These are more critical times for many businesses, and restylers are no exception. We all try to do our best to cut corners, be more effective and tighten up our business practices. But some of the more basic and easily achieved methods are as close as a phone call to the many WDs that dot our business landscape.
Yet, there are those who may not know what our network of WDs has to offer. And what they can offer might just help you when that customer asks for that part you don’t happen to have on your warehouse shelf.
We talked to a selection of the some of the top WDs in the biz and grilled them on what they can offer to shops to help make work and business more efficient. What they had to say is must reading even if you’re a veteran shop owner. After all, a little tweak here and some small changes there can add up to making a big difference in your bottom line.
Efficiencies of economy
We got right to the point and first asked how WDs can help retailers become more inventory-efficient and use WDs as their partners. Chuck Deringer of Automotive Concepts, Horsham, Pa., came up with several good ideas when he said, “One thing we like to do to help retailers become more inventory efficient is offer a drop-ship program at no additional charge to our customer. We also keep our customers educated on fitment of various applications. If one set of door handles fits numerous vehicles, we make sure our customers know so they are not stocking unnecessary inventory. Also, all of our boxes are clearly marked with part numbers and descriptions so they can be easily identified in inventory storage racks.”
Malen Reger is the general manager of Motovicity Distribution, of Madison Heights, Mich. He has the added advantage of being a former manager of a restyling shop and says, “I think that one of the things we learned over the years is that our job is to get parts to them quickly and in a timely and efficient manner. We’ve also leaned that they can purchase from a warehouse more streamlined and efficiently.”
At Premier Performance Products in Rexburg, Idaho, Joe Richards gets into more detail and says, “We subsidize [retailers’] inventory in the fact they can stock the essentials, and we replenish or fulfill what they need, quickly.”
“We have the buying power and relationships with the manufacturers that allow the retailers to focus more on the consumer and less on how to get the products and having a variety of products on their shelf. With this minimal approach, retailers have more showroom space instead of inventory space and more working capital to build their business instead of sitting on products. We can offer them more than they can afford on their own and in a timely manor.”
Lane Carter, from Cincinnati-based Restylers’ Choice, told us the simple fact that retailers always need to remember, and sums it up with, “WDs are a warehouse. The retailers don’t need to stock inventory because we warehouse it. They can get what they sell from us.”
Quick turnaround’s importance
Our second question was: Can the WD serve as the restyler’s quick-turnaround partner, and how? Carter from Restylers’ Choice was quick to answer with, “Yes, absolutely, because they’ve (the WDs) got the inventory. The way that we’ve set up our warehouse, there’s no place in the United States that we can’t get a shipment to in two days or less.”
Motovicity’s Reger points out how many WDs see themselves in the marketplace. “Our job is to stock product; that’s what we do,” he says.
“Open communication is important,” he adds. “Sometimes we might not stock every part from every manufacturer, but we listen; and when [retailers] tell us, we then stock that item or items. We have an advanced computer system and work with the manufacturers. We can send product back that, maybe, isn’t selling for the ones that are. We are big into accessories for restyling.”
Richards talks about shipping and returns at his company: “Premier offers a free drop-ship program where we can ship products from any one of our four locations to the end user. We cover over 90% of the U.S. within two days on regular UPS Ground Freight and almost 40% of the U.S. within one day on UPS Ground Freight. Customers receive the products as they need them and do not need to wait for an order to come in from a manufacturer. We have it on the shelf for them. On the flip side of returns, we can handle their returns for them and further increase their productivity by being the middleman representing the manufacturer. So they only have one call for all their needs and (won’t) waste time tracking everything down.”
Chuck Deringer explains how his company does business, commenting, “Automotive Concepts understands that things need to get done quickly in the automotive industry. That is why we ship all of our in-stock products the same business day ordered up until almost 4 p.m.We give our customers the choice between UPS and FedEx, and all air delivery options so they can choose what method best suits their needs.”
“We also work very hard to ensure that we stock fast-moving items and know what the hot items are in the current market so our customers don’t have to wait weeks for the products necessary for them to make money now.”
Our third question had to do with incentives. We asked: Do WDs offer incentives and what are they?
While these suppliers told us about many of their incentives, they also explained they have a number of incentives that are of a more timely nature. That is to say that when they told us about them as we interviewed them, the specials might be over by the time you’re reading this. We quickly learned it’s best for restylers and shops to keep in contact with WDs, if for nothing more than to stay abreast of the many opportunities they offer.
The suppliers still did share many new and enticing ideas for incentives, starting with Reger from Motovicity. He pointed out a seldom-used advantage of bundling and package deals. Reger told us that multipart shipments from various manufacturers his company uses can help restylers “save themselves some money on freight and get faster shipping time instead of [separately ordering] from numerous suppliers.”
“They can get all their parts at the same time. It’s not very efficient for the shop or customer to come back for another installation. Sometimes we put package deals together; we create a bundle pack of related products. We also do a really good job of POP (point of purchase) materials for displays. Most of our guys have worked in a shop, so they know what to do. It also makes the shop look educated. It’s also our job to make sure the shop owner or worker is well informed on product knowledge.”
Added Carter from Restylers’ Choice: “We have a $500 freight free program. We make monthly specials and we work specials with our manufacturers and our customers.”
Deringer from Automotive Concepts points out another aspect when he says, “The first and most important incentive that we offer our customers is the desire to offer the most exceptional customer service in the industry. We feel that the personal attention we offer each customer, no matter if they are buying a $50 part or a $5,000 stock order, is what sets us apart from the rest.”
On the subject of incentives, Deringer says that “from time to time, we offer free shipping specials and also percentage discounts on all orders.”
Perhaps one of the most valuable pieces of information on how a dealer can utilize WDs more efficiently came from Richards. He broke it down to what every shop should believe and practice almost religiously when he said, “Dealers are limited to their buying power without a WD. We do the investment for them in stocking product with a broad selection and depth in inventory. This breadth and depth works in their financial and customer satisfaction favor. Premier creates pull-through marketing for them with advertisements, and forwards referrals their way.”
His company, he adds, “prides itself on having a zero-retail policy. The industry is competitive enough that the last thing a retailer needs is their supplier to also be their competitor.” Further, Richards notes that his company “gives the customer the piece of mind that they are getting taken care of by the best in the business and we are truly their partner not a competitor.”
“Knowledge base is another factor,” Richards reminds. “‘We know the parts, not just the part numbers’ is a slogan of ours that we take seriously. We train weekly with vendors, and we hire specifically for the skill set needed to be an enthusiastic gearhead and have a passion for what we do. A customer can call us with a problem or a simple ‘what would you recommend’ and get an honest answer to help them. We need to be the best to supply the best and by providing the power to perform both on the showroom floor and on the road. We hold ourselves to being the best.
“Our website allows customers to shop 24/7, 365 days a year and they have their pricing and inventory levels at their fingertips. Some may say, ‘I don’t need a WD.’ But in today’s competitive market, it gives a business owner a whole new dimension to their business by expanding their offerings and receiving the information they need to be at the top of their game.”