Why You Should Close Your Back Parts Counter


By Bob Atwood

To increase shop proficiency, consider closing your back parts counter. Your service department just might turn more clock hours.

There are many ways to gauge service department performance. We advise measuring technician proficiency, which is defined as hours produced divided by hours available.

NADA’s guideline for technician proficiency is 120 percent, but that’s typically not achievable because of warranty work. A score of 100 percent is sustainable day after day.

If you’re not meeting NADA guidelines, there could be several different reasons:

  • Your service advisors may not be selling all the available hours.
  • Your marketing may not bring in enough business.
  • The parts department may not have all the parts the techs need.
  • Your techs may be wasting time picking up parts at the parts counter.

You know what happens when a technician walks up to the parts counter — lots of small talk. Small talk lowers shop proficiency.

I would love to close the back parts counter and put an intercom or a computer in every tech’s bay. If a tech needs a part, he simply pushes a button or touches the screen, and a parts runner brings him the part. Delivering parts to the technician keeps him in the bay, where he is productive.

Some dealerships actually have counter people embedded in the service department, where they work with eight or 10 technicians at a time. The techs stay right where they are, and they stay productive.

Instructor Bob Atwood, who teaches Fixed Operations II, Service, in week 2 of 6 in the NADA Academy program, can be reached at batwood@nada.org. Ordownload the application and schedule at NADAuniversity.com by selecting the Academy section on the home page.

To find out how your dealership‘s compensation stacks up to the competition, get your copy of the 2012 Dealership Workforce Study Industry Report! Log in to NADAuniversity.com,go to Resource Toolbox, and click to purchase (requires GM/Exec or Dealer access level. The Industry Report is complimentary to Dealership Workforce Study participants.




  • joey

    Stupid idea