds (similar to 20 Groups) are an often underutilized resource. In fact, he feels such groups are invaluable.

“You get to realize that there’s other people that are having the same headaches and heartaches that you’re having,” he says. “Which makes it a lot easier to deal with. And, you have people to bounce ideas off.”

 

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