We have an amazing guest for all of you. Kaylee Felio is going to talk about her decade of working with parts departments. We’re going to give you the three Parts Manager superpowers that the best-performing Parts Managers awaken!
Before We Reveal The Parts Manager Superpowers…
We’re super excited to have her show us her Parts Manager superpowers. She’s been around the parts game for a really, really long time. We’re going to dive into a little bit about what she’s doing to raise awareness about parts departments all over the industry. But before we get into the Parts Manager superpowers, let’s get to know Kaylee on a more personal level first!
Tell Us About Your Journey
So Kaylee, why don’t we start off by talking a little bit about your journey? Just walk me through how you got here if that makes sense.
“It’s funny, but it’s unique. So one of the owners of PartsEdge Inc. is named Chuck. He loves Subway, and the Subway restaurant that I was managing was in the same parking lot as the offices of PartsEdge. So they were my regular customers.”
From Sandwich Managing To Parts Manager Superpower!
“They asked me if I knew anyone looking for a job, which I went right over my head. They were actually asking me, but they were being nice about it. And I think a week later, I was like, ‘Well, actually, I think I’m interested.’ Because I was at this point where I was two years into college, and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. I knew I wanted a career. I didn’t, I knew I didn’t want to stay at Subway for the rest of my life.”
“So I took them up on their opportunity. And I got to learn the operation side of what we do for parts departments. And I’m trying to make it a long story short, because there was a short period where I left in between and I went off and did a totally different industry.”
“I went into real estate because I found I was in that discovery stage of my life. Like, what do I really want to do? And I really liked what I was doing at PartsEdge, but I wanted to do sales and marketing. I really liked the relationship aspect of it and talking to people and solving problems. So when I did real estate, then came back to PartsEdge because they had an opening. And I took them up on it.”
What’s the biggest improvement opportunity for parts departments right now?
“I think that the biggest improvement is training. Because a lot of Parts Managers get thrown into their position. And what we’re seeing is a lot of newer ones right now. There’s people retiring, and people leaving the business. However, as they’re leaving, there’s a lot of people who are Parts Managers that are new to the role. And there’s no formal training. There’s some manufacturer training, but there’s not really a lot of training for them.”
So looking back on the manufacturer training, that was more kind of geared towards the manufacturer. I felt like it was less about how to run the department. So I think you’re dead on with that. The manufacturer training doesn’t really teach you on how to run the business, how to look at things, what to look at, or what’s going to move the needle.
“I’ve been selling parts out for about six years or so. And just in the last couple of years I’m seeing more dealers get involved in their parts departments. That’s a huge opportunity for dealers because they’re getting into the back end and are involved.”
“They’re realizing how they’re letting those investments go if they’re not as proactive as they can be. When they’re working together with their Parts Manager, and they’re on the same page, that’s when they can produce a better inventory together.”
You’re definitely seeing a shift in the industry. From that standpoint of seeing that it’s out of sight and out of mind to it’s becoming a bigger focal point. And more of the better Parts Managers out there and the more dealers involved with it, the better opportunity to be successful. And the training goes hand in hand with that.
What blind spots do Parts Managers have?
From a blind spot perspective, what is it that you think Parts Managers don’t know that they don’t know? Aside from the 3 Parts Manager superpowers we’re about to show them.
“I would say when it comes to inventory control, especially for newer Parts Managers, they don’t know what they don’t know. Especially when it comes to the DMS and then the settings and the sources. And I just don’t think that it’s taught very much. So they just let it be because they took over for someone else and it was running. I think that it’s important to review those things constantly. Because you need to understand why you need sources and how to organize the parts in a data aspect.”
Obsolescence Is A Disease For Parts Managers!
I would 100% agree with that. I think the tribal knowledge was just the way it was set up. And that’s just how it was done. I remember years ago, there was a guy whose store I went into and their bin location was like four digits. Like it was 1000 2000 2001. So I just asked him why they weren’t like 1234. And he said, ‘Well, it’s just the way it’s always been.’ And so he just left it that way.
So even down to just a bin location aspect of it, it’s just the way it’s always been. But I think you’re dead on that too. They don’t know what they’re looking for. The more they can be educated on what to look for, and how quickly it can get out of control, the better off they are. As a Parts Manager, you may go along and you’re obsolete. Inventory may be really, really manageable. But you take your eyes off of it for one second, and it gets out of control really, really quick.
“It can. One thing that gets brought up a lot is obsolescence. I always like to talk about how it’s great that we want to try and get rid of obsolescence, but let’s take a step back and look at why you have so much obsolescence. Are you looking at the categories that create this domino effect of obsolescence? So that’s the important thing and that’s how you can control it and stay on top of it. The DMS is capable of it. It’s just they make it a little bit harder to do it. So think about how obsolescence is the effect and not the cause. And then working backwards.”
Parts Manager Superpowers: #1) Marketing & Sales
Anytime we’ve had a failure, it was always the best lesson. So if you came out of real estate knowing that B2B is your thing, then it was a life lesson worth learning that made you a Parts Manager superpower today.
“What was cool was that PartsEdge didn’t have any marketing before. And so when I came back with the opportunity of being in sales, I was like, ‘Well, if I’m going to do this, we also need marketing too.’ Because they work together.”
This is probably for a different show, but parts departments and understanding marketing is a huge opportunity. Just that subject in itself within the automotive industry, has always been thought about as variable gets the marketing or the advertising dollars. But really, what I think that we’re going to see is this huge shift back. The ability to market from a parts standpoint could be a superpower for parts people going forward. But that’s cool that Kaylee’s got that mastered.
Parts Manager Superpowers: #2) “Good OCD”
“Start with slightly OCD. But like in a good way. Like you’re good OCD. And I can say that because I have OCD. So I’m like, ‘Okay, I get it. I get why they’re the way that they are.’ So I would say OCD. Very detailed, and very efficient. So to be slightly OCD puts focus on detail and a focus on efficiency.”
Parts Manager Superpowers: #3) Detail & Organization!
So let’s go back to the OCD and just maybe unpack that more as a Parts Manager superpower. Do we mean OCD in the way they run their day? And the way they lay their department out? Do you mean OCD in the way the parts are on the shelf?
“I think it depends on the Parts Manager. Some are really OCD with the way that their parts are organized. Some are OCD with their people. And for some it just depends. But as a whole, they’re just really organized people. They just have their stuff. Like, if I walk into a dealership and the parts desk is a mess, then that’s a red flag to me at least.”
“And then being detailed with their numbers. Because like, Parts Managers typically love numbers and reports. So that would be like the detailed aspect of it. Because you have to be detailed to be a Parts Manager. Since there’s so many moving parts. Literally, you have to be so detailed and organized.”
PartsEdge Teaches Parts Manager Superpowers!
“It depends on the level of the Parts Manager. Whenever I start talking to a dealership, I always want to find out what the Parts Manager’s goals are and where they are at in their career and their process. Because what we’re gonna do is slightly different. The goal is still the same, producing a more efficient inventory to serve the customers better.”
“But their struggles might be different than a super advanced Parts Manager. So what we’re doing is really showing Parts Managers their true data, how to look at their inventories, how to make better decisions, how to control the DMS better, how to organize the data and the parts within that DMS, and really just looking at everything as a whole.”
“As mentioned before, getting the dealer involved, the Service Manager, and everyone on the same page. Because everyone in those areas speak a different language. So we’re bridging that gap and getting everyone on the same page.”
Whose idea was it to start the Parts Girl Podcast?
“Parts Girl Podcast was my idea. So when COVID happened, there was this shift. Since networking and getting to know people just didn’t really happen then. Like, we couldn’t go to dealerships. We were in a weird state. So I started getting active on LinkedIn. And then I just started posting about my day, things I was feeling, or talking about whatever’s going on with PartsEdge. Then I started going on other podcasts.”
“So I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to start a podcast. Specifically for parts, because everyone talks about fixed ops, but it’s really only service. They don’t really talk about parts. It’s not on purpose. But it just happened. So that’s how it started. And I’m looking for more parts people for the podcast. They’re really hard to get on. But yeah, it’s kind of just going with the flow.”
More Inclusive Training To Awaken Parts Manager Superpowers!
I also believe there’s a shift in this new crop of Parts Manager superpowers coming in. They’re more strategic thinkers. And they’re looking for that slight edge in the marketplace. Training goes right along with that. That’s one of the things that I think that, even us as a company, are starting to implement.
So next week, I’m going to Cincinnati to do a boot camp. Normally my boot camp is for Service Managers, and I just put 20 Service Managers in a room to talk about how to run the service department from A to Z. But we’ve shifted on that a little bit.
Real Fixed Ops Training!
Now it is going to be full of Service AND Parts managers. And the exercises are going to have the two departments working together. If I was going to train Parts Managers like this new crop, then it would be them understanding that parts is just a big part of the whole dealership. And that the integration part is vital. So I think that that’s something that we’re going to see is not just parts department training, but dealership training.
The opportunity for training is huge. I don’t think anyone’s done, at least from what I’ve seen, a customer-centric type training platform for the parts department. That’s where the opportunity is definitely on the structure.
But I think that it goes hand in hand, like if you can manage the asset and take really good care of the customer at the same time, then you’d be unstoppable with your Parts Manager superpowers.