A Day in the Life of a Parts Manager

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Sometimes the importance of parts is overlooked, but they’re a vital and complex part of any heavy duty repair shop. Most shops benefit from having a manager dedicated to overseeing the parts manager duties. Between keeping tabs on inventory, finding the best parts for jobs, balancing price against quality, and getting parts to the shop on time, it can be a challenging juggling act to perform. If the parts manager doesn’t do his job, it interrupts the shop’s workflow. When the guy managing parts drops the ball, techs can’t complete jobs, counter orders can’t be filled, and the business’s profitability goes down. To ensure parts guys don’t block shop business, here are 7 essential duties all parts managers perform every day.

7 Parts Manager Duties

1) Oversee the Flow of Parts

All day long, every day, parts are flowing in and out of the shop. Orders come in, parts get used in jobs, some sit on the shelf in the parts room, and others need to get sent back to the vendor. The biggest task in the parts manager duties is overseeing all of that flow.

It’s a lot for one person to handle, and many times there’s one expert in the shop who keeps track of all of it in his head. He knows what’s coming in, what’s on the shelves, and which techs need what parts. He papers the wall in his office with sticky note reminders of what parts need to go back to vendors. It’s good to have one dedicated person in charge of it all. However, there should also be a process that not only helps the parts manager do his job but allows others to step in when necessary so business doesn’t grind to a halt when the parts guy goes to lunch or on vacation.

2) Manage Inventory

As part of managing inventory, the parts manager spends more money in a shop than anyone, and that’s a lot of responsibility to shoulder. It’s another balancing act, making sure every penny is well-spent and builds the shop’s bottom line. Inventory just sitting on the shelves doesn’t make money. That’s why some shops don’t even stock parts anymore, preferring to order what they need as they need it. That can be a whole other dimension of juggling. You have to know how quickly you can get parts, and you need to understand what your shop absolutely has to stock to stay competitive.

Other inventory elements of parts manager duties include researching parts, cross-referencing part numbers, and knowing when a vendors’ “deal” is really a deal. For example, maybe your vendor will give you a break on fifth wheel plates if you buy a dozen of them. However, it doesn’t make sense to buy a dozen fifth wheel plates if your shop only sells one a year.

Naturally, counting inventory is part of managing it. In fact, although it can be time-consuming, reconciling negative inventory daily should be a top priority for any parts manager. Staying on top of “missing” parts that bring inventory into the negative is essential for keeping shop profits healthy.

3) Parts Manager Duties Include Selling Parts OTC

Selling parts over the counter (OTC) is another way shops can make money. It’s like having an Advanced Auto Parts on site, but it adds more work to parts manager duties. It’s an extra revenue stream that is most lucrative if you can simplify it. For example, you don’t want to go through a service order or quoting process just to sell a filter OTC to a customer. It would be better to quickly scan and check out the part.

What’s more, the parts manager needs to know what is in stock. When someone needs a part, you want to know whether you have the right one, or if you’ll need to special order to get it to them ASAP.

4) Price Parts for Estimates

Pricing parts runs a fine line between science and art. Most shops have a methodology, but a lot of times, it’s in the parts manager’s head or, worse, mapped out with sticky notes around his office. It’s not an efficient or effective way to price parts. A parts markup calculator is useful, but the best way to handle parts pricing is to have a broader tool to keep everything organized.

Plus, there’s more to parts pricing when it comes to parts manager duties. You’ll rarely figure one price for a particular part. You might have different markups for different customers, different vendors, or different types of parts. It’s vital to keep those factors organized, as well.

5) Create PO’s and Order Parts for Jobs

Some people consider purchase order numbers (PO’s) unimportant. However, PO’s represent that someone authorized a purchase on behalf of your shop, and they record who did the authorizing. It’s the start of a trail that shows where every penny goes. Instead of using trailer, truck, or consecutive numbers, shops should have a system that generates unique PO numbers. That prevents someone guessing your system and make purchases your manager didn’t authorize.

In relation to PO’s, it saves time and money to consolidate orders when ordering parts for techs to complete jobs. To do that, the parts manager has to know what is in stock, what is on order, what is coming in that day, and what all the techs in the shop need at any given moment. It’s a lot to keep track of in your head, and it adds to the parts manager duties.

6) Receive Parts

It’s vital to have a receiving process when parts come in, and that’s yet another job under the heading of Parts Manager Duties. The 3-way match is a basic, effective way to receive parts. It ensures that you don’t end up paying for the wrong parts or ones you didn’t order. It’s also where your PO’s are most useful. When parts come in, the parts manager looks at:

  • the purchase order
  • the vendor’s invoice (or packing slip)
  • the parts themselves

The parts numbers, descriptions, and prices from your PO should match what’s on the invoice or packing slip. Plus, a visual inspection of the parts should match them up with the PO and invoice. The parts manager logs everything in to verify receiving the right parts in the proper process.

7) Return Parts to Vendors

Returning parts is a fact of life in a heavy duty repair shop. Sometimes the vendor sends the wrong part, or sometimes the right parts arrive but it turns out they aren’t really needed after all. Whatever the issue, the parts manager is in charge of returning them. Parts managers keep track of what needs to go back, who in the shop has parts needing to be returned, what has already gone back, and they track vendors’ credit memos, too.

Then there’s the issue with dirty cores. They should be treated like any other parts in stock because that’s what they are until they’re returned to the vendor. So, you can add tracking and returning dirty cores to parts manager duties.

Making Parts Manager Duties Easier

Many times, all the vital information for parts manager duties is in the parts manager’s head, but it means nothing can get done if he is sick, goes on vacation, or even if he steps out for lunch. Wouldn’t it be great, though, to get all that skill and knowledge out of managers’ heads and automate it? That would help them do their jobs more efficiently. Plus, it would ensure business can go on as usual even when the parts manager is out.

Fullbay simplifies parts manager duties. It takes all that expertise and puts it in one convenient place. In Fullbay, parts managers have their own workspace, a page where they can access vital inventory info and keep track of the many things they need to do each day. With a few clicks, Fullbay shows you what’s in stock and how many, what your cost was, and what the sales price is. You can even run inventory reports including negative inventory to stay on top of stock in real-time. Fullbay also helps you:

  • build estimates
  • price parts—by vendor, customer, or part type
  • place orders—even consolidate them across one shop or several
  • receive parts
  • track returns and cores
  • cross-reference parts on the shelf and for ordering purposes

Plus, Fullbay shows parts managers all the jobs that need pricing, so work doesn’t get held up waiting for prices. With this vital tool, mobile techs can receive parts outside of the shop, anyone can make an OTC sale and take payment, and you can track vendor quote history to ensure you get accurate quotes from suppliers. And that’s just a glimpse of everything Fullbay does to help parts manager duties get done fast and efficiently. Fill in the form below and see how Fullbay can make your job easier.


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