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During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve evaluated every aspect of our business, much like many collision repair facilities around the country. One area we paid particular attention to was our parts procurement process and inventory management. Not only does this have a tremendous impact on cycle time, but it can make or break your profitability model.
With three locations in Ohio – CARSTAR Sidney, CARSTAR Troy and CARSTAR Piqua – our ability to get quality parts and materials efficiently dramatically determines how we can get vehicles repaired and back to customers. If parts aren’t available or don’t fit, it can extend our cycle time, touch time and length of rental.
We’ve found that the key to smart procurement practices includes great jobbers, trusted parts vendors and robust rebate/discount opportunities through the CARSTAR network.
As far as paint materials and supplies, we have been blessed with an excellent jobber who keeps a great deal of inventory in stock. This has enabled us to operate very lean in our paint and materials inventory, which helps cash flow. This lean approach has worked well for both of us, so we will continue these procedures going forward.
As far as procurement of parts, we haven’t seen too much of a challenge. With price matching programs, it usually works out that we can use OEM parts. It’s a balancing act, and the fine line gets tighter each year. It’s something I’m always watching, and hopefully we can keep everything as is because I feel it works for all parties involved.
We work closely with a local dealer on our parts needs. When Ohio shut down, we had a backup dealer service us without missing a beat. It was a little crazy during that time, but it has returned back to normal for us now.
One thing we are committed to is buying products made in the USA whenever possible. I’m old school and believe that you take care of those who take care of you. Our parts vendors have done a great job of getting us parts – they all understand how important cycle time is to us. We are careful to use our trusted vendors to ensure we aren’t getting substandard parts.
Advantages of a Network
One tremendous advantage is the purchasing power of the CARSTAR network, backed by parent company Driven Brands. With their ability to buy on behalf of more than 4,000 automotive retail facilities and franchisees, they can provide robust rebate programs and discounts with key vendor partners. By buying through the CARSTAR network, we’ve been able to benefit from preferred pricing and inventory availability. Plus, they were able to help us negotiate extended payment terms during the pandemic, which helped us manage our operations.
Now, as our team maps out our inventory needs and procurement needs for the future, we plan to keep our lean inventory management process in place, continue to rely on our trusted vendors and take advantage of the procurement resources at CARSTAR.
Tom Martin is the owner of three CARSTAR locations in Ohio – CARSTAR Sidney, CARSTAR Troy and CARSTAR Piqua. He started working in a collision repair shop at 15, then went on to purchase the business. He joined CARSTAR in 2003 with his first location. He opened his second CARSTAR location in 2014 and a third in 2019. He has long been a champion of advanced technology and also training for his team. He also donates his time to a variety of volunteer organizations, veterans in need, the homeless and youth sports. He can be reached at [email protected].