Wednesday, 17 June 2020 12:34

Auto Dealer Parts Departments Continue to Serve Through Pandemic

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Assuming your business has been slow, how have you used the extra time?


Parts department personnel have been using the time to clean up their physical department, check bin counts to ensure inventory accuracy, painting, erecting new shelves and general reorganizing. Some used the time for training. Some updated account information. And some parts managers said with furloughed employees, there was no free time---those that remained were just as busy as before.


Already, people have started driving again and business have started reopening. In view of the events of the past few months, how do you view the future of your parts dept?


  • 33% said: “It will return to its pre-virus levels but will take several months. I expect to rehire my furloughed people eventually.”
  • 27% said: “I plan to retain some of the changes we made during the pandemic and there will be a ‘new normal.’"
  • 22% said: “My parts business has changed little over the past few months. I expect to continue on business as usual.”
  • 18% said: “It will return to its pre-virus levels in a fairly short amount of time. I expect to rehire my furloughed people fairly soon."


One GM dealer in Michigan said, “We are already back to normal. All employees have already returned.”


Do you foresee any long-term negative effects from the pandemic and if so, what?


Twenty-seven percent of respondents said yes, while 73% said no. Several of those that said yes said it will take a long time for people who have been out of work to recover.


A parts manager at a West Coast Mercedes-Bena dealer noted, “I think this will be an ongoing, seasonal issue for a few seasons/years. The collision business will take on the majority of the decline each time.”


An unidentified parts manager from an East Coast Toyota dealership said, “We will see a new way of doing business; COD only---no charges.”


Finally, an Acura parts manager said the last four months had really “put the icing on the cake." He noted that paying for such computer programs such as CCC, Parts Trader and OPS Trax have added thousands of dollars per month to their operating costs. That, combined with other wholesale costs and a steep downturn in business, has simply made the wholesale business untenable.


But rising wholesale business costs and declining profits for dealers has been an issue for 40 years or more. Fortunately for the collision and mechanical repair shops, auto dealers, being as creative and resilient as they are, always seem to find a way to mitigate these business issues and keep serving the automotive aftermarket repair industry.

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