Electronic Parts Ordering Makes
Diane Larson, AAM
"Most electronic parts programs now allow input of the vehicle identification number (VIN) instead of entering vehicle information. It is best to use the VIN feature, when available, or use a VIN crossover tool to make sure you are inputting the correct information. Pull up the crossover tool, input the OEM part number and quickly see the correct aftermarket part numbers to compare and order.
"This is so important: The wrong information may result in getting the wrong part, holding up your techs, bays and clients and adding expense to the parts supplier. Also, if when ordering, you are faced with a question, don't guess - stop and get the correct specifications, like antilock brake system (ABS), four-wheel drive (4wd), wheel base, gross vehicle weight (GVW) or production date. It can make a huge difference in ordering and receiving the correct part in a timely manner.
"Get a copy of the registration for each new vehicle that comes into the shop. Having the registration makes having the correct information so easy. Once the registration is copied, you have the correct VIN and address info, which should be immediately put into your shop's management program and then enhanced by any missing information the VIN crossover may not supply - production date, brake type, ABS, transmission, 4wd, etc.
"This information, once entered into the database, is now available every time you service this vehicle and order parts. Having the correct information means ordering and getting the right part.
"When ordering parts online, it is awesome to have all the questions that the parts people used to ask right in front of you for you to answer. Now we know why the counter people asked us all those silly parts people questions (PPQs). They are needed to get us the right part - the first time, quickly and efficiently.
"Many electronic parts catalogs have a function to input the part information right into your management program. How sweet is that! Quickly look up the right part, click ... it's on your work order, click ... it's now ordered and in the process of being shipped to you.
"Most of your suppliers will set you up with a link for online ordering and some of them will even provide an additional monthly bonus based on parts purchased online. You are saving them money ordering online by not tying up a counterperson and increasing the probability of getting the right part every time. Your parts supplier may pass that savings on to you.
"Most of the parts we order have a picture of the item being ordered, and this is so helpful when there are choices, such as an electrical connector. Our technicians can visually see and compare the part being ordered to be sure it is the correct part they need. The right part, the first time!
"The advantage of instantly knowing real-time inventory from our suppliers has certainly streamlined our parts ordering process. We immediately know if a part is in stock, when it can be shipped or if we need to source the part elsewhere. We can quickly evaluate whether waiting for a longer delivery may be worth the cost savings."
Bill Moss, AAM, owner, Ferris Automotive Inc., Warrenton, Va. -
Bill Moss, AAM
"Depending on your vendor and/or interface, online or electronic parts ordering doesn't need to be an 'either or' process. In most cases, you can use the electronic interface when it is convenient and speak to a human being when you need a parts professional's assistance. This is an important thing to remember. The only reason to change what you do is to add value, save time or gain some additional benefit to what you are doing.
"For example, we use electronics for stock orders, estimating work orders and general ordering. But, when getting the correct part is dependent on variables that we are not familiar with, we call a professional. Often, the solution is easier than it seems, and armed with that information, we know more the next time we encounter a similar situation.
"No matter how you order your parts, collecting data about the car is becoming more and more critical. With the amazing amount of options available now, we have redesigned our courtesy inspection form to be a 'go to' data collection form. This is to enhance the basic data collected at the drop-off. The drop-off form includes name, address, phones, e-mail address, year, make, model, color, license plate number, mileage, transmission, VIN and production date.
"The courtesy inspection form covers engine size, ABS, traction control, all-wheel drive, tire size and brand, state safety inspection date (as applicable). We also have a section for the tech to make notes. This may include notes about vehicle condition or any modifications that exist on the vehicle.
"This data collection has proven helpful regardless of how we procure parts. The more answers you have on the first call, or click, the better."
Dave Kusa, owner, Autotrend Diagnostics, Campbell, Calif. -
"Most management systems will allow the user to transfer the part from the online source directly to the repair order and then order the part directly from the repair order.
"Also, the system will allow ordering inventory from the electronic catalog and will automatically update the inventory for you.
"Electronic catalogs are becoming more accurate with the use of a VIN filter and pictures of the parts attached to the catalog.
"In addition, when using a parts markup matrix, the part cost will be properly marked up when transferred to the repair order."
Howard Pitkow, AAM, owner, Wagenwerx Inc., Wyndmoor, Pa. -
Howard Pitkow, AAM
"I use electronic ordering for the majority of my parts purchases. Being able to input a VIN and come up with the correct part number on my own, coupled with having access to real photographs, is the main advantage.
"Another advantage is having the catalog available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This has saved me when I needed to order a part last minute. On occasion, I may order online late at night or early in the morning before leaving for work.
"Fewer mistakes are made when ordering online. I like that I can input a particular part number from my system to place an order. Ordering by the actual part number is usually even better than using a VIN. In addition, ordering online makes it easier to track orders too. I have a complete record of my purchases, returns and cores right at my fingertips.
"Ordering online gives you choices of parts that may go along with the job you are performing. While ordering online you may see something else that you need but may have forgotten about had you instead placed the order by phone.
"In the example below, notice the different size brake rotors. This is where we need to stop and measure before ordering to be sure we are ordering the correct part! Before I order, I am informed as to where the parts are located and whether the parts are in stock.
"The electronic catalog and ordering system is helpful to the shop wanting to control the quality and price of parts they purchase. It also provides time savings in phone calls. Does online ordering totally eliminate phone calls? No. On occasion, speaking with a knowledgeable parts person is best; for example, when ordering a time-sensitive, special order part or to clarify a part description.
"Just think about how many hands touch that part before it gets to your shop. It's just good common sense to remove as many obstacles as possible and make the parts ordering process easier for you, your technician and your customer.
"Will using electronic parts ordering help relieve some headaches? Let's hope so."
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