In the early 1970s when I was being trained for my first management position (shop foreman), I was told that the No. 1 reason customers gave for being dissatisfied with a collision repair shop was, "I didn't get my car on time." I was also told that the No. 1 reason shops cited for not being able to deliver a vehicle on time was in one way or another related to parts.
Unlike other automotive repair facilities that can stock large numbers of oil filters that fit multiple vehicles, a collision repair facility must order parts specific to the vehicle being repaired.
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Also, with parts making up approximately 35 percent or more of sales, they are a significant cost center for the facility, and their efficient management is extremely important to profitability.
In an independent shop that works on a variety of makes and models of vehicles, it becomes even more challenging. Add to that the need to reduce cost and increase throughput; having the right part, for the right vehicle, to the right technician, just on time is, to say the least, challenging.
Taming the parts dragon starts with the estimate. The estimate is often referred to as the blueprint for the repair and not only does it correctly direct the technician who will be repairing the vehicle, but it also is extremely important in obtaining the correct, on-time parts needed for the repair.
A computer-generated estimate provides many essential components needed for ordering the correct parts. Depending on your system, most produce an estimate, with each line item clearly listed, and a work order directing technicians and the metal shop and refinish department as to what repairs will be done on the vehicle. Most programs also produce a parts list, which can be faxed directly to the vendor, with a copy placed in the file jacket. Parts lists include the current part number (often retrieved by VIN code), price (which will need to be verified using the vendors in voice), and most importantly the work order for that vehicle.