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I recently was sent an email  about the relationship between parts and service departments, and found it interesting, challenging, and thought-provoking. It is lengthy, but well worth the read. Please be sure to comment afterward. Full disclosure: I do not know the original author, but am forwarding it here in good faith. One other note: I have reprinted it exactly as I received it, without editing. So here it is:

One of the most symbiotic relationships in your dealership is the one
between your parts and service department. The cooperation between these
groups is crucial and communication is key for the two to work effectively
to service your customers. Yet there are still times where it seems like the
parts and service departments are more in a battle against one another.
We’re going to look at some things each department can do to work together
rather than against one another.

The Service Department Undoubtedly there are members of the service
department both technicians and support staff that have had something
negative to say about parts. Those might include “I can’t believe they got
that wrong I told them exactly what I needed.” Or “I gave them that quote 2
days ago why can’t they get it back to me.” There are a couple things to
keep in mind when it comes to these negative comments, one it makes the
entire dealership look bad, two maybe there is a root cause that contributed
to the issue. Here’s one key thing when dealing with your parts department,
information is king! We all know by now that the single best thing you can
provide is Model and Serial number of the lift you are working on, but there
is more to it than that. Are you working on the mast, a cylinder in the
mast, an attachment, or the engine? If so did your technician get the
information not only off the unit that they are servicing but also the
information off the corresponding piece they are working on? Mast numbers
and cylinder numbers are increasingly important to make sure that the proper
parts are located, some brands don’t manufacture their own masts so getting
these numbers are crucial to getting the right part. In the case of
attachments most manufactures note that an attachment is on the unit but
parts and service support come from the manufacture of the attachment not
the manufacture of the lift truck. The more information you provide to your
parts department the more accurate they can be. From the service management
side are you training your technicians to capture this information? Do your
technicians have to go back and get this information in order to get the
right part? Training the technicians to get the right information the first
time will be key to not only getting the right parts but also to better
serve your customer. In regards to quoting jobs a lot of the same things
apply as above communication and information is king. Keep in mind though
just as your technicians can not be masters of every brand of lift out there
your parts department has its strength and weaknesses as well. If you’re
working on competitive equipment it may be tougher for your parts department
to get the information they need from their sources. Also establish an
expectation for quoting, your service and parts manger should come together
and agree on a reasonable time frame on quoting parts for service jobs, one
suggestion might be one fixed time for equipment you represent and another
time frame on competitive equipment.

The Parts Department Just as above there are also some negative grumblings
about the service department that come from parts personnel. Just as above
it creates a negative view not only inside but also outside of the
organization. There are a couple things that parts needs to keep in mind,
one your service department is your best customer, they are also your most
captive customer. The other thing is, above all have some empathy. It is
easy in parts to forget that the technicians that are calling in or in front
of them at the counter are also the ones that are in front of the customer
more than anyone. They are really the first line of defense for the
dealership and see and get more grief at times especially when something
goes wrong. So how can parts help the service department and foster a
positive relationship. First off be transparent, if the technician you are
working with doesn’t provide you the info you need make sure to ask for it.
Make sure that when you’re pulling parts either for a job or for van
replenishment that all those parts are marked with part numbers, this will
make billing easier. Help the technician communicate info to the customer,
this is especially crucial when it comes to recovery costs like freight.
Make sure that you communicate to the technician what the options are to
bring parts in and how much those options will cost. Don’t hesitate to offer
add on parts for the technician, if they are ordering brake shoes as about
associated parts like spring kits, wheel cylinders, and seals.Parts can also
help in the training process for new and senior technicians by explaining,
not telling, why certain pieces of information are so important.

Management Everything above has been looked at mostly from a front line
view, technicians and parts counter people. Management first and foremost
has to set the standard for cooperation and understanding. If your parts and
service managers are at odds then chances are the departments overall are
going to be at odds. It is important for parts and service managers to work
together to build a strong aftermarket effort for the dealership. First find
some common ground, Parts gets about $.25 per dollar of labor billed which
is great for the dealership and the parts revenue and profit number. For
service having a parts department means that management of inventory and
tracking down of parts is handled for you keep your technicians out there
doing what they do best. Both Parts and Service Management should understand
how important inventory on the vans is and how crucial billing out parts
accurately is key to making sure items get returned to the technicians and
keeping track of the inventory. Most importantly work together, it’s easy to
remember you’re a profit center but a little give and take should be common
place. Service will screw up but Parts will also screw up, work together to
solve issues and when issues do come up don’t just point the finger at one
another. Remember that Parts and Service Rework affect your dealership while
you might be recovering your revenue you’re really just billing yourself.

It’s easy for both parts and service to forget that you’re working together
to service your customer better. It’s important to keep in mind that
attitude on both sides will make a big difference, technicians and counter
people should not berate each other, and management should step in when big
issues between personnel occur. Fostering that great relationship starts at
the top your management needs to be the one championing the relationship
between the two departments. Your goal should be to have the best
dealership, not just the best Parts Department or Service Department.

Well, what is your experience?  Tell us  your opinion on this issue, by leaving a comment below.