Keeping an ear to the ground
Sutton, Neb.—As an outside sales representative for Friesen Chevrolet in 2010, Kelvin Shearer knew an opportunity when he saw one.
“It seemed like every shop I would call on in Nebraska and Northern Kansas was saying the same thing — they wanted better delivery service. I made it my goal to make that happen from there on out.”
Fast forward to 2019 and Shearer is now the dealership’s general manager. He has been instrumental in overhauling the parts department, adding a delivery network which also includes their partner dealership, Friesen Ford.
“We started with one delivery truck and by listening to our customers and changing with the industry, we have really grown that side of our business,” he said.
Parts Manager Jon Pedersen added, “The biggest shift for us was slimming down our inventory. We used to specialize in discontinued and obsolete parts, but the market was changing and we realized we needed to change with it.”
Shearer’s vision for a delivery network has also become a reality with 10 delivery vehicles that will run between 150 and 200 miles each way every day. The delivery routes are put together using a program called Elite EXTRA.
“We deliver as far west as Ogallala, into Northern Kansas, and have daily trucks going to Lincoln and Omaha as well,” Pedersen said.
Ninety percent of parts sales are wholesale, with mechanical parts accounting for 65 percent of overall sales, and collision parts holding at around 35 percent. Between the Chevrolet and Ford stores, current inventory sits between $4 to $5 million, though Pedersen says there’s opportunity for growth with program offerings such as aftermarket price-matching through Collision Link and Repair Link, and the new “my GM Partner Perks” program, which became effective on March 1.
The ‘my GM Partner Perks’ program effectively replaces all other GM programs such as Genuine GM Rewards, he said. Previously, shops earned points for specific powertrain and collision parts purchases. With “my GM Partner Perks,” customers earn points with no restrictions on the full portfolio of GM parts including GM Genuine Parts, ACDelco, Chevrolet Performance and GM Accessories. Benefits extend beyond just redeemable points, Pedersen added. The program also includes national marketing support, training resources, and business tools that can help drive profitability, productivity, and increase a mechanical or collision shop’s bottom line.
Shearer also said they are the only GM Powertrain dealership in the state. “We sell a lot of engines and transmissions, which really helps separate us from our competitors.”
The service department at Friesen Chevrolet stays busy as well, according to Service Manager Ryan Moudry.
“Aside from our GM repair offerings, if it can be driven in for repairs, we will work on it, as we service most makes and models.”
Moudry staffs nine technicians who use 20 bays, equipped with Rotary lifts. “Most of our lifts are in-ground, but we do have three overhead lifts as well,” Moudry said. He also added that Hamilton Equipment Sales and Service in Aurora, Neb., maintains and services the lifts for the dealership.
Some recent upgrades include purchases of additional GM MDI II scanners with laptops and a Robinair R-1234yf refrigerant machine, provided by General Motors.
Technicians are all held accountable and encouraged to participate in ongoing training, Moudry said.
“Our guys have gone to training wherever they can find it — Ankeny, Kansas City, even as far as Denver if it is something we feel is beneficial. Our technicians are compensated for all training.”
Shearer added that Friesen has also tapped into a market need with a machine shop and dyno services. “We do a lot of circle track engines here, which also brings in an alternative revenue source.”
With its sizeable inventory and three outside sales reps, Shearer says they’re happy to meet with shops to meet additional needs.
“If anyone has questions or would like us to come by their shop, we will gladly send someone over and share what we can offer them.”