Five years ago, wholesale parts revenue at Jim Norton Toyota of Tulsa, Okla., reached $3 million — a lofty accomplishment. But Gulf States Toyota still believed the dealership hadn’t yet met its full potential as an OEM parts supplier to body shops and independent repair facilities.
In particular, Steve Brodie, who manages regional f eld parts and collision operations for Gulf States Toyota, envisioned a wholesale parts department more in tune with the needs of entrepreneur clients eager to grow their own business. Jim Norton Toyota, which has won Toyota’s prestigious President’s Award 13 straight years, took the advice to heart. When it came time to hire a new manager for Jim Norton Toyota’s wholesale parts department, the dealership took a risk. Instead of hiring someone with years of dealership or auto parts retail experience, the company opted for a specialist in business development:
Jim Long. The hope was that Long and his three-man staff could drive further sales growth by helping commercial clients improve their own profitability. The dealership’s move has paid huge dividends. From 2009 to 2013, net sales in wholesale parts rose from $3 million to $3.8 million. The gross profit margin climbed from 15% to 18%. What’s more, customer satisfaction has soared. The wholesale parts department has given commercial clients the tools they need to cut labor costs and repair cycle times. And that makes their own clients — insurance companies and consumers — happier as well. Consumers get their own car or truck back quicker, and insurance companies pay for fewer car rental days. “My title is wholesale parts manager, but what I really do is develop outside sales,” Long says. “I spend a lot of time in the field, on the phone and on the computer helping our customers better understand their needs.
We want to give them tools and resources to help their business grow. We want to partner with them so they come to rely on us to improve their bottom line. Anyone can sell them a part; our goal is to help their business.”