Parts are a vital and complex part of any heavy-duty repair shop. That’s why having a dedicated parts manager is so important to the bottom line. Between keeping tabs on inventory, finding the best parts for jobs, balancing price against quality, and getting parts to the shop on time, it can be a challenging juggling act to perform.
Well, when the person managing parts drops the ball, techs can’t complete jobs, counter orders can’t be filled, and the business’s profitability goes down.
To ensure parts guys don’t block shop business, here are 7 essential duties all parts managers perform every day.
7 Parts Manager Duties
1) Sell Parts OTC
Selling parts over the counter (OTC) is another way shops can make money. It’s like having an Advanced Auto Parts on site, but it adds more work to parts manager duties. It’s an extra revenue stream that is most lucrative if you can simplify it. For example, you don’t want to go through a service order or quoting process just to sell a filter OTC to a customer. It would be better to quickly scan and check out the part.
What’s more, the parts manager needs to know what is in stock. When someone needs a part, you want to know whether you have the right one or if you need to order it to finish a repair ASAP.
2) Price Parts for Estimates
Pricing parts runs a fine line between science and art. Most shops have a methodology, but a lot of times, it’s in the parts manager’s head…or worse, mapped out with sticky notes around his office. It’s not an efficient or effective way to price parts. A parts markup calculator is useful, but the best way to handle parts pricing is to have a broader tool to keep everything organized.
Plus, there’s more to parts pricing when it comes to parts manager duties. You’ll rarely figure one price for a particular part. You might have different markups for different customers, different vendors, or different types of parts. It’s vital to keep those factors organized, too.
3) Create Purchase Orders and Order Parts for Jobs
Purchase orders, or POs, represent that someone authorized a purchase on behalf of your shop, and they record who did the authorizing. It’s the start of a trail that shows where every penny goes. Instead of using trailer, truck, or consecutive numbers, shops should have a system that generates unique PO numbers. That prevents someone guessing your system and making purchases your manager didn’t authorize.
It saves time and money to consolidate orders when ordering parts for techs to complete jobs. To do that, the parts manager has to know what is in stock, what is on order, what is coming in that day, and what all the techs in the shop need at any given moment.
That’s a lot to keep track of in your head!
4) Receive Parts
It’s vital to have a receiving process when parts come in. The three-way match is a basic, effective way to receive parts. It ensures that you don’t end up paying for the wrong parts or parts you didn’t order. It’s also where your POs are most useful. When parts come in, the parts manager looks at:
- The purchase order
- The vendor’s invoice (or packing slip)
- The parts themselves
The parts numbers, descriptions, and prices from your PO should match what’s on the invoice or packing slip. Plus, a visual inspection of the parts should match them up with the PO and invoice. The parts manager logs everything in to verify receiving the right parts in the proper process.
5) Return Parts to Vendors
Returning parts is a fact of life in a heavy-duty repair shop. Sometimes the vendor sends the wrong part, or sometimes the right parts arrive but it turns out they aren’t really needed after all. Whatever the issue, the parts manager is in charge of returning them. They keep track of what needs to go back, who in the shop has parts needing to be returned, what has already gone back, and they track vendors’ credit memos, too.
Then there’s the issue with dirty cores. They should be treated like any other parts in stock because that’s what they are until they’re returned to the vendor. So, you can add tracking and returning dirty cores to parts manager duties.
6) Manage Inventory
As part of managing inventory, the parts manager spends more money in a shop than anyone, and that’s a lot of responsibility to shoulder. It’s another balancing act, making sure every penny contributes to the shop’s bottom line. Inventory just sitting on the shelves doesn’t make money. That’s why some shops don’t even stock parts anymore, preferring to order what they need as they need it.
(That’s a whole other type of juggling—knowing how quickly you can get parts, and understanding what your shop absolutely has to stock to stay competitive. The current parts shortage has made this even more difficult, and now parts managers spend a lot of time trying to get what they need in a timely fashion.)
Your parts manager will also research parts, cross-reference part numbers, and know when a vendor’s “deal” is really a deal. For example, maybe your vendor will give you a break on fifth wheel plates if you buy a dozen of them…but it doesn’t make sense to buy a dozen fifth wheel plates if your shop only sells one a year.
Naturally, inventory cycle counts also fall under the purview of the parts manager. While it can be time-consuming, reconciling negative inventory daily should be a top priority. Staying on top of “missing” parts that bring inventory into the negative is essential for keeping shop profits healthy.
7) Oversee the Flow of Parts
All day long, every day, parts are flowing in and out of the shop. Orders come in, parts get used in jobs, some sit on the shelf in the parts room, and others need to get sent back to the vendor. The biggest task in the parts manager duties is overseeing all of that flow.
Your parts manager knows what’s coming in, what’s on the shelves, and which techs need what parts. They paper the wall in their office with sticky note reminders of what parts need to go back to vendors. If you don’t have a part but a nearby vendor does, your parts manager will also likely be the person who dispatches a runner to grab those parts and bring them back for a same- or next-day repair.
They also keep an eye on trends and make predictions: if a lot of customers are showing up with a particular brand of busted glow plug, for example, it may be time to switch brands—or perhaps everyone wants a certain type of turbocharger.
Every single day, your parts manager performs a kind of alchemy. They look at their own data as well as what they see in the shop and make critical decisions that will (hopefully) improve your business’s bottom line. And often they’re doing it all by themselves.
HOW CAN YOU MAKE THE LIFE OF YOUR PARTS MANAGER EASIER?
You already know Fullbay makes it way, way easier to manage your inventory. But we’ve got a brand-new way to give your parts manager even more breathing room: Fullbay Marketplace.
The Marketplace exists within Fullbay and connects you to parts vendors across the country. That’s right; you can find and price parts without ever lifting a finger (or making a phone call)—and it’s free to anyone using Fullbay.
Here’s what the Marketplace will display for each part:
- Pricing: How much each vendor will charge for a part.
- Ship dates: When you can expect the vendor to get the part in the mail.
- Vendor inventory: The Marketplace shows you how many parts of each type a vendor has in stock.
- Exclusive discounts: Since you’re a Fullbay user, you can get some pretty awesome markdowns from vendors like FinditParts.
And that’s just scratching on the surface!
We’re pretty sure the Marketplace is going to revolutionize the way you order parts—and it’s also going to take a weight off your parts managers’ shoulders. They’ve got enough to worry about without spending hours chasing down this part or that; by giving them access to a network of vendors that spans the U.S., you’re giving them every opportunity to source a part and get back to all their other duties.
Ready to give the Marketplace a try? Sign up for the beta test here—we can’t wait to help make your life even easier!