COVID has messed up everyone’s supply chain. What used to be a 2-week shipping time is now a total game of chance, somewhere between one and six months to get a simple part – clutches are one of the worst right now, and most imported products are a nightmare.
This leaves shops with a challenging predicament for their customers. When do you take the car?
I see so many aftermarket performance and restoration shops with parking lots overflowing with cars, all waiting on parts. This is painful to see – it wastes your time every day, pulling them inside every night and pulling them out in the morning, they collect dust when you might not have even touched the car yet, and they risk getting dings and scratches from spending time in your parking lot.
My solutions for parts delays can be summarized into one word: communication. There are two specific ways in which communication with your customer can benefit both of you to have a smooth project completed.
Book the delivery only after all parts arrive
When doing large builds or repairs for customers, don’t take the car in until you have all the parts. Communicate with your customer – come up with a written job sheet that is signed by both parties. On it should be a minimum and maximum price, all the work that is to be done, and a deposit amount to get started. Once signed and paid, start ordering parts immediately.
Communicate with your customer that you do not want to take their car before all the parts have arrived for two reasons:
1. You are letting them continue to use it while the goodies pile up.
2. You are protecting their car from becoming another in the pile of unfinished projects sitting in the back of the shop, waiting for one last part that never shows.
Your shop will take time to build this project management strategy into something sustainable. Once you get a consistent lead time on parts, good relationships with your suppliers, and a predictable cycle for projects, you will find a calm project cycle to work in that works for you and your team.
Pre-sell all the “while you’re in there” goodies
Upselling in the middle of a big project is common. I frequently hear from shop owners about how a car was never supposed to sit around in the shop, but the customer decided to add on a few “while you’re in there” pieces to the project. So you ordered the parts, and now they’re delayed.
You can avoid this by being a good salesperson, and by sticking to this policy: if it’s not on the agreement, it’s not going on the car this time around.
Taking this approach saves you a significant amount of time and that bittersweet feeling when the customer accepts a painstaking and time consuming upsell. In addition, if there is a hose or a connector that might need replacing, this gives you the opportunity to buy it ahead of time. If it’s not needed, you can return it or hold it as inventory, and either way you’ll look good in front of the customer.
Try these strategies to lessen your number of dead projects, struck down by COVID supply chains. Let me know how it goes – email me at email@example.com.
Driven Performance Advisors
Driven Performance Advisors creates profitable, efficient, and stress-free $5M automotive aftermarket shops. Schedule a consultation at drivenperformanceadvisors.com. Subscribe to DPA Weekly at drivenperformanceadvisors.com/dpaweekly.