Kaylee Felio: All right, so I have Bob Ghent here with Ghent Motors. And myself, Kaylee Felio with PartsEdge. So I want to start with you telling us about your dealership and the history of it, and then we’ll talk about why you hired PartsEdge.
Bob Ghent: Okay, great. Thanks for having me, Kaylee. Appreciate the opportunity and am happy to give my story. I’m a third-generation automobile dealer. My grandfather started a store in 1942, my father took that over. And then we sold that store 60 years after he started it. Just mainly because there were too many family members in it, which happens, I think a little bit in our business. And then I went over with my father and bought a store in a town 30 minutes away from that original store in Greeley, Colorado, and I bought the Chevy store there in 1988. And [had] pretty rough go of it. I was commuting from Denver, where I lived at the time, for a year we commuted. So we had an hour drive back and forth- my wife worked in the store with me at the time. We had put all of our money savings from the sale of the previous dealership into this store. Basically, the first year we lost all of it, and I was not sure what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I was going to have to go bankrupt or what, but by the grace of God, and things working out, and my father and some other key instrumental people that helped me as well as my wife, we got the thing turned around. And now it’s a fantastic dealership. We have grown it. I moved the dealership in ’91 to a new location and we’ve only had great success. I think I only had one other losing month since that first year and that was in ’08 when things were getting a little rough. But other than that we’ve had every month has been profitable. We added Cadillac in 2000. So it’s now a Chevy Cadillac dealership in Greeley, Colorado.
KF: That’s awesome. That’s an awesome story.
BG: And there is a fourth-generation starting in the dealership. My son is a manager there now, so.
KF: That’s awesome. Keep it going. That’s really cool.
KF: So speaking of that- just managing through all those years- how have you guys managed through the pandemic? I’m sure people are asking you that- but since we’re on that topic.
BG: Well it’s definitely been a challenge, ‘course something we’ve never seen before, so it’s a lot of- we’ve had a lot of people out sick- very sporadic. Sometimes it’s COVID. Sometimes it’s not, and yet you got to be careful with anybody that has any kind of symptoms around- so we’ve fumbled and listened to as many seminars, Zoom meetings as we could through NADA, and then our Colorado Auto Dealers Association was very on top of this. So we gathered as much information as we possibly could to work through it. We were closed down and the state closed our showroom down for the month of April. We did qualify for the- or we got the PPP- we’re still working through our forgiveness with that- but we feel like we’ll get it forgiven. And it was a lot of just learning as you go. Yeah, I’m sure we made mistakes, but knock on wood. We’ve, we’ve kind of gotten through it unscathed. We had a fantastic year as most dealers have.
BG: And, in fact, a record year as far as profits, because of, you know, everything that’s going on with it. But lower expenses and, and higher margins have contributed to that. So, in that regard, it’s, it’s been great. But you know, we’ve had some sick people and we’ve had people go down. One person ended up in the hospital on a respirator, but he has recovered and is back at work with us now. So it was touch and go, and something I hope to not have to go through again.
KF: No. None of us want that again. Just gotta keep moving forward.
KF: You’ve been through so many different changes through all the years. So tell us about your parts operation! We’ve been working together for about four years now. Why did you hire PartsEdge?
BG: Yeah! So I had for most of my 37 years in the business, a Parts Manager that was with me from the beginning. And in fact, when I bought the store, he was there. And everything ran great. He was a very good manager and controlled it- probably was a little conservative, which may have cost us a little bit of business- but at least he was tight on the inventory and never ran into any big issues in the parts department. Kind of let her run on its own with this manager. He retired, and that was probably about six, seven years ago. And so I put in his place one of the parts counter people and promoted him to manager. I thought that was going to go good, and figured out that it wasn’t, the inventory got way out of line. I kept hearing the wrong things. And, you know, the one comment that always bugged me, was that “hey you can’t count obsolescence until 15 months because a RIM. Because a GM RIM” and I kept hearing that and so our inventory just kept getting older and older and older because of that. And I thought, well, he’s probably right until I went to a group 20 meeting. A good dealer, a friend of mine from Whitefish, where you guys are out of Don K told me about PartsEdge, I knew I needed to fix something. So I called Chuck and signed up immediately. I really like the breakdown of the inventory. I like to know what I own and it is my responsibility that I can’t send it back on RIM and therefore we have a different obsolescence gauge on that money than I do on RIM. I know RIM can send it back in 15 months. But my inventory is obsolete after 12 months in my book, and I want it…
KF: For non-Guaranteed?
KF: You’re talking about the performance report that we provide to you guys every month, we break down the inventory, and it’s easy for you as a Dealer and the Parts Manager to be on the same level as understanding what’s going on with inventory.
BG: Yes. Before I was confused, didn’t understand it, RIM confused the whole picture in my book. Of course, we all have our bias towards RIM. There are good aspects to it and very bad aspects to it but it is what we have. And so we have to live with it but I don’t want to be tied to that with the inventory that I own. And that report breaks that down beautifully for me and separates it out and then I can kind of see the inventories and then you give us guides on that too which is nice as to where we should be. So we use those and just make sure that our manager is handling that inventory correctly. The other thing that you all do is keep us in compliance with RIM which I love. You know, really, you’re our third pair of eyes, in our parts department. We of course have ourselves and our and our Manager. And we have GM with a pair of eyes on our parts department, which is not a bias, they’re very biased as we all know. And so to rely upon them as somebody to look out for us. You know, they’re biased, they’re trying to sell parts to us. And so I understand their position, but I don’t want to rely upon them entirely. And then the third set of eyes is PartsEdge, and you guys are unbiased. You’re trying to help us comply, you’re trying to help us manage our inventory. And do a lot of it for us. Which takes a load off of our manager, that, you know. He keeps saying, “well, guy, I gotta do this” well ask PartsEdge to send you that you know or have them do that you’re. The service is just fantastic. And when we want to send back parts, you know, we’ll call you all and you’ll give us a list of what we should send back or what we should try and sell to, you know, another party, another group or dealership. All of the resources that you have built up over the years, we take advantage of that with you and it has helped us out immensely.
KF: Yeah, definitely. A question with that is, a lot of times that when I’m talking to dealers and tell them what we do, they expect their parts manager to do everything and, and we’re not doing their job, we’re just giving them a tool to do their job better. Because they have what Chuck always says, if they have 50 fire hats, we take 10 of those, so that they can focus on growing the business. I say human things- growing the business employees, all of that, where we focus on the DMS and giving them the tools that they need to be more efficient. So.
BG: And with that, as you say, it has allowed us to really get into the nitty-gritty of the parts department. We would have never talked about, you know, what is our phase-in criteria and what is our, you know, our optimal stocking level and moving parts around in different sources and, and having parts matrixes that price different parts in different ways. It just has allowed us to dig in deeper because you all are taking those 10 things off of that manager’s plate, it really allows us to go deeper into parts and refine it, and tune it to be an even better-operating machine than what we’ve ever had.
KF: Yeah, that’s great. And tell me about your Parts Manager. Because I remember there was a time there was a switchover you were actually working in the parts department at a time. I remember that.
BG: Oh yeah! I learned a lot more about parts than I ever wanted to. But it was a good education for me. I really never came up through the fixed-ops.
KF: I think that’s common- yeah.
BG: I went through one Parts Manager and then hired another one and that was a disaster as well. And I finally had had enough and, you know, I didn’t want to hold on to a guy until I found a new Parts Manager. I because I felt the guy could do more damage by being there than if he wasn’t.
BG: That created that vacuum back there where nobody was there because I had to do something and we let him go, and then there was no manager. So it kinda, it just was a hat that I had to put on and dug into it. And I did have you all as a resource. And then I luckily had the previous Parts Manager that had worked for me for 25 years that retired from me. He was a phone call away from me, and one of his counter people, his assistant was also available. And he came in and helped me. I had to learn how to send parts back, I mean, it was you know how to send corps back it was like oh my. But it taught me a lot and now I kind of can call out people in the Parts Department because I kind of know it works.
KF: Yeah, it’s good. I would recommend all dealers to just go in parts and work it. It’s like the Undercover Boss. Right?
BG: Exactly. That’s exactly right. Yeah, it’s very interesting. And, and you really see the dynamics between the service department and the techs in the parks department gives you a better understanding of what goes on there. And, you know, some of my techs are very good world-class techs. So, you know, you have to listen to them, but at the same time, you got to look at the part side of it, you know. They’d have you stock everything in the world. And of course, you can’t, so then you start talking to that tech about what do we look at, in the parks department to stop. you know, and, and if you’re doing that correctly, you can justify to that tech, why you have a part of why you don’t. If you truly are watching, you know, how things are flowing in that Parts Department and, and what’s selling and what’s not. It gives you a better understanding so that you can talk to that tech intelligently and say, “This is why” and kind of help ease that situation a little bit.
KF: Get them to understand a little bit. Yeah, definitely. So I think we’ve kind of already covered this, but how would in your words, if you were talking to a dealer, how would you describe what we do for you? Or in a few words?
BG: Well, it’s a service- a great service. You give us the reports. I will mention another thing that Chuck did for me when we first started as he has me reconcile our inventory every month, the books versus the inventory. We also do a perpetual inventory. We also do an annual inventory by a third-party company that Chuck recommended to us. And then getting the parts. So our RIM return is through GM but you all keep us in compliance with RIM. The other thing that Chuck always likes to do is you don’t want to be over on RIM, you want to be right at the number. So if your compliance is 90%, don’t be at 91 be at 90%. Of course, you can’t be at 88%, but you got to be right there where they want you. But why stock parts that aren’t selling from RIM if you don’t need to?
BG: You got to comply, but you don’t need to add that extra part from them. So that has really helped us out in that compliance. And then doing the inventory. Our material return, reserve- you all helped us identify the parts that we want to send back on that. As well as our CSO11 we never used to do a CSO 11 Return, we do it every month now. Religiously. So any parts that are coming up on seven months, we want to get our 70%, approximately, money back on those. Certainly not let them get over a year and become obsolete.
KF: Yeah. Because then if you try and get rid of them through a parts broker, you don’t make very much where you can make more doing the CSO.
BG: Doggone right. So we watch that, you all send us a report on that. You’re also watching- your again- that third eye watch and things for us. So if there’s a part that comes up that we’re selling, a lot of you all say “hey, this needs to go on your on your daily stock order” so.
KF: Yeah. So you’re having more of the right parts so you’re not running out of parts so your techs aren’t unhappy.
BG: Exactly. And there’s, there’s the tech side of it that comes into it to make sure that, “Hey, we stocked this part for you because we are watching this” and PartsEdge helps us with that also. So it’s that third set of eyes that is really beneficial to us. I think it’s just helped us with talking to the parts manager also and developing that relationship because we can look at things that are not GM biased, you know, it’s a third party and we just look at those and say, “here’s where we are, here’s where we want to be”. And he runs it with those reports, just like he does our group 20 reports on the profit side of our job description reports on the human side. We’ve got these reports that help us run the parts inventory clean.
KF: Yeah. Awesome. And going back to your Parts Manager- he was a newer one, so he wasn’t seasoned. Correct? So we’ve helped kind of train and implement some strategies for him
BG: Yeah. I got lucky. On my current Parts Manager, he was a parts counter person, we promoted him to Parts Manager. And through his ability to call you, Chuck, Robert, whoever up there. You know, he’s learned a lot. There was a learning curve there, certainly. But I think it was shorter because of the service that Chuck and you all PartsEdge provide to him. He’s gotten up to speed and we’re digging into stuff in parts that I don’t we haven’t in a long, long time- if ever.
KF: Good. That’s good. We always recommend if someone is trying to have a new Parts Manager- if they’re struggling to find someone- move up the counter person. Because they’re in the operation. They just need a little bit of guidance. And they can be really good. So I’m glad it worked out for you!
BG: Yeah, it did. We’re happy. We’re happy. So.
KF: Yeah. You don’t have to be in parts anymore.
BG: Exactly. I used to go to a coffee shop at about six in the morning because I had to get into the parts department and I saw a buddy of mine all the time in the coffee shop. He said, “Oh, you’re still running parts, huh Bob?”. Because it was so early, you know?
KF: Yeah. He knew.
BG: If I was there at 6 am, you’re still running parts.
KF: How many months did you do it?
BG: I was in there for about six months.
KF: Wow. Yeah. But it’s good. You probably wouldn’t take it back.
BG: It was a learning curve for me, and I’m glad I learned it, but I’m glad somebody else is running it now.
KF: Good. Well- is there anything else you’d like to add? Before we close?
BG: Just appreciate all that you all do for us at PartsEdge. And it’s been a great relationship. Chuck is such a down-to-earth guy and not pretentious at all, and, a joy to talk to and, you know, he’s, he’s available. I can always reach out to Chuck, email, or whatever. And he’s very accessible and he really wants to help you out. You can tell it’s a passion.
KF: Chuck loves it. And he’s able to do this, you know because we have the team to help a team of experts to help him support what we do. So yeah, it’s awesome. We love working with people that have just really loved working with us. You know, it makes it better.
BG: Yep. Yep. It’s been a great relationship. So.
KF: Cool. Well thank you for joining us, and we appreciate you!
BG: Yep. Thank you.