Grow Your RO: Supply Chain Issues

Supply chain issues have had a profound impact on the car repair industry, creating significant challenges and disruptions. With the global shortage of microchips and other essential automotive components, dealership service departments are struggling to acquire the necessary parts to fix vehicles promptly.

This shortage has led to delays in repairs, increased waiting times for customers, and a surge in prices as the limited supply drives up costs. Additionally, the lack of available parts has forced repair technicians to find alternative solutions or workarounds. This supply chain ripple effect is affecting both businesses and consumers alike.

Our dealer partners share their supply chain struggles and the solutions that have helped them to continue operating and best serve their customers.

Tom Miller – Parts & Service Director, Ourisman Ford of Manassas

It’s made it interesting, that’s for sure. Supply chain is probably the worst issue we’re dealing with right now, and it’s probably the worst it’s been in 30 years that I can remember. It started off with things as simple as gloves and [what] technicians need to work on cars to keep themselves clean and safe. We just couldn’t get them. And the cost went through the roof, fighting back on that.

But the long term effects of COVID and the supply chain issues, is just parts availability. The parts aren’t there for us to get, and if you’ve got a car sitting here, you know, literally three, four, five weeks, three months, I’ve got ten vehicles right here waiting for one particular part and there’s 55,000 on backorder nationally.

So the factory stepping up production as fast as possible. But they are definitely falling behind. And on our level, we end up trying to, you know, provide customers alternate transportation to try to get some of that money back from Ford when cars are down. And then a lot of that comes out of out of us, and so, the cost of doing business these days.

Michaela Reardon – Service Manager, Checkered Flag Toyota

Here are Toyota. We have been very fortunate. I mean, you mentioned cat converters. Absolutely. That being that there’s a problem with theft on cat converters, and so they’re getting getting those in is usually taking a good 30 to 60 days. But in general our supply chain has been just amazing. You know, there are other brands within our group who have cars down for weeks and months at a time waiting for parts. And thankfully that that’s not our Toyota world.

We’ve had a few minor back orders. We ran out of some AC filters for a short time, which seems very minor. We’re just very thankful to have Toyota as our manufacturer and supplying our parts.

Rusty Gold – Service Manager, Ganley Chevrolet

You know what? That’s a that’s an everyday deal. It’s a definite challenge. We don’t have a good supply of new cars to have as my rentals, so we have a new challenge. Sometimes we just have to sit down with the customer and just tell them like it is. Your car is drivable, it’s safe. The fact that your cruise control doesn’t work, I can’t give you a car waiting for that part. Some of these parts. I’ve got a cruise control, for instance.

car repair supply chain

They’re expecting the part in November, and there’s nothing. And we’re just some guy in the middle stuck. So I just have to sit down and talk to the customer and just say… and I try to get some kind of goodwill type tool to use to help them out. One girl I’ve gotten a car payment for. She’s besides herself that she can’t use her cruise control so. And I get it. I mean, she bought a new car and expects all those things to work And GM’s saying we’re looking at the first week in November to get that for her.

So I think the solution is typically just communicate with the customer. As long as that car is safe to drive and then a lot of the people understand because I think a lot of people have gone to the grocery stores and seen empty shelves so they get it that we’re not just telling stories. It’s a reality that you just can’t get these things. And I try to educate them that a lot of the suppliers that GM was using shut down during COVID and they’re not coming back. So now GM is in the hunt.

Andrew Nevling – Fixe Operations Manager, Great Lakes Honda West

So we’ve had a lot of supply chain issues just in the back order parts. Before my back order parts list used to be maybe one page, and now I’m up to four to five. We’re seeing a pretty big difference of what I can get and how quickly I get it now.

So we have to be a little more creative in what we’re able to do, whether it’s going on the aftermarket world, trading with dealers for the parts they have in stock or what I have as opposed to what they need and sort of doing our best to circumvent it that way, to do whatever we can to help out the customer.

A lot of it’s open dialog amongst other dealerships and amongst even competing brands. We realize that our job is to keep the customer safe and keep them on the road. So the best thing that we can do is work with each other. And the end goal is as you happy customers and safe cars.

Chris Shillinger – Service Director, Metro Toyota

I mean it’s it’s hard to get parts. You know, we were very fortunate for a while, but now we’re starting to see it. There’s just certain things I can’t get. So it makes it tough. When the car is here, we want to fix it. And sometimes I can’t because we don’t have parts. They’re not available.

On certain things, we may give them a loner if the part is somewhere close that I can get it here quicker. And sometime we use aftermarket parts sometimes, but those are getting hard to get too. So most of the time we just ask for people to understand and, you know, most people understand what’s going on in the world. So they get it. It’s not just us, it’s everywhere. So a lot of a lot of customers understand that helps a whole bunch. Like I said, we’ve been pretty fortunate, but now it’s starting to become a problem because I can’t fix cars. I have the technology and the staff and the techs to do it, to figure out what’s wrong with the car, but I just can’t get the parts to fix them. So it’s hard on everybody because that’s how that’s how we pay our employees by the work that we do and in service all I have to sell is time. So if I can’t get parts, that hurts.

Wendy Capri – General Manager, Sunnyside Chevrolet

The biggest problem is if it’s a long wait for parts because of the supply chain, we don’t have any rentals available. So the guest, if their car is drivable, we’ve asked them to keep the car until the part comes in. If it’s not drivable, it becomes very challenging. Sometimes you have to go elsewhere.

Ralph Wilson – President, Classic Buick GMC

The parts situation is the most critical. I mean, we just someone comes in and there may be a part of a car that’s ten years old or one year old that all of a sudden it’s not available. So you’re either trying to trade the person out of the car or in the case of a new car, under warranty, you’re putting them in a service loaner for extended periods of time. It’s a problem.

Don Shaffer – Fixed Operations Director, Volkswagen of Streetsboro.

You know, Nissan, we’re not that bad. Kia has loosened up some, but in Volkswagen world, it’s really, really challenging. I mean, we have people out of their vehicles for 200 days. We had last year we had a car that celebrated birthday with us waiting on a turbo. It’s been a very, very challenging thing to overcome because customers don’t understand why we can’t get parts when especially if it’s a warranty thing, when they can look down the street and say, well, there’s, you know, or something else, you know, I can get that part down the street. Why can’t you get an axle? Well, because we’ve got to get it from Volkswagen in Germany. And it’s just been really challenging. So that has been the biggest obstacle to overcome, I think this year.

When it comes to factory parts, there isn’t much we can do besides put stuff on a red alert, which other dealers are doing. We have a follow up program at Volkswagen where they have to follow up with the customer, at least keeping them in the loop. Customers are a little bit more acceptable of the delay as long as they’re kept abreast of the situation, at least on a daily basis to begin with, until the customer says, just call me once a week.

Maribel Martinez – Service Manager, Volkswagen of Kirkland

Yeah, supply chain issues are definitely a thing that has affected us for a very long time. There’s not much we can do to make it better, unfortunately. So, all we do is ask the customers to be a little more patient with us. I can’t imagine that anyone in this day and age doesn’t realize that, hey, we’ve had a pandemic. Things are a little slow. You’re not going to find everything you want on the shelf when you go to the grocery stores. All these things affect us in the automotive world also. The only thing that kind of helps us out a little bit is if it’s something that is failed on a vehicle and it’s not a safety item, then we can at least walk the guess through that, kind of let them know that we understand their frustrations and that at least it’s not something safety related. It’s not going to have any ill effect on them or their family or anything. And then we just make sure that we follow up when that part comes in, get a call out to that guest and get that vehicle fixed.

Chris Seaver – Parts & Service Director, Haley Chevrolet

So it’s as bad now as it’s ever been. I can order a transmission today for a customer, an engine transmission, and I might see it in a month’s time. But I think in terms of retention that the good the good part is everybody else is dealing with the same thing. So we got a phenomenal plant manager. Harlan is just dedicated to making sure that we’re, you know, chasing all avenues when it comes to procuring parts that are hard to get. We’re we’re bound by the manufacturer to use GM parts, and we try to adhere to that as best we can because it’s the manufacturing money that we get. But with that said, when something’s going to take a couple of weeks, a month, we’re going to give the customer an aftermarket option to get the car.

Matthew Stradone – Parts & Service Director, Koons Ford

But it’s continuously changing because things become available that weren’t, and things that were available drop off ,and you can’t get them all of a sudden. And that’s been the case for the last, you know, two plus years. And it’s affected it in various different ways. I would say overall, just speaking with other people in the industry, I think we’ve been fortunate somewhat and, you know, vehicles being down, not drivable, waiting on parts, While it does happen, it’s not as frequent, like I said, as what I’ve heard from others in the industry. So I feel like we’ve done a decent job with it. But it even boils down to just supplies for the shop, you know, washer fluid or I mean, for a while latex gloves for my technicians. I mean, we’re scrambling, going everywhere and anywhere to just get gloves so our guys can protect their hands in the shop, nitrile gloves, latex gloves, all of that. So it’s really been across the board. It affects every aspect of the business.

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