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Online procurement systems could be helping your shop today

Monday, September 30, 2019 - 06:00
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An interesting thing happened a decade ago when a number of online parts procurement systems hit the market. Even though these products were designed to make ordering more efficient and parts less costly, a large portion of repairers pushed back.

With shops, insurers, MSOs, vendors and OEMS all jockeying for market share, little wonder that anything new involving all these parties would leave many shops wary. When State Farm began requiring its Select Service shops to use the procurement service Parts Trader, a number of repairers spoke out, declaring that more repair decisions were being forced from them and the service performed poorly.

Change doesn’t come easy in this industry. Still, online parts procurement providers have weathered this storm, rolling out upgraded services they believe can help create the best mix of OEM, aftermarket and salvage parts that can be delivered efficiently to shops with notable cost savings.

Could these services be right for your shop?

(Photo courtesy of Valet Auto Body) Trace Coccimiglio’s Valet Auto Body uses three different systems to get the best deal on OE parts.

They certainly have their fans, including some of the most successful shops and MSOs working today. If you haven’t explored the entire procurement market, now is probably a good time to start. With potential advantages like shorter cycle times, better products and lower costs, you might want to get into the game. Here’s what you need to know about these services, along with the steps you should take when deciding which provider(s) to add to your business today.

Know the players

Online parts procurement systems all function essentially the same way. After a shop creates the estimate, it exports a copy to the system (or multiple systems), which then provides a list of available parts, prices and vendors. The shop then either selects the parts it wants (based on price, location and reputation of the vendor, etc.) or signs off on the parts mix created by the system.

The goal of these systems is to streamline the ordering process, eliminating the need to make calls and reduce returns. Many systems allow shops to view parts to ensure accuracy. Others are available around the clock, allowing orders to be made after hours, and some provide other benefits such as tracking.

There are a number of available systems to choose from. Your local shop association and vendors are good places to start to build a full list. The best-known, largest systems include:

CollisionLink – ( Built by OEConnection, CollisionLink is designed to bring more OE parts into shops by matching parts on a repair estimates to discounted or competitively-priced OE parts (thereby making OE parts a more attractive option). CollisionLink matches estimates to “exclusive” parts programs from 13 different manufactures (including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz). The company also matches parts from every available brand and model.

After an estimate is imported into its system, CollisionLink provides a shop a list of available OE options from preferred vendors the shop selects, along with their prices. The system also displays the price an insurer will pay for a non-OE version. CollisionLink is supported by dealers and is free to shops, along with any training or support.   

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