Order Fulfillment

May 1, 2022 | Training & Education

By Marty Hollingshead

When we talk about sales, including getting orders, fulfilling them, and managing the sale after the sale, we need to begin by evaluating what drives sales. The obvious answer is having what the customer needs. Once you have taken the order, now the real work begins, which includes fulfilling the order, getting the part to the customer, and then dealing with any issues thereafter. This is service after the sale.

So, for your facility, once you take an order what does it take for you to get this order fulfilled? This all falls back on what I refer to as your “system,” which is your people, your product, and the most important: your process. Is the part on the shelf and ready to go, with just a final quality control check and a little spit and polish needed? Or, does the part have to be pulled?

How Accurate is Your Inventory?

Can your salespeople take what they see on their screen at face value, or do you need to bring out Mr. GoCheck? Does this part get pulled, only to find hidden damage, or is the part missing or unusable? If so, now what? In cases like this, as we all know, problems always occur at the point of sale. It’s usually the only part that you have. Your salesperson has done all of the work to get the order. Do they now have to scramble to find a replacement? Or worse yet, tell the customer they don’t have what they said they did?

Again, what needs to be understood is that whatever happens at the point of sale, whether good, bad, or ugly, is a byproduct of your process. The more thorough your inventory – and by using your data to ensure you are pre-dismantling the parts from the vehicle that have a high probability of selling and having them on the shelf and ready to go – will make fulfilling orders dramatically easy.

I have spoken to other recyclers and the most successful ones are now focusing on using their data to ensure they have the popular parts on the shelf and ready to go. It has been said by others, “why go through the expense and the labor into pulling/removing the part, when you haven’t sold it yet?”

If you are buying the right vehicles, the demand is there for the parts. Your data shows you this. So, why not do the work up front now, instead of waiting for the sale? Every time you touch a vehicle, it costs time and money, as well as the increasing potential for damaged and lost parts.

This can also be said for your trading partners. The whole idea is being able to say “yes” to your customer. That being said, you need to choose partners wisely. Will they be able to fulfill your order for your customer? Can you take what they tell you at face value? Are they providing you with the parts on time and as described? Remember, your customer is calling you. They have the same expectations, whether you have it in stock or are sourcing it from others. What you take, (or don’t) to your customer has a direct reflection on your company.

Now we will talk about servicing the sale, after the sale. If your customer has an issue, are you resolving it quickly and in a timely manner? Are you also looking at why there is an issue and what you can do to correct it (mis-inventoried parts, mishandling, or damage in transit)?

If you look at Amazon and how it has grown into the monster that it is, the answer is that they have what the customer needs, for a fair and competitive price, and they are very clear as to when the item will be delivered. They also do a good job of managing any problems after the sale. It’s all about fulfillment, and they have mastered it.

Orders don’t mean anything until they are fulfilled and delivered to the customer. A deal is not done until the customer is happy. Take a look at your facility. See what you can do to achieve this. As you improve your process, your bottom line will follow. The best operators are always the most profitable.

Our industry is only as good as we make it, there is no easy button. The harder we work, the luckier we will get! Support your state associations! Support ARA! Their mission: Train, educate and advocate. Get trained and get certified because changes are coming. Get educated, or get left behind.

Marty Hollingshead has been in the auto recycling business since 1973 and is the owner of Northlake Auto Recyclers, Inc., Hammond, Indiana, since 1984. Marty is on the ARA Executive Committee, currently serving as President. He is a board member of the Indiana Automotive Recyclers Association. Both Marty and Northlake have received numerous awards and recognition for excellence in the industry and the community. Reach Marty at 219-937-3960 or visit www.narparts.com.

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