February '21

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rv-pro.com February 2021 • RV PRO • 77 to stock these "got-to-have" items at a slightly higher days of supply level. • Meeting with your parts and service personnel to discuss a cannibalization process to be used if a needed item cannot be procured from your suppliers but might be available on an RV in your inventory. (Of note: This would pertain to situations where the urgency of getting the customer on the road was the primary objective.) • Developing a list of alternate sources for parts and accessories, such as other RV businesses or salvage yards – factors in this case would be the cost of the item(s), the size of the item(s), and the shipping costs. If additional costs are incurred, perhaps discussing the situation with your customer could result in the customer offering to absorb some of these excess costs. • Determining which of your suppliers will drop-ship an item to a customer, which minimizes shipping costs and reduces the lead time. • Training your parts associates to record all demands for parts and accessories so that your parts manager can determine if any of these requested items should be stocked and/or stocked at greater levels. (This includes lost sales, which frequently are not recorded.) Customer Transactions Many "brick-and-mortar" retailers have experienced substantial decreases in their sales volumes due to the pan- demic. Even some large, established retailers have declared bankruptcy or have permanently closed their operations. However, many retailers that offer internet sales options to their customers and prospective customers have substan- tially increased their business volumes. Here are a few questions that you might ask of your parts manager with regard to her marketing plans and/or procedures: • How do your customers and/or prospective customers learn how to contact your business online? (e.g., are they provided with your website information when they purchase an RV, buy parts or accessories, of have their RV serviced?) • If they do an internet search for a part or accessory, does your RV business' website appear at or near the top of the first page of search results? • What internet capability do you offer to your cus- tomers and/or your prospective customers? Or, do cus- tomers send you an email with a request for parts and/ or accessories? • Who is assigned to monitor the internet communi- cations? How frequently does this person monitor these internet communications? What is the required response time to an internet inquiry for parts and/or accessories? How do you know this? • In the recent 12-month period, have your internet inquiries and sales increased year-over-year? Many customers in 2020 were first- timers. Who are these first-timers? What are their needs? How have you changed your parts and accessories offerings to meet their needs? For instance, have your parts associates created checklists of goods and materials that could assist these first-timers in having positive, fun RVing experiences? Adding suppliers might help ensure that the parts department has sufficient in-demand RV accessories and parts.

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