Heads up, everybody: the parts shortage isn’t just going away.
We’ve talked about what caused the shortage and how it’s impacted shops and fleets across the country. Unfortunately, that parts shortage isn’t going anywhere. Yes, the post-pandemic economy is starting to chug along again, but shops everywhere are still having trouble sourcing the parts they need.
If you’re a regular blog reader (or if you get our emails!), then you know Fullbay has launched a parts-buying marketplace within the app (with our first partner, FinditParts) in an effort to get on top of the parts shortage and make the sourcing troubles a thing of the past. If you didn’t know, or you just want more information, then our latest webinar is absolutely for you.
In it, Jacob and Chris chatted with David Seewack, Founder and CEO of FinditParts, to dig into the origins of the parts shortage, highlight the current efforts shops must undertake to purchase the parts they need, and discuss what they hope will be the future of parts purchasing.
Before jumping into things, Jacob asked attendees how impacted they were by the parts shortage. Fifty-two percent replied that they were deeply impacted; forty-eight percent indicated that they were somewhat impacted. No one got away without some damage.
That inability to source parts extends to customers, especially fleets. Here’s what they’re facing in a nutshell:
- Increased downtime and loss of revenue
- Skipped inspections and non-critical repairs
- Extended vehicle replacement cycles
Any one of these things alone is bad news, but if fleets aren’t running, then the supply chain is suffering—and, well, we know that’s not good. It starts with higher prices on everything and ends in a Fury Road situation.
Fortunately, we still have time to right the ship, although it’ll take time and some shifting of current practices. We encourage you to watch the entire webinar, but if you can’t, check out our recap below and remember: Keep calm and keep trucking on!
So, what caused the parts shortage?
One of the biggest influences on our current shortage is the supply chain’s reliance on “just-in-time” ordering. If a shop needs a part, they call out for it—no matter where the part is made. We live in a global economy; thanks to fast, mostly cheap shipping, parts usually arrived when they were needed.
The world seemingly shut down—and so did parts manufacturing and shipping—and sadly, Jacob says, “You don’t just flip a switch” to turn things back on. The pandemic shook up the entire production chain, from raw materials to finished products. And then, even when parts do get made and shipped, they may wind up stuck on a cargo vessel off the coast of California.
But just because there aren’t parts doesn’t mean we don’t need parts. A shop tries to get something in and can’t find it. “Some shops are folding up just not being able to find resources,” Chris says. “We’re seeing, this year, shops who maybe have two or three suppliers. They can’t get the parts, they’re losing business…and suddenly they’re out of business.”
How can shops mitigate the damage?
So, we know there’s a shortage. What can you, as a shop owner, do to make things better for your operation until they actually get better?
The most important step is communicating with your customers.
If you can’t get a part, you can’t get a part—but make sure your customer knows that. “There are timing issues here, and delays, and expectations that may not be met,” Jacob acknowledges, but erring on the side of over-communication and transparency will be your friend here.
Chris suggests utilizing a triage bay and doing everything in your power to figure out what’s wrong with a truck before tearing it apart—particularly if a truck is in for preventative maintenance and doesn’t necessarily need a new gasket right now.
The guys also suggested being proactive with planning repairs and ordering parts, but also—this is a big one—resisting the urge to massively increase your inventory. The answer to the problem is not stocking every part you can find. Instead, view the parts sitting on your shelf as stacks of bills. Stocking up becomes overstocking, and that can just tank your capital.
But you do need to be able to find parts. Here are a few things you can try:
- Expanding preferred local vendor lists: if you have three vendors you like, double it to six
- Look at non-local vendors
- Buy parts from competitors
- Go online!
- Search salvage yards
If you’ve read this far, you may be sighing: That’s a lot of work, Fullbay.
It is…and that’s why we’re pleased to tell you there’s a better way.
Can Fullbay help me get through the parts shortage?
Yes. We can make it way, way easier to get the parts you need when you need them—without searching salvage yards or spending hours on the phone.
Imagine getting a part in just three steps:
- You’ll search for the part you’re looking for
- You’ll select the part that works
- You’ll order that part
Fullbay itself is hoping to lead the charge on this method with Fullbay Marketplace. We’ve partnered with FinditParts to let shops order the parts they need, at the prices they want, from directly within the app. The feature and partnership broadens your parts-sourcing powers, letting you see parts from vendors all over instead of just the handful in your neighborhood.
“We also show cross-reference numbers,” David points out. “We’re offering and showing you alternatives to the part you’re looking for in the event that you need to source that part.”
All told, it’s a powerful tool to add to your shop’s arsenal and a potential lifeline for operations that have been struggling to source the parts they need.
Keep calm and keep trucking on.