How to get the most out of your relationship
By Besor Fayas, Reliable Parts
There are two elements that can make or break any service company, and both involve lots of time and money.
The first is employees and/or service technicians, which are the biggest cost to any business. In the service industry they represent around 70% of all expenses.
The second-largest expense? Your parts bill. Managing and controlling parts costs has never been more important, and the good news is your appliance parts distributor (PD) can help.
PDs — like my company, Reliable Parts, a BrandSource service partner — are usually independent businesses that represent both the manufacturers and you, the service company. Many of their policies, guidelines or procedures are there as a result of a manufacturer requirement or for the protection of their products. These may involve the duration of part warranty period, return time frames, acceptable quality of parts returned, shipping damage claims and photos needed for damage claims.
One of the biggest causes of customer dissatisfaction with a PD is being unaware of their policies. Learning these policies will help ensure that your bottom-line efficiencies are maintained, and that you are taking advantage of all the things they can provide. (Have you reviewed the exclusive program Reliable Parts offers the BrandSource membership?) Afterall, you spend money on a regular basis with your PD; make sure you are getting the most for your hard-earned dollars.
Parts management, or lack thereof, can break any size service company very quickly. Knowing what was purchased and for which job, so the tech has the right part at the right time for the service call, is only half the battle. What if the part is not needed? What procedures do you have in place to route that part back to the main office or back to the PD? Will that part be needed for a job tomorrow or next week? Were precautions taken to ensure the part(s) will be accepted by the PD if you don’t use it?
Remember, the PD needs to resell that returned part to another technician, and that next technician expects a brand-new part that maintains a factory warranty. PDs are increasingly cautious of installed parts coming back into their warehouses due to the increase of electrical components in most machines, as well as the continued lack of supply on many items.
Understanding your parts usage data is increasingly important to your long-term viability. Knowing what to stock on your truck, what parts you buy consistently, and what parts you return most often are just a few of the ways PDs like Reliable can provide data. Are you opening shop in a new market or taking on a new manufacturer business channel? Understanding what is needed or knowing what to stock on your truck is crucial to your success, and the best PDs can provide this data for you.
Reliable Parts also competes for your business by offering various types of loyalty programs, carrying as many brands as possible, and by offering a plethora of training opportunities. (Make sure you are taking advantage of our training classes, both online and in person!) During the COVID years, Reliable provided an online class every two weeks. We know that there are very few appliance training schools across the country, with many only providing the basics to appliance repair, so Reliable has taken up this challenge and spent a considerable amount of time and expense to bring product-specific training to your local area.
Developing a strong business relationship with your local branch manager, customer service representatives or your account manager is also critical to your ongoing success. These people are the folks that make decisions at the local level. As my mother taught me, you catch more flies with honey rather than with vinegar. Being kind, trustworthy and communicative opens the door to more than strictly a business relationship. Are you returning a part one day after the expiration of your return period? Do you have all the photos needed by the manufacturer to help process a part damage claim? Do you need a report showing how much freight you paid last year? Your relationships with PD employees will help solve difficult situations.
Finally, funneling most of your business into one or two PDs means a service company doesn’t have to spend as much time searching for a part or the best price, and allows for better efficiency. Like other distributors, Reliable measures all aspects of your business when deciding pricing and freight terms. Volume of purchases, volume of returns, percentages of shipping damage claims, volume of part warranty claims and total costs to ship are some of the attributes that we measure on each account.
The more profitable your account is to the PD, the more they are willing to negotiate on price and freight agreements. Identifying the right PD that fits your business model is paramount to your business success.
Besor Fayas is vice president of sales for the Dallas-based Reliable Parts, a BrandSource partner and one of the largest appliance parts distributors in North America. A 19-year industry veteran, he has also served as a special advisor to the North Texas Community College Appliance Repair Program and is active in the Appliance Parts Distributor Association. Contact Besor at (877) 733-9241 x2831 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.