Tuesday, 30 September 2008 17:00

Earnhardt is World’s Largest Dodge Dealer—ARO meets Demand

Written by  Karyn Hendricks
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So the obvious first question was “Are you of the racing Earnhardts?”
    “No,” said Terry Doll, parts manager, Earnhardt Dodge, Phoenix, Arizona. “But we have a reputation of our own. Tex Earnhardt and his sons, Hal and Jim, are the most recognized personalities in the southwest from having built one of the most successful automobile organizations in the United States.”

    Family-owned and operated since 1951, Earnhardt Auto Centers had its humble beginnings selling a few Fords a month. Tex became the youngest person to receive a Ford franchise. From that first Ford Dealership in Chandler, the business has grown to nine dealerships and did nearly one billion dollars in retail sales and sold over 27,000 retail units last year.

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The Dodge store has been the largest Dodge vehicle retail sales store in the world for a record nine years straight. The parts department is an important component of the Earnhardt’s success under the leadership of general manager Doll, who has been a car buff since he was a little kid. Cars have always been his hobby and as such he has been a drag racer, restored street cars and done a little bit of everything else in the car hobby field. Since he graduated from high school, he has worked in parts departments—21 years for the Earnhardts. Who better to head a parts department with an inventory valued at more than 1.2 million?
    The massive inventory is managed by the Chrysler Automatic Replenishment Order (ARO) program. The ARO signifies a relationship in which Mopar replenishes or restocks inventory based upon actual product usage and stock level information provided by Earnhardt’s parts department. The basic components of an ARO program include decision support systems, product identification technology (bar coding), and electronic data interchange (EDI).
    AROs are used to make inventory commitment more efficient. Product availability must be balanced against carrying unnecessarily high stock levels. The solution is to substitute information for inventory. Actual sales figures and buyer- supplied information trigger replenishment. This requires close cooperation between retailers and manufacturers. The trading partners must trust one another and be willing to share proprietary info.
    “The Chrysler ARO program assures that we stock parts that turn over rapidly. We have no obsolete parts,” said Doll.

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The parts department

Seven highly trained, experienced wholesale parts advisors and four wholesale customer service representatives are respon- sible for keeping customers satisfied. Each has been with Earnhardt for at least ten years. They are experts in Mopar parts and loyal Earnhardt people. “They are seven of the best and I would put them up against any team in the country,” praised Doll.
    In addition, four parts wholesale customer relations representatives travel statewide to visit all the wholesale customers and act as liaison to provide the best service possible, said Doll.
    “We have over 300 years of experience within the wholesale team members who answer the 3 toll-free wholesale lines and 2 direct fax numbers for our wholesale operation. As a leading Mopar parts dealer, we do not want any of our customers on hold or receiving a busy signal.”
    Ten local wholesale parts delivery vehicles handle dispersing parts to the Phoenix metro and outlying areas. Hot shot deliveries handle urgent needs and pattern runs ensure parts are delivered the same day as ordered. Next day in-state parts delivery is available to all corners of the state of Arizona.
    The parts department also provides parts for Earnhardt’s huge service department which is equipped with 85 bays, 14 service advisors and 40 technicians.

Mopar Masters Guild member

Doll is proud to be a member of the Mopar Masters Guild, comprised of the top 100 Mopar parts dealers across the country. Members of the Guild get together and share information to improve their businesses. “Consistently being in the top 100 is a real feat,” commented Doll.
    The Guild motto is: “The exchange of information by like-size dealers in a non-competitive environment.” Members of the guild work closely together, exchanging parts and information back and forth. The top parts managers across the country meet each year. Vendors demonstrate new products. Chrysler executives come and consult with Guild members. Supported by Chrysler, the Mopar Masters Guild is a win-win deal.

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    Doll participants in all Mopar programs, such as Collision Parts Price Matching and National Installer. The Mopar Conquest program will match aftermarket part prices and provide the genuine Mopar part in its place.
    Earnhardt also benefits from its association with OEConnection’s CollisionLink, which provides online technology solutions that put people, parts, service and profits within reach by offering information and systems to assist parts and service departments move more original equip- ment parts and better serve customers.

Collision repair shop
The dealership itself sits on 37 acres, where one finds the huge service department and the state-of-the-art body shop which serves all the Earnhardt dealerships. Six collision advisors and ten collision repair technicians keep 20 bays and 3 paint booths humming. All employees are I-CAR trained, including the office staff. The CCC pathways estimating system and pathways digital imaging are used to accomplish precision repairs; a Genesis Laser measuring system, on which all techs are trained, is also in the shop.
    Along with all this modern equipment, the shop has the Celette bench, Duzmore frame rack, Chief frame rack and measuring system, Auto Robots measuring pulling racks and a Hunter Alignment rack. Several paint prep stations, jamming stations and drive through paint booths assure a fantastic finish.
    Earnhardt Auto Body has been recognized as one of the Phoenix area’s top 17 collision centers as recommended by Mark Salem, the “TV 3 Car Guy.”

Always room for expansion
As a result of closing the Earnhardt Chrysler-Jeep dealership the size of the Dodge parts wholesale team increased as teammates from that store were integrated into the existing team. Since this is a very cohesive group, the transition was flawless, letting Earnhardt parts department reach out to all the Mopar customers. There is a specialist on hand to handle questions about Chrysler and Jeep.
    Concluded Doll, “Our goal is to offer the best in Parts Wholesale Customer Service and That Ain’t No Bull.”

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