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Thread: Dealer Parts Inventory - A lot or a little?

  1. #1
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    Post Dealer Parts Inventory - A lot or a little?

    This is more of a question/general thought for the people who work at a dealer.

    I've been at a few dealerships in the years I've been doing this, and I'm mainly curious, as far as your parts inventory, are you ordering more parts for customers, or do you keep a lot in stock? Without naming dealers or anything like that, I ask because it feels like the places I've been, have had to order a lot, due to ownership not wanting to keep stock for one reason or another, or cost of keeping that inventory, or whatever the case may be. It saddens me because this seems to lead to decreased sales, aggravated customers, and a generally unhappy work environment. Does this happen to anyone else? I kind of understand what the underlying issue is, and can only do so much to increase inventory, but I can't be the only one who's experienced this sort of situation in regards to in-stock inventory vs. ordering. These are just things that I've thought about that kinda really bug me from both ends of the spectrum (customer/supplier).

    Examples:
    -A dealer I once worked for had parts for 10 year old dirt bikes, but not an air filter for a newer streetbike.

    -Kept a boatload of air filters for newer vehicles, but not [insert semi-common failure part here for 5 year old bike].

    -Or not keeping a run of apparel/jackets for women due to very little interest/ few people inquiring.

    Thoughts? Again, without naming dealer names etc.

    (also, mods please feel free to move to wherever you see fit)

  2. #2
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    I have the same problem with my local dealer. A buddy of mine was a parts manager there and he said the owner wouldn't let him order hardly anything to keep in stock. The main parts they kept in stock was the normal maintenance items and crap they get deals on then can't sell. I guess that's why they get deals on it cause the crap don't sell lol. That's why I order all my stuff online, it's usually cheaper and I get it faster than the dealer.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by BU3LL View Post
    This is more of a question/general thought for the people who work at a dealer.

    I've been at a few dealerships in the years I've been doing this, and I'm mainly curious, as far as your parts inventory, are you ordering more parts for customers, or do you keep a lot in stock? Without naming dealers or anything like that, I ask because it feels like the places I've been, have had to order a lot, due to ownership not wanting to keep stock for one reason or another, or cost of keeping that inventory, or whatever the case may be. It saddens me because this seems to lead to decreased sales, aggravated customers, and a generally unhappy work environment. Does this happen to anyone else? I kind of understand what the underlying issue is, and can only do so much to increase inventory, but I can't be the only one who's experienced this sort of situation in regards to in-stock inventory vs. ordering. These are just things that I've thought about that kinda really bug me from both ends of the spectrum (customer/supplier).

    Examples:
    -A dealer I once worked for had parts for 10 year old dirt bikes, but not an air filter for a newer streetbike.

    -Kept a boatload of air filters for newer vehicles, but not [insert semi-common failure part here for 5 year old bike].

    -Or not keeping a run of apparel/jackets for women due to very little interest/ few people inquiring.

    Thoughts? Again, without naming dealer names etc.

    (also, mods please feel free to move to wherever you see fit)

    I've been in the industry since I was 16 and I've worked at a few dealers locally.


    This is what happens everywhere unfortunately.

    Usually someone orders something and it sits in stock because back in the day, in the case of your 10 year old dirt bike, it was customary to not prepay for a parts special order. Alas, once in awhile people didn't pick up the part they special ordered and it becomes dead inventory. I worked at a place once that would routinely run out of air filters for newer sport bikes but had a 2001 TL1000R upper fairing in stock, go figure?

    Many owners became gun shy about having a giant parts inventory, especially when it comes to apparel that people come to the store, try on, and then order online. Another, issue is Japanese OEM's would update their bikes so often it wasn't uncommon to run into issues of the stuff that was ordered as stock didn't fit the new models, so it would be phased out, and the older, and by older I mean 2 years older, stuff was special order only. Lastly, the internet has made it very hard for brick and mortar businesses to do business if you're half way smart you can find a parts fiche and order parts on your own from home making the dealer parts department pretty much obsolete.

    There is a way to fix it. I was reading an article in Dealernews about a Euro shop in California that made the decision to stop selling anything that the customer's couldn't buy anywhere else when it came to apparel. It increased their sales and their margins. If people like the licensed Ducati T-shirt that was in stock, that was the only place they could get it. It stopped them from having so many special orders for things that people would try on and buy online and would just sit in the store taking up inventory. I thought this was a good idea, but its two different kinds of clientele between Japanese and Euro, but it can work. The bottom line is that no one is going to have everything in stock all the time but knowing when to let stuff go using EBAY or having a swap meet or whatever now and then to free up dead inventory will help. The parts game is a hard one.

    One last thing. Many, and by many the overwhelming majority, of motorcycle dealers are small businesses. Usually owned by a sole proprietor. These aren't massive multi-line auto dealers who are owned by holding companies that have yearly sales in the tens of millions. They are usually a small business, some some slack needs to be cut now and then. Stupid things happen but remember, its not easy to be in business.
    Last edited by gixxerfrank; 08-07-2014 at 11:45 AM.

  4. #4
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    Appreciating the input guys, as I'm just a lowly parts guy who can only do so much, but yet I see a lot. I feel kinda helpless at times because I can remember days a few years back where I had a pretty good parts selection of actual usable stuff (as well as stuff that occasionally was old/didn't sell, etc.) and it made quite a bit of difference for all parties involved. Yet, going to local shops, and here I agree with you gixxerfrank, people can't keep much in stock due to the gun-shy mentality, or people simply finding parts online. I feel at times that I'm getting berated by customers/service staff for simply not having something like a carb kit for a quad, or a jet selection in stock, or an o-ring for an oil filter cover on a bike that hasn't been made in half a decade. But when I don't have the authority to really bring in that kind of inventory to just have sitting on a shelf to sell parts out of, there's nothing I can do, and it leaves me a bit uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, and I really do enjoy this industry, and would love to be able to do more when it came to stocking items that people need, but my hands are tied, and it reflects poorly on the business, and I hate that.

    Wow that was a bit of a rant. Sorry guys, didn't mean to go off like that. Heh.

  5. #5
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    With so many different bikes and different parts its 2 things... tough and kinda silly to keep items in stock that wont sell for a while. From what I've seen... and I've been kinda privy to a lot of shops and how they do things. They will keep items in stock that they know they can sell to many different owners... IE tank bags, gloves, and oils, cleaning products.

    No shop wants money sitting on a sales floor.

    The best bet IMO for a shop, would be to carry as many of these "stackable" items as possible. The bigger selection of these items you have the more people will come in and more importantly, as can be easily seen on TSB... that's what brings the word of mouth that is priceless... every shop wants to hear folks say... "go check out Voodoo Racing Shop, they have a million things you can try on"

    The biggest thing shops have to deal with is internet pricing. Its tough to beat a price you can find on the internet... Pure Acceleration did this better than any other shop I have seen. But... PA wasn't exactly a normal shop.
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    ps... I still heart Mel.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BU3LL View Post
    Appreciating the input guys, as I'm just a lowly parts guy who can only do so much, but yet I see a lot. I feel kinda helpless at times because I can remember days a few years back where I had a pretty good parts selection of actual usable stuff (as well as stuff that occasionally was old/didn't sell, etc.) and it made quite a bit of difference for all parties involved. Yet, going to local shops, and here I agree with you gixxerfrank, people can't keep much in stock due to the gun-shy mentality, or people simply finding parts online. I feel at times that I'm getting berated by customers/service staff for simply not having something like a carb kit for a quad, or a jet selection in stock, or an o-ring for an oil filter cover on a bike that hasn't been made in half a decade. But when I don't have the authority to really bring in that kind of inventory to just have sitting on a shelf to sell parts out of, there's nothing I can do, and it leaves me a bit uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, and I really do enjoy this industry, and would love to be able to do more when it came to stocking items that people need, but my hands are tied, and it reflects poorly on the business, and I hate that.

    Wow that was a bit of a rant. Sorry guys, didn't mean to go off like that. Heh.

    you're right about people becoming upset because you don't stock Seadoo 717 carb kits meanwhile they haven't made a 2 stroke engine since 2003. Its hard to please everyone and it's very easy to leave a bad taste in someones mouth over something like that. Keep you're head up man, its a tough gig.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by voodoo View Post
    With so many different bikes and different parts its 2 things... tough and kinda silly to keep items in stock that wont sell for a while. From what I've seen... and I've been kinda privy to a lot of shops and how they do things. They will keep items in stock that they know they can sell to many different owners... IE tank bags, gloves, and oils, cleaning products.

    No shop wants money sitting on a sales floor.

    The best bet IMO for a shop, would be to carry as many of these "stackable" items as possible. The bigger selection of these items you have the more people will come in and more importantly, as can be easily seen on TSB... that's what brings the word of mouth that is priceless... every shop wants to hear folks say... "go check out Voodoo Racing Shop, they have a million things you can try on"

    The biggest thing shops have to deal with is internet pricing. Its tough to beat a price you can find on the internet... Pure Acceleration did this better than any other shop I have seen. But... PA wasn't exactly a normal shop.

    This can backfire if you're dealing with people who will try it on and buy somewhere else. I knew a old parts manager from a shop years ago, who would change the sizes on helmets so when people did that they would order the wrong size lol. Still makes me laugh thinking about it.

  9. #9
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    ^^ That.. is flipping classic and makes me laugh. I do keep my head up because at the end of the day I get out and do what all of us do: ride. I just find it difficult at times because it's almost like politics lol. I actually really needed that laugh. I'm taking a vacation in October and I think I'm going to really use it to just get out of my head, take a step back from doing this day to day, and just kinda give my brain a refresh. Working the last 2 years straight has been kinda nutty. If I'm lucky I'm totally going to AIMExpo too lol.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BU3LL View Post
    ^^ That.. is flipping classic and makes me laugh. I do keep my head up because at the end of the day I get out and do what all of us do: ride. I just find it difficult at times because it's almost like politics lol. I actually really needed that laugh. I'm taking a vacation in October and I think I'm going to really use it to just get out of my head, take a step back from doing this day to day, and just kinda give my brain a refresh. Working the last 2 years straight has been kinda nutty. If I'm lucky I'm totally going to AIMExpo too lol.

    Coming from someone who got so burned out on it that I quit riding for awhile its a good thing to do. I have some fond memories and learned a lot working in shops, but when your hobby becomes your job it takes away from the joy. Get out there and enjoy yourself.

  11. #11
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    One of my influences on my inventory is what sells. After 12 months no sale, I send it back.

    The biggest problem is people assume because its newer it sells. Its not the case. I base what I have on what sells regularly.


    The biggest money vacuum in a dealership is the parts inventory. I float around 300k in parts. But people complain that we have to order the part they need. They always ask the same question, "why don't you have this part" I look at the history and I haven't sold one in 48 months. I tell them this and then they say "Well you should stock it cause people need it". I explained that is hasn't sold in 48 months.. again. He then says "because you don't have one to sell".

    Its a viscous cycle. Now once I have an order it only takes 2-3 days to get a part. Which 10 yrs ago it would be 5-7 days from day of order. The MFG's have step up and stock more and closer so we don't have to carry a million dollars worth of inventory.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drewster View Post
    One of my influences on my inventory is what sells. After 12 months no sale, I send it back.

    The biggest problem is people assume because its newer it sells. Its not the case. I base what I have on what sells regularly.


    The biggest money vacuum in a dealership is the parts inventory. I float around 300k in parts. But people complain that we have to order the part they need. They always ask the same question, "why don't you have this part" I look at the history and I haven't sold one in 48 months. I tell them this and then they say "Well you should stock it cause people need it". I explained that is hasn't sold in 48 months.. again. He then says "because you don't have one to sell".

    Its a viscous cycle. Now once I have an order it only takes 2-3 days to get a part. Which 10 yrs ago it would be 5-7 days from day of order. The MFG's have step up and stock more and closer so we don't have to carry a million dollars worth of inventory.
    +100000

    Some of it is also unrealistic expectations from the customer's. If you haven't sold on in 48 months it's not because you didn't have one to sell, it's because no one wanted/needed it.

    It's hard because its their baby, their pride and joy, and they would do anything to fix / accessorize it and when a place doesn't carry parts some people take it super personal.

  13. #13
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    If there is something specific I need, I at least call a couple of the local dealerships to see if they have it in stock so I can grab it right away. For example, when I needed a generator gasket in January, I called Barney's in Brandon and they had one more, so I got it. When it comes to pulling it up online, I hate paying $8 to ship a $9 gasket, or $5 shipping on a $2 bolt, and then have to wait a week for it to show up. I always try local shops first. Most times I've called though, they had to order it. And like Voodoo mentioned, I get my oil, filters, and coolant from the dealership.

    I do like to try gear on in store first. As we know, a large Joe Rocket likely fits differently than a large A-Stars. Helmets seem to have the biggest fitment variations. But on-line pricing for gear is really hard to beat.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bry View Post
    If there is something specific I need, I at least call a couple of the local dealerships to see if they have it in stock so I can grab it right away. For example, when I needed a generator gasket in January, I called Barney's in Brandon and they had one more, so I got it. When it comes to pulling it up online, I hate paying $8 to ship a $9 gasket, or $5 shipping on a $2 bolt, and then have to wait a week for it to show up. I always try local shops first. Most times I've called though, they had to order it. And like Voodoo mentioned, I get my oil, filters, and coolant from the dealership.

    I do like to try gear on in store first. As we know, a large Joe Rocket likely fits differently than a large A-Stars. Helmets seem to have the biggest fitment variations. But on-line pricing for gear is really hard to beat.
    When you don't have a storefront it can be. You should always deal with a local business when you can. Your helping your state, local and even community when you do.

    People complain when a great local business goes under because you wanted an item $10 less from an online outlet. Look at Manx, PA, and many other places that help everyone the best they could but go out of business when they lose to online sales.

  15. #15
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    Dealer Parts Inventory - A lot or a little?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drewster View Post
    .
    People complain when a great local business goes under because you wanted an item $10 less from an online outlet. Look at Manx, PA, and many other places that help everyone the best they could but go out of business when they lose to online sales.
    That is a wanking worthy post. When it comes to motorcycle gear I avoid online as much as possible because I like hanging out at these places. MEL WAS FRACKIN HOT!!!! Drew..... Not so much, but he usually had cookies.


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  16. #16
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    Couldn't read through every single word, but just my .02$

    Same thing happens with our store, I would love to keep more stock, but sometimes customers don't come back. I orders a $300 phone for a customer, and she never came back. Stuck with it for 6 month and that was money I could have spent on other expenses. Just numbers as an example. We buy 10 covers for a type of phone, 6 of them will sell after we have to fight with customers for discounts, and 4 of those we will have to put away and then give away a year later. Very hard to keep the fine line between profit and just wasting money.....
    "Beware of the lollipop of mediocrity. One lick and you'll suck forever!"Brian Willson

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by gixxerfrank View Post
    This can backfire if you're dealing with people who will try it on and buy somewhere else. I knew a old parts manager from a shop years ago, who would change the sizes on helmets so when people did that they would order the wrong size lol. Still makes me laugh thinking about it.
    I'm sure most shops have to deal with this but if they are comparable to internet pricing and offer great customer service... people will buy there.
    Follow the liter

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    Quote Originally Posted by voodoo View Post
    I'm sure most shops have to deal with this but if they are comparable to internet pricing and offer great customer service... people will buy there.
    People are dicks. I used to order alot of small stuff from PA and one day Mel told me I was one of their best customers and my jaw dropped because I never spent alot of big money there, just small amounts.

    ...people are dicks.
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  19. #19
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    Yeah, Mike, Mel, Geoff, and Kristen weren't in it to make a million bucks. They just seemingly wanted to help the Motorcycle community. Not many shops give ya that feeling anymore. Manx did at first but unfortunately, in the end I didn't get that feeling from them.
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by voodoo View Post
    Yeah, Mike, Mel, Geoff, and Kristen weren't in it to make a million bucks. They just seemingly wanted to help the Motorcycle community. Not many shops give ya that feeling anymore. Manx did at first but unfortunately, in the end I didn't get that feeling from them.
    It sucks man. Usually the shops that are true enthusiasts usually either go under or have to change to keep up. What happened with Manx if you don't mind me asking? It was a cool little shop.

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