One Minute Might Save You Thirty! - Page 2 of 2 - Engine Builder Magazine

One Minute Might Save You Thirty!

First, we must face the fact that it is not always as simple as year, make, model and VIN. I know it can be impossible to acquire even these, but many times I would be asking for more. Sometimes much more. We work on a variety of engines and there are a variety of questions to answer to get the correct parts. Let’s look at some general applications and see what you might be asked to provide to make sure you get the right parts the first time.

For most import or domestic passenger cars and light truck applications you need an accurate year, make, model, cubic inch or liter displacement, and for anything from this century or from the ’80s and ’90s we need the eighth digit from the manufacturer’s VIN.

I started in the parts business behind the counter in 1974. I left that store in the early ’80s and by then, we were occasionally asking for a VIN number. It’s now 30-plus years later, and the VIN is needed to find most any part for a modern vehicle. Why do I always get that long silence on the other end of the phone when I ask for it today for an engine part?

Marine applications get to be more complex. Year, boat manufacturer, engine manufacturer, cubic inch and horsepower rating will be just the start. We’ll also need to know if it’s standard or reverse rotation. Some reverse rotation engines were available with both gear drive and chain drive camshafts. You might be asked if the pistons are flat top, domed or dished. Solid, hydraulic or roller lifter camshaft, oval or rectangular intake port heads and the firing order are all potential questions when trying to identify a marine engine.

Heavy-duty and industrial engines require year, make, chassis model and engine size, but these type of applications will also require an engine serial number. Parts for Caterpillar will also require an arrangement number, while Cummin’s parts require a manufacturer’s CPL number.

When you’re talking about parts like crankshafts, cylinder heads or connecting rods, a casting number will most likely be required.

When I started this story, I claimed that one minute could save you 30 minutes or more. If that one minute is used to collect the information I’ve described, it could easily save you the 30-plus minutes you’ll waste calling your parts distributor only to learn you need to contact your customer for more info before you can call your distributor again to get what you needed in the first place. If your shop rate is $70- $80 an hour, you’ll save yourself $35-$40 in wasted time. Not quite free money, but you get the point.

There are still two more points to make. First, if you guess or assume you know the vehicle information, you’re going to be wrong. And you know what they say if you assume, you make an ass of you and me. And I personally don’t like being made an ass. Given the right circumstances and a bar, I’ll do that for myself! Seriously, please don’t guess.

The second point I’d like to make takes us into the future. Have you noticed how difficult it is today to get current cataloging? Things are changing at a rate that the parts manufacturers can’t even keep up with, yet alone catalog. Plus, with cost being a major concern, printed materials are often going by the wayside.

If your shop is equipped with a computer and Internet access, you can have available the most current information. But I’m not seeing a high percentage of shops with computers or Internet access. That’s going to have to change. As we move forward, I believe, one of the most difficult jobs we’ll face  is gaining access to the information we’ll need.

Many of us old-timers still appreciate a catalog. When you have the book open, you have access to several pages of info and you can compare, size up and find what you’re looking for. Without a catalog, you’ll need the correct answers to each of the electronic catalog prompts to get to a part number. Now having that information is mandatory.

This is like the snowball rolling downhill. Today I train you to give what is needed to your WD to get you the correct parts. Tomorrow you start training your customers. Get a proper work order, one that prompts you into asking the right questions and filling in the blanks.

Collect this info at the time you bring in the job. You may not need to get their name and number if they’re a regular, but get the info anyway. If the delivery driver doesn’t have it, make him or her responsible for getting it to you. Assert that the job won’t leave your counter until you’ve got the info you need to do the work and get the parts. Repair shops usually want it yesterday. Plant a seed that you can’t start until you get that info and watch ’em move.

Knowledge is power. Having the right knowledge, or information, will make parts acquisition quicker and easier. And the less time you have invested getting the parts, the more time you’ll have to get the job done and the more profitable those parts will be.

 

 

You May Also Like

Utilizing Instagram

“When we started, we had no business at all… that’s when I started using Instagram,” Yaghoubian says. “Back then I didn’t know a lot about social media, but it works for business really well, and especially the automotive industry on Instagram.”

The Industry has changed, so should you.

“One picture I posted got 7,600 likes, it reached 112,000 people, I got 982 profile visits from that post, 758 people saved it, and 208 people sent it to other people,” says Aaron Yaghoubian, owner of Arlington Machine in Riverside, CA, talking about an Instagram photo he shared in August of an Evo 8 short block project. “You can’t beat it. Some engine builders are over here crying, but they don’t want to use something that’s free. They have the device in their hand, now download the app and do it.”

Higher Revving Education

We’ve all seen the ads in magazines and online for schools, classes and seminars on tuning an ever-increasing number of engines and even transmissions in today’s cars and trucks. The better ones will include the use of a chassis dyno to show real-time results of the step-by-step methods they teach.

Chassis vs Engine Dyno

We spoke with a couple shops that utilize both dyno types to get their take on the advantages, disadvantages and reasons to have one over the other or both.

Tradeshow Season

While the rest of the world tends to slow down in the fourth quarter, our industry is starting to rev up. That’s because it’s tradeshow season, and the excitement for next year is always palpable!

OE Parts vs. the Aftermarket

Many of your customers believe that OEM parts are better than aftermarket parts. We wanted to dispel some of the myths once and for all. Without getting into the mud about which brands are better. It is important to note that not all parts are created equal, and this includes both aftermarket and OE replacement parts.

Other Posts

Setting Up an Instagram Account

The old saying goes, “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” Well, in the world of social media, that same picture is not just worth 1,000 words, but could also be worth thousands of dollars in new business for your engine shop. By now you’ve likely seen our features on setting up and utilizing Facebook for your business. Next on our ‘to-do list’ is an introduction to Instagram for those of you who haven’t started utilizing this social media platform.

The Potential in Differential

Is growth part of your business strategy? It comes in a lot of different forms, but when it’s adding a new service offering or product for your customers, it can be nerve-racking at the very least. The additional investment in tools, equipment, training or people weighed against the unknown outcome leaves you holding all the risk, unless there is something that’s a perfect fit.

How To Put Your Facebook Page To Work

A couple months ago, we walked you through the setup of a Facebook business page. Hopefully you’ve gone ahead and created that page and took some time over the last couple months to play around with ways to engage with an audience. If not, go back and check out the February issue. It’s worth your while to do so!

Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement

Once you’ve obtained your IPR, then what? What can you do when you find another person or business violating your patent, trademark, or trade dress? Below, we take a closer look at the steps you can take to enforce your IPR against unauthorized use.