Who Has the Quality Parts – In the collision repair industry, replacement parts are critical time is everything. Rarely do we hear that anybody has too much time on their hands and in most cases, and in most shops, time means money. The faster you can get the vehicle moving through the repair process the faster you can return it to your customer, which is why knowing which vendor can supply you with quality parts is so critical.

Shop managers don’t have time to worry about whether or not the vendor is going to send them a quality part and they certainly don’t have time to send a part back once it’s been received. In most cases, shop management is all about process, vision and timing and one little glitch can throw the entire process into mayhem. Tip: Make a list of all of your vendors and rank them in terms of quality of product and timeliness of delivery. This will allow you and your team better understand who can be relied upon when you are counting on quality and just-in-time delivery.

Delivery Time – Speaking of time, it’s important to know which of your partners can consistently deliver parts to your operation and at what time of the day. As stated above, managers cannot afford to spend their day worrying about what will and won’t arrive on time. Tip: Once you’ve created the “Quality List” (mentioned above) rank those partners that consistently deliver the parts on time. Be sure to effectively communicate your expectations to your vendors, such as guaranteed delivery times, order cut-off times, and discount structure.

Casting the Net – While having your “go-to” guys is great, it’s also important to build an extensive network of vendors just-in-case you need them. In addition to building your bench, by developing a long list of resources you will also create a greater network of colleagues and experts who can provide alternate perspective and perhaps even enhanced service. Tip: Once you’ve identified the vendors that deliver both Quality and exceptional Delivery Time, create a separate “Bench” of qualified vendors that you can rely on when necessary.

Invest in the Relationship – Finally, don’t let any of your vendors exist as just vendors. Nurture and maintain the relationship as if it were a customer. In doing so you, you may just gain back that precious time that was once lost. (For more on vendor relationship management (or VRM) please see the following article: The Rise of the Vendor Relationship)

Authored by Brian Riggs and Joe DiMonte, Rocco’s Collision