Parts departments are filled with workers who EXPERTS on parts, but have little experience in sales. Sound familiar?
As a result, your parts team might not be tapping into its full potential. There are probably quite a few tricks and tips your team can implement to grow parts department sales and squeeze some more profit into the dealership each month.
Check out our list of tips for growing sales at your parts department.
1. Prioritize Customer Service and Communication
These days, your customers have access to a lot of information. There's a good chance they've researched the parts they need online before coming into your dealership.
Creating a personalized connection with your customers goes a long way in building loyalty. This, in turn, increases the chances that they'll come back to shop with you next time! Establish your dealership as a trustworthy and credible source of information on everything they need to know about cars. If you're feeling ambitious and really want to go the extra mile, start up an auto blog they can refer to for installation guides and other automotive topics.
2. Review your Pricing Strategy
Instead of applying the same pricing across the board, try breaking down your inventory into smaller categories and repricing them accordingly.
There’s a lot of ways you could break it down, but here are some suggestions:
- Popularity of the part
- Price of the part
- Parts vs accessories vs performance parts
- Transportation and handling costs
- Front counter vs back counter customers
For something small and inexpensive, like nuts, bolts, and screws, apply a larger pricing margin. Instead of selling at MSRP, which might only be around 15-20 cents, you can easily set up a matrix that marks it up to around $1. When a customer comes in for service, they’ll hardly notice such a small part charge.
If you’re selling online, setting different margin pricing across your inventory is absolutely essential. Without a pricing matrix, you often end up overcharging for expensive parts and undercharging for cheap parts. This will either scare away potential shoppers or cause you to sell parts at a loss!
3. Improve your Stocking
The best way to improve your parts sales is to always have the products customers need readily on hand. If you don’t have it, you can’t sell it! It seems like a simple thing, but it’s still overlooked by a lot of dealerships.
Start by listening to your customers and monitoring your sales. What sells the most? What sells the least? If you know you can sell a LOT of something, you might even be able to order a larger pallet and qualify for a better bulk discount.
Classify your sales to differentiate between what you sell from inventory and what you order specifically for a customer. This kind of classification will improve inventory management and help you make better stocking decisions. You can also use your inventory to compare what parts customers are buying from other dealers and include it in your future inventory.
Data-based decisions will lessen the risk of overstocking or understocking parts and accessories.
You can also try stocking fun novelty items! Shoppers are always attracted to fun items from their favorite car brand, so use this to your advantage. Try selling things like:
- Water bottles
- Backpacks/Laptop bags
- License plate frames
These items can also liven up your counter, since auto parts are not always the most attractive items to put on display.
4. Launch an Online Sales Channel for Parts and Accessories
Of course, there’s always the option of taking your parts business online. The online parts market is expected to hit $8.9B in sales by the end of 2017, so you don’t want to miss out!
The internet opens you up to new markets at a fraction of the cost it would take to open a physical store. Launching your own parts website can add a valuable new channel for parts department sales and generate tens of thousands each month in sales.
As another option, marketplaces such as eBay Motors or Amazon grow larger every year… so why not sell parts there, too? Solutions like RevolutionParts make it easier than ever to plug in and start selling, so don’t worry about being “techie” enough to grow parts department sales using the internet.
5. Eliminate Obsolete Parts
Obsolete parts tie up money and warehouse space that you could otherwise invest in fast-moving parts. While it's nearly impossible get rid of obsolete parts by just selling at the counter, we have a few tricks you can use to keep them at a minimum.
Start by asking special order customers to make a significant deposit, and communicate clearly that you will return the part to the manufacturer if it is not collected within a specific timeframe. Next, analyze your inventory reports to identify fast-moving parts that are not selling as much or slow-moving parts that are picking up to balance your inventory.
If you still find yourself with obsolete parts, look for creative ways of getting rid of them. For example, alert other dealerships in your auto group to make sure they don't order a new part you already have, or offer it at a discount. The trick is to check for obsolete parts on a regular basis and analyze your inventory to avoid overstocking on parts that may soon become obsolete.
There's also the easy option of selling these obsolete parts online. It’s unlikely that a shopper in your local area will be looking for that part, but you might be able to find a buyer when you sell online and tap into the global market.
Part shoppers often know that obsolete part will be tricky to find, so eBay Motors is one of the first places they'll look to buy it. When you offer those parts on eBay or a standalone parts website, you can still make a sale instead of tossing the part and throwing that money down the drain.
6. Try Marketing
Ultimately, your strategies will only work if people know you have parts available on your shelves! If you have an internal marketing department, ask them to help out. If that’s not an option for you, there are plenty of easy DIY marketing tricks you can do to help drive more parts department sales.
For example, why not take advantage of the captive audience in your service department? Post promotional flyers on the walls or stack some coupon cards at the tables. Customers can browse your offers while they’re waiting around for their car to be ready.
You can also create a retail display section in a corner of the room. If you do decide to sell novelty items, colorful T-shirts, key chains, and hats are a great option for this! You can also rotate it based on season, like displaying winter accessories when the snow starts to fall.
Regularly to assess the display to track what’s selling and what isn’t. And make sure you maintain it by cleaning it at least once a week to keep dust off the display!
Growing parts department sales requires deliberate effort and innovation from the team. These tips are a great place to start, but always keep your ears open for more tricks—you’ll always find new ways to improve!
While there are many strategies you can employ as listed, leverage your creativity as a team to come up with the best sales plan. Take risks, utilize online platforms, and always place the customer at the center of all your decisions.