Today, even the most seasoned parts managers are in danger of burnout.
Dealership parts backorders, a symptom of the ongoing inventory shortage, are creating more than profit loss. Interdepartmental tension, frustrated customers, and a stressed-out parts staff have only increased since 2020.
Some parts departments aren’t even getting an ETA for the parts and accessories they need. More loyal customers might be understanding, while most blame the dealership.
For parts managers, an already difficult job has been exacerbated. Nobody wants to be sitting on their hands waiting on parts, yet that’s the very situation we find ourselves in today.
What can management do to take hold of the dealership inventory problem and be a positive force?
Nothing is easy to get right now. What started as shutdowns, ended up in staffing shortages. Different points of the process have been affected, whether manufacturing or delivery.
Yes, it’s maddening. When talking to customers, however, it’s important to stay positive. Don’t convey your stress and frustration to the point of transferring it to your customers. Empathize without unloading.
Stay far away from blaming other departments within your dealership. There will be times when a salesperson promises something that you can’t deliver; and, that’s an internal problem to address in private, not with your customer.
Present your dealership perfectly to establish trust and good communication.
Here are a few tips on how to set expectations in varying scenarios.
Customers Calling for Parts
With the dealership inventory shortage, some parts managers and staff may be tempted to avoid answering the phone. Don’t make this mistake. Customers are often frustrated by the lack of general communication. Now is the time to excel in the communication department! When a customer inquires about a part, take time with them. If you don’t have immediate information, look it up and provide details on what you do know. Affirm that many customers are looking for the part or accessory and that you are actively working with the manufacturer to restock. Make a human connection with your customer. Connect with them about the unprecedented times we are all living in, where many industries are still disrupted. Remain optimistic and hopeful with your customer that dealership parts backorders will not last forever.
You could try saying:
“Thank you for your call. You’re not alone in searching for that part! A lot of our customers are asking about it, and we are too. The latest update is that the part is expected to be restocked on ____. At that point, we will be calling everyone who has been waiting on it. Let me make sure I have all your information so I can get back in touch with you that day. It’s hard to believe we’re still dealing with the fallout of 2020, isn’t it?”
Customers Shopping Online
Undoubtedly, parts managers are taking in plenty of e-commerce inquiries. The best way to handle online customers is to have backorder information prominently displayed. If there’s a national shortage, have a pop-up or banner ad displayed on the parts section of your website or e-commerce store. Messaging should also be consistent across your website with the most recent information that you have about parts. To deliver excellent customer service, ensure that the expectation for how long the part will take to arrive is displayed before and after purchase. Send follow-up emails after the purchase with updated information as it comes. The more information you can give digitally, the less need the customer has to call for an update.
Customers Unknowingly Ordering Backordered Accessories
Let’s say you get an order for accessories on a new car that was just sold. You immediately notice that 3 out of 5 accessories sold are on backorder. Now the customer is calling you wanting to know how soon their accessorized car will be ready. First, thank the customer for their business and explain the dealership inventory shortage. If it’s a national shortage, be sure to tell the customer so they understand it’s a widespread problem. Affirm the salesperson, acknowledging that the accessories they were sold are very popular for their vehicle and worth waiting for. Then, give the customer the information you have on when the accessories are expected in your store, and how soon after.
What Insignia Group Customers Can Do:
- Insignia Group customers can minimize the risk by setting proper expectations on the front end.
- Parts managers can edit the description of individual parts to reflect the backorder status, expected availability, and more. The salesperson and the customer will see your note when adding the item to the cart.
- Alternatively, you can hide the part from the catalog until it’s restocked to prevent it from selling altogether.
- Parts can also use the system to send email updates to the sales managers about pending accessory order status. That way, the sales staff can stay up to speed on what’s happening with popular parts so they can rightly convey it to their customers.
You could try saying:
“Thank you for choosing ABC dealership for your new car purchase. We did receive your order to add x, y, and z to your vehicle. I have X on hand and can schedule installation immediately. Y and Z are on national backorder. The manufacturer expects to be able to deliver those products in ___ weeks. As soon as the back-ordered accessories/parts arrive, you’ll be in the queue for installation. (Salesperson) knew they’d be worth the wait, because they’re so popular for your vehicle, and you will really be wanting those in the long run!”
There are ways to get creative with this problem. Connect with (or initiate) a dealer-to-dealer program through Facebook groups. Join a group like “Parts Department. Where The Magic Happens” to grow the number of people you can pull from when you need it. Inevitably someone will have something that you need—and, you’ll have the opportunity to sell a few parts of your own! All while building relationships with other stores.
In an industry of cutthroat competition, parts shortages band us all together!
An Outlook on the Parts Inventory Shortage
As we inch near the end of 2022, industry experts analyze when relief will come.
Many don’t expect a major change in the global supply shortage until well into 2024. In truth, manufacturers have taken one hit after another. The onset of the pandemic was only the beginning. With production now affected by the emergence of new strains of the virus, a chip shortage, and the Russian-Ukrainian war, a return to normalcy may still be a year or more away.
Dealerships should focus on the above options and other ways to best serve their customers under the present circumstances.
About Insignia Group
Insignia Group is the leading provider of digital accessory-selling platforms in the nation. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry, we’re a provider that understands the challenges that dealerships face.
The majority of our dealership clients are actually selling more accessories now than before 2020, producing much-needed revenue to make up for lower volume unit sales. They accomplish this by ensuring that every customer gets an accessory presentation using Insignia Group software. Our software allows Parts Managers to feature accessories that are readily available in stock and hide those that they know won't be for a while. Dealers are also surviving and thriving by focusing on accessorizing used vehicles and moving the parts and inventory available to them.
Are you ready to take control of the circumstances? Contact us today to see how we can help.