By Jack Miller, Service Company Solutions

Second in a three-part series on improving service profits through greater efficiency.

In the first installment of this series, we looked at ways to increase first call resolution. Now we turn our attention to parts. Here are some choice quotes on the subject:

“The black hole of appliance repair!”

“The bane of my existence!”

“I lose jobs because I can’t find parts.”

Sound familiar? We have heard and maybe even uttered these comments over the years. To be sure, parts, like many things, can be a huge time suck. Finding, tracking, returning, inventorying, and delivering parts can all be daunting tasks. But I have some tips and suggestions that may help.  

As with anything that involves inventory, everything is a measure of balance. We can think of it this way: Should I spend two hours looking for that $2 part? Probably not, unless it’s for a $200 repair, or if you can take that two-hour search down to two minutes. Then it’s a win-win situation.

There are hundreds of stocking locations and thousands of service companies with parts available when you need them. The question is, how much time do you spend looking for these parts before it is no longer cost effective? Do you open five or six browser tabs and log in to each account, then enter the part number in each tab with hopes of finding the item? If your parts distributors are out of stock, do you call another service company to find them?

No, you want to streamline the process and remove as much wasted time as possible. Doing so increases your efficiency while reducing your cost and frustration.

Here’s an option for doing just that.

Have you heard of MPH Search (formerly MyPartsHelp.com)? The program was developed over ten years ago by a servicer who was tired of spending hours every day looking for parts. His thinking: “Wouldn’t it be nice to see all of the information on one screen?” So, he started building a data aggregator program that would let him see all his accounts at once.  No more logging into multiple accounts or calling around to other servicers in search of parts. With this new program, he could see all the info on one screen in seconds, whereas it used to take five to 10 minutes per part, some of which may be out of stock or no longer available.

With enhancements, vendors were added (even if you don’t have an account) as well as other service companies willing to sell parts. Now, one could search nationwide with or without accounts and see hundreds of stocking locations almost instantly. 

And while we’re at it… you can add value to the parts you sell and charge for this premium service. 

Consider this: A customer needs a part. They think they have a few options. They can research it, find the exact part they need (hopefully), and then either order it online or drive to a store and buy it. 

If consumers order online, they will have to wait for it to ship, pay for delivery (typically), and hope it is the correct part. Consumers probably aren’t even aware they could end up with a knockoff part that may cause more damage. Most likely, they will pay the manufacturer’s suggested retail plus shipping, on top of waiting for that part to arrive. 

Or, they can try to figure out the part they need, find a parts retailer, drive to the store, purchase the part, and then drive back.  So, in this scenario, they are paying retail and spending personal time getting this part. 

And the part isn’t even installed yet.

Now, assume you are researching the part, ordering it with your years of experience, and hand-delivering to the customer’s home. And most likely repairing their appliance. Should you be selling this part to the customer for less than what they would be paying themselves? No. It would be best to be paid above and beyond the retail price to provide this additional service.

A markup over retail is often one of the areas that are overlooked when setting your repair and parts service pricing. Don’t be afraid to charge your worth for the value you provide in appliance repair service. 

Jack Miller is a managing partner at Service Company Solutions (SCS), a Bedford, N.H.-based software and resource development company that tailors its tools and products to the appliance repair industry.