Data Is The Master Of Business
The era of doing what you’ve always done is over. Data is the new master of business. Just look at the need for the OEM part information, VIN data and part interchange information that is crucial to the industry. Data is also crucial within your system. The reports generated by inventory management systems help auto recyclers make critical salvage acquisition decisions. Data identifies what vehicles are desirable based on sales and inquiries.
Put your time into reading what your data is telling you. Use the professionals at Car-Part.com, Hollander Powerlink, CCC Pinnacle or whatever inventory system you use. Ask them “how can I look at my data differently today?” Engage a consultant to interpret your data and give advice based on the information. The data in your system can provide meaningful insight to business decisions but only if your data is ready to tell the story.
If you haven’t picked up on the fact that your competitors are selling core parts then read my lips “your competitors are selling more and different parts as cores these days to make money.” That function is entirely data driven. Engage one or more core buyers or subscribe to an integrated core buying / selling system and sell core parts from your inventory. Simple and straightforward for those auto recyclers that are not yet doing it - there should be some increased sales realized immediately after you start. I suspect most recyclers have been selling cores in innovative ways. Where the chain has a kink is that many recyclers are not mining information from their inventory data to redirect the labor efforts at the salvage facility. That mean parts pullers for retails sales and for wholesale (core) sales are both important jobs. It also means buying salvage with core sales in mind instead of as an afterthought.
The norm is about the quality of data in the system. In my past career I was a computer analyst. The mantra of computer geeks back then was “garbage in, garbage out.” A significant portion of a computer programmer’s time was spent managing clients to put quality data into the online database to be utilized to provide insight to the manufacturing company, who was General Motors. The same can be said for the business of de-manufacturing automotive parts. The quality of the inventory process became increasing more important when the world of commerce became the world of e-commerce. More parts in your inventory system means: more opportunity for retails sales or more opportunity for a core buyer to select parts. Better quality part descriptions, such as accurate damage codes or uploaded photographs, provides an edge over competitors. The quality of data is directly linked to the increased opportunity for sales. Time spent enhancing data quality is absolutely mandatory now.
The availability of data to consumers has made this industry a shared marketplace. Once you’ve embraced putting more parts (more data) and quality data in your inventory system then you must bring those goods to market. That is also a data-driven task.
With cores, the integrated system or the core buyer gleans data from your system based on the data entered. Different from core parts, repair parts markets are also driven by data entered but have an additional data dilemma, how to get your parts seen by the consumer? Data from your system must be available to the customer to even be in the running for part sales.
Online systems that sell to repair shops (PartsTrader) open data-driven marketplaces by pairing used auto parts stores (recyclers) with repair shops through an online system usually requiring registration or subscription. These systems match auto recyclers with auto repair shops they had not been doing business with previously. Embrace change as an opportunity to put your parts in front of new buyers. Maintain an edge by providing good quality data.
Buying groups or trading partners (Team PRP, IPart, Elite Line, etc.) are wholesale systems that help a consortium (a group) of recyclers sell wholesale parts to one another. Data integrity is addressed upfront in these groups by mandating shipping standards or parts grading assurances.
The final frontier in data-driven retail parts sales is direct to the consumer (PartCycle.com, UNeedAPart, HollanderParts.com, etc.). Online searches and apps make this possible as long as the auto recycling industry provides data by listing parts or sharing parts-inventory data. Quality data is the key. Like repair shops, consumers make choices based on price, quality and availability. The quality of your part is only as good as the data presented to the decision maker.
The challenge lies in getting consumers to look at used parts as a viable cost-savings alternative to new parts, but that is another matter that can only be addressed once auto recyclers supply data to any or all of the systems available now and in the future.
Once your data input has increased in quality and quantity, the information should paint a different picture than before. Your buying habits may change. Your manpower will be re-allocated to prioritize data management. And, I hope that you will be able to mine more parts from your existing inventory, present more parts to the market and have your data help you work smarter not harder.
Sue Schauls is an independent environmental consultant with automotive expertise. She is the Iowa Automotive Recyclers Executive Director and the I-CARE Program Manager Contact Sue via www.SueSchauls.com.