You’re invited to a repair party. Labor and the actual repair are included, but you must BYOP.
No, it’s not a fun new tune or the sound oil makes when it starts draining from an engine. It means bring your own part, and while it’s not quite the latest craze sweeping the industry, it’s definitely becoming kind of a big deal
BYOP first came to our attention during a recent webinar—or more accurately, the comments section in a recent webinar. One of the participants dropped a question into chat: You guys seeing more customers bringing in their own parts?
Immediately the responses began flooding in. Yes, just about everyone had some experience in the matter. Some allowed it, some did not, some attached certain conditions to it.
Being interested in all things diesel, we set out to educate ourselves. Are customers showing up at repair shops with parts in hand?
“It happens,” says Wayne Radbourne, Service Manager at Adrenaline Diesel in Edmonton, Alberta.
Glen Grader and Andrew Pope—President and Vice President of Integrity Fleet Services in North Pacific, Washington—agree. They see it requested more from big fleets that have a lot of buying power, but also from smaller owner-operators who are operating on a shoestring budget. They refer to it as “customer-furnished parts.”
“If they can save a few bucks by getting the parts themselves,” Glen says, “especially a larger part, or a big cost—we usually don’t push too much on that.”
Of course, it’s rarely just a matter of a customer waltzing in with a turbocharger and a shop just installing it, no questions asked. Shop owners and service managers need to consider several factors to protect themselves and their customers (as well as everyone sharing the road with them).
PARTS IS PARTS
Before we go any further, let’s point out that this is not an entirely new and unheard-of phenomenon. Customers have probably always brought in their own parts. We’re hearing more about it now due to supply chain squeezes and the steady price increases in all sectors—and as a result, everyone’s looking to save a little time and money. Some have turned to the Fullbay Marketplace to source parts; others broaden their vendor network. And sometimes a customer winds up with a part and says, “Hey, can we use this?”
While saving a bit of cheddar is part of the rationale for some customers, Glen and Andrew point out that others just have more buying power than shops. Wayne confirms that some of Adrenaline’s customers just have better access to parts, too. If they can walk into a dealership and buy a part off the shelf and produce it at the time of repair, well, why not use it?
Glen brought up an important point that’s hitting the industry all over: delays in getting parts. Various supply chain snarls have contributed to the parts shortage, which means a shop may have to sit on its hands waiting for something to arrive. If a customer shows up with a part that would otherwise take three weeks to get there, they get their vehicle back all the sooner.
Peter Cooper, Director of Operations at Absolute Repair in Cumming, Iowa, echoes this sentiment. His shop works on a lot of customized and otherwise heavily modified vehicles, and some of his customers—well aware of what can happen on the road—know that certain parts are in short supply and often travel with them in case their vehicles break down on the road. “Those parts are usually hard to get,” he notes, “and it isn’t ethical to tie up a customer for a week to get a part that they’ve got in their hand.”
ARE SHOPS OK WITH THIS?
The shops in the webinar chat took varied stances on the BYOP issue; their responses ranged from “HAHAHAHA” to “we do it sometimes” to a flat refusal to take the work. If you’ll excuse another acronym, YMMV (your mileage may vary), but Adrenaline, Integrity Fleet Services, and Absolute Repair have taken on a more relaxed stance.
“It is what it is,” Wayne says. “If you can get me the part faster than I can get it myself, then I’ll fit it.”
Adrenaline makes sure customers sign off on a work order that indicates they’ve provided their own part. They will warranty the labor, but not the part itself—customers will have to check with the place they got the part from to learn more about its warranty.
While BYOP isn’t a new phenomenon, its uptick in popularity does have its roots in the pandemic. “Everyone was getting squeezed,” Glen tells us. “Cash flow was difficult at times. If I can keep a $15,000 purchase off of our books and have somebody else deal with it, and still do the labor portion, we would be perfectly happy to do that.”
If your customer doesn’t settle up until 30 to 60 days after service is provided, that kind of cost savings can become a big deal—especially when times are tight.
Peter also cited customer experience as a large component of the BYOP mindset. When a customer comes in with their own part with the intention of saving money—and the first thing they ask about is cost—that usually means they had a bad experience with a shop that either took advantage of them or screwed them over.
“Why are they this way? Why do they mistrust these shops so much?” Peter asks. “It might be an opportunity to find a great customer if you try to understand what’s happened to them.”
PROTECTING YOURSELF WHEN YOUR CUSTOMER PROVIDES THE PART
So, how can a shop protect itself if a customer wants to bring in their own part? While we only spoke to three shops, we do have some anecdotal advice from the webinar chat. Here are the top three:
- The warranty is on labor only. If a customer got the part from a dealer, the dealer is responsible for the part warranty.
- Customer needs to sign off. As we mentioned above, the customer needs to sign some paperwork indicating they provided the part and they know the shop isn’t responsible if it fails. Make sure it’s noted on the invoice!
- The part needs to be in decent shape. While a lot of customer-provided parts may be straight from the dealership or off a sister vehicle, there are some enterprising customers that head out to, say, the local junkyard to see what they can prise off wrecks.
If a part turns up in decent shape, Andrew and Glen say, they’ll use it. But if a customer provides a rusted mess that has clearly survived the Battle of Scarif, well, they reserve the right not to install it.
(Saving a buck does not come at the expense of safety!)
Speaking of bucks, what happens to parts revenue if a shop’s customers all start bringing in their own?
At the moment—at least for the three shops we spoke to—the issue isn’t prevalent enough to warrant too much concern. If a whole slew of customers want to bring in parts, then yes, many shops are going to have to stop and think about how they want to handle it. This could include increasing the labor rate or attaching some kind of fee to help make up for what would have been the parts margin.
BRING YOUR OWN PARTS…FOR NOW
All three of our interviewees agreed that this trend will probably continue into the future. Things may possibly chill out if prices come down and our perfect storm of inflation, shortages, and supply chain issues eases. Until then, Wayne says, he’ll work with customers who bring in their own parts: “As long as we get paid for working and fixing, I’m fine with it.”
“I think we’ll see more of it, especially national fleets,” Andrew says. “They have buying power all over the country, definitely more than a local shop. I think that’ll happen more and more as the shortage continues.” With that said, Integrity Fleet Services continues to review each request and weigh whether or not it’s a good choice for the customer and the shop.
Does your shop have a policy around customers bringing in their own parts? Let us know on social media—we’re curious!